MANCHESTER CITY have been hit with a security alert after a group of youngsters broke into the Etihad Stadium and climbed onto the top of the roof.
The free-climbers made a mockery of the current security planning as they made easy work of gaining access to the 55,000 capacity ground in the middle of the night.
They hopped over the perimeter fences before easily climbing onto one of the giant walkways spectators use to leave the ground on matchdays.
The club’s private security finally spotted them and rushed inside stadium – but not before the group were able to dash to the back of the stand at one end.
And they had plenty of time to film themselves and take pictures as they climbed onto the roof, walking to the edge where they sat looking down on the pitch below.
They were only brought down when armed police rushed to the Etihad, with officers warning them a police helicopter had also been dispatched.
The ease at which the group broke in will be a major concern to City, who like all football clubs have had to beef up their security plans in the wake of increased terror threats in the UK
City are not the first Premier League club to have been targeted by free-climbing groups, with Arsenal and West Ham also being hit as daredevils climbed the Emirates and London Stadium.
One of the climbers, 24-year-old Adam Marr, posted footage of their escapade on-line.
United fan Adam said: “It was amazing – you can’t put money on an experience like that.
“While I primarily did it for the views and the experience, I’m a United fan so it was nice to ‘conquer’ our rivals in another way.
“I’ve had a City experience that no Blues fan has had, which is quite funny and one I will happily rub in the faces of my mates who are City supporters.
“Security did a good job to catch us but we were just better. When we started running from security we knew what we were doing – we were only there to take pictures.
“So when we climbed over the little wall a security guard spotted us – so we just sprinted off into the stadium.
“We saw a hatch and at first we thought it wasn’t open. I remember thinking we were rumbled.
“I thought the hatch at the top of the stadium was locked because the latch wouldn’t open.
The club have realised an official statement regarding the event:’The group of men were tracked and monitored by security upon breaching the perimeter fence of the Etihad Stadium and subsequently apprehended when it was safe to do so. Manchester City strongly condems the actions of this roup and is cooperating with the investigation into this matter.’
“We all were like ‘it’s locked’ ‘it’s locked’ but then we just realised it was really heavy. My friend just pushed it a little bit and we all made it to the roof.”
He added: “It took the police a good 15 to 20 minutes to make their way up to the roof. We were probably up there for about twenty or thirty minutes.
“I think when they realised we weren’t there to blow stuff up they relaxed a little bit. They questioned us for two hours.
“They were running background checks and making sure we weren’t terrorists.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “At around 1.45am on Sunday 27 August 2017, police were called to reports that a group of people had entered the grounds of the Etihad Stadium and gained entry to the roof.
“Officers attended and were at the grounds for a significant time until seven people safely came down from the roof.
“Police are treating it as a public nuisance incident and enquiries are ongoing.”