PREMIER League clubs will deploy a ring of steel around matches this season following the spate of terror attacks in the UK, it has been reported.
The heightened risk of an Islamic State-inspired atrocity on any of the country's top stadiums comes after three fatal attacks in London this year and a suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena in May.
Although Premier League games have always been a target for terrorists, the changing nature of the threat has put police and football officials on high alert for the forthcoming season, which starts tonight.
Manchester United, whose home ground Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in the UK, will carry out more fan searches and will reduce the size of bags allowed into the arena.
A spokesman for the club said: “Please do not be alarmed by the extra security measures which will be in place for every match from now on.
“They are to ensure your time at Old Trafford is as safe as possible.”
On the last game of the 2015/16 season, Manchester United's game with Bournemouth at Old Trafford was abandoned after an "incredibly lifelike explosive device” was discovered inside the stadium.
The device turned out to be a fake planted by a security company during a training exercise, which had been left in place by mistake.
Nevertheless, Greater Manchester Police praised the club and both sets of supporters for a successful evacuation, saying those at the stadium were "a credit to the football family”.
The deaths of 23 people leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on May 22 highlighted the constant danger posed by killers like Salman Abedi, coming at the end of the event rather than before or during the show.
And the suicide bombing at the Stade de France during the 2015 Paris attacks also provides a worrying precedent for extremists targeting high-profile football matches.
Arsenal, who open the Premier League season tonight at home to Leicester City, ramped up their security measures in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Today fans approaching the Emirates are greeted with a ring of stewards surrounding the perimetres of the stadium, who carry out bag checks as supporters pass through.
There are further security checks at the stadium turnstiles, while the club has introduced stricter rules on what can be brought into the stadium.
Those measures will still be in place this season, a club spokesman said.
Terror expert Kyle Orton told the Daily Star Online: "Football matches suggest themselves as a target to ISIS and similar groups because of the stage they offer.