A HUNT has been launched for the person responsible for sparking a full-scale bomb alert at a Hampshire football ground.

Police set up a 100-metre exclusion zone at AFC Totton and about 80 people at the stadium were told to leave the site.

Part of a Royal Mail building on a neighbouring industrial estate was also evacuated.

The object – thought to have been part of a training device – was found in a wheelie bin beside the entrance to the clubhouse.

It was taken away by a Royal Navy bomb disposal team.

Club bosses are examining CCTV footage in a bid to identify the person who dumped the device at the ground in Salisbury Road, Calmore. Any relevant images will be passed to police.

A police spokesman said: “It was extremely irresponsible to have disposed of the item in this way.

“It caused inconvenience and disruption to a great deal of people and, had it involved a viable device, could have had much more serious consequences.”

The club’s vice-chairman, Dave Penny, added: “It was actually harmless but we weren’t to know that.

“We can only assume that someone found the object and left it on our property so that we’d suffer all the resulting disruption and not them.”

The drama began just before 10am yesterday when the ordnance was discovered at the bottom of a barrel-like container in a waste bin.

Simon Young, a member of the club staff, said: “The object was found on site by the groundsmen.

“At the time we had people in for breakfast and were also hosting a training session for employees from one of the businesses that use our building.

“The police were on site very quickly and set up an exclusion zone while they waited for the bomb disposal people.

“They turned up about an hour later and once they’d confirmed what it was were able to deal with it very quickly. Luckily it was something that could be taken away and disposed of.”

The object is thought to have been made sometime after the Second World War.

Mr Young said: “We’re not sure exactly how old it was. It appeared to have been underground for some time, which made it hard to determine its age.

“The main thing is that everyone is safe. The police and the bomb squad did a fantastic job – we can’t praise them enough.”

Club chairman Wayne Mew added: “A lot of fly-tipping goes on but why anyone would do something like that I don’t know. It’s really strange.”