Sir Alex Ferguson has led the tributes to Manchester’s football community following Monday’s devastating terrorist attack that killed 22 people.
United and Manchester City have come together to pledge £1million to the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund on a day the city prepared to stage a defiant reminder that it is open for business.
Both clubs pledged the sum to the fund which was set up to assist the families and dependants of the people who died in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack, which also left 64 people injured, many of them critically.
Ferguson paid tribute to the victims and thinks his former side’s 2-0 victory over Ajax in the final of the Europa League may have boosted morale in Manchester.
He told Sky Sports News HQ: “First of all Manchester is a working class city and it has fantastic people there. They went through some difficult times in the past, they will get together because they’ve got a working class ethic about them and there’s a great unity there in the city.
“I think United gave the city a lift and I think that was what it was about. We’re all proud of them, it was a great achievement.”
While a number of sports have curtailed planned events in the wake of the Government’s decision to raise the national terror threat level to critical, organisers said Friday’s Great CityGames will go ahead as planned.
Former Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford backed the decision to stage the event which will take place in a temporary arena in Albert Square, the scene of Tuesday’s emotional vigil for those who were killed and injured in the attack.
Rutherford told Press Association Sport: ”After such a tragic and heinous event, I think it’s important that everybody comes together and shows it’s not going to stop people leading a normal life.
”That seems to be the overriding sense from everybody here. I think it’s wonderful that it’s still going ahead and I hope it will be a lovely tribute to those who lost their lives and those injured in the attack.
”I think it will be amazing to see the people come out and get behind the event, not just for the sport but to show they’re not going to let the terrorists win.”
Meanwhile the Great Manchester Run will also take place on Sunday. More than 35,000 are scheduled to take part, with organisers saying they had to turn away thousands of new applications this week.
United and City have already paid prominent tributes to those affected, with United holding a minute’s silence and wearing black armbands during Wednesday night’s Europa League final victory over Ajax in Stockholm.
City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: ”We have all been humbled by the strength and solidarity shown by the people of Manchester in the days since the attack. The hope of both our clubs is that our donation will go some small way to alleviate the daunting challenges faced by those directly affected and that our acting together will serve as a symbol to the world of the unbreakable strength of the spirit of Manchester.”
United executive chairman Ed Woodward said: ”The barbarism of Monday evening’s attack has shocked everyone. Our clubs are right at the heart of our local communities in Manchester and it is right that we present a unified response to this tragedy.
”The money will help, of course, but the work of the two clubs and their respective foundation and community scheme can build on the fantastic spirit that Mancunians have shown in the immediate aftermath.”
Premier League winners Chelsea have also pledged to make a donation to the Manchester appeal, but have cancelled their planned title victory parade around west London on Sunday.
FA Cup final opponents Arsenal confirmed there would no longer be a screening of a live beam-back from Wembley to the Emirates Stadium, with any celebrations should the Gunners win the trophy also shelved.
The clubs made the decisions to avoid placing extra burden on police and authorities in London.
Meanwhile Celtic have cancelled a planned bus parade to mark the 50th anniversary of the Lisbon Lions’ European Cup win on Sunday.
England manager Gareth Southgate said of the attack: “The whole country is united in sadness – for the families in particular. What’s been impressive is the way Manchester has come together as a city and our thoughts go to them.”
The Football Association has announced enhanced security measures will be in place for Saturday’s FA Cup final as well as the finals of the League Two and Championship play-offs. Fans are urged to arrive at least one hour before the games at Wembley.
The players will also wear black armbands and a period of silence will be observed before the matches. A similar tribute will be held before Saturday’s Aviva Premiership final between Exeter and Wasps at Twickenham.
England and South Africa players observed a minute’s silence and wore black armbands in the first match of the Royal London One-Day Series on Wednesday at Headingley, where there was an increased police presence.
Salford Red Devils are to waive admission prices for Friday’s Betfred Super League game against Catalans Dragons in return for donations to the appeal fund.
Manchester boxing hero Ricky Hatton said he was “proud” of the way his city had rallied around in the wake of the attack.
Hatton, who fought many times at the Manchester Arena during his career, told Press Association Sport: ”My heart goes out to all the families and everyone that is connected.
”I’m a very proud Mancunian, but it’s absolutely heartwarming to see how Manchester has all rallied together.
”And that’s what Manchester people are. We’re a working class city aren’t we? We’re working class people.”