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Thursday, 1 February, 2001, 13:31 GMT
Man Utd musical set for kick-off
Manchester United Football Club
Sir Matt Busby (kicking ball) with the "Busby Babes"
A musical charting the career of legendary Manchester United manager Sir Matt Busby is set to take to the stage later this year.

A gala evening will take place at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 9 April, co-hosted by current Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

It is a story you couldn't make up and the combination of music and football is a strong one

Patrick Nally, producer

The concert is based on a full-scale musical which producer Patrick Nally plans to launch later in the year.

Mr Nally said: "The Manchester United story is more than just Beckham and the current team.

"Sir Matt Busby created an incredible team after World War II from a bombed-out Old Trafford and pioneered the team into Europe.

"It is a story you couldn't make up and the combination of music and football is a strong one."


At the charity concert there will be a roll of honour. All the surviving team captains since the war have been invited to take to the stage, along with the present team and survivors of the 1958 Munich air disaster, in which eight players were killed.

Manchester United logo
Manchester United is 'quietly supportive' of the musical

Sir Matt Busby's children Sandy and Sheena will also take part in the event.

Salford-born tenor Russell Watson, whose debut album The Voice went straight to number one in the classical charts, has been lined up to play Sir Matt Busby.

Mr Nally said they chose Watson, who is 27, for his youthful appeal.

He said: "This is the story of young up-and-coming players - the Busby Babes and Fergie's Fledglings.

"Its perfect to have such a young charismatic star in this pivotal role."

International interest

Mr Nally has approached actor Ian McShane and Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall - both United fans - to take part in the concert, though he has not had a response.

A spokeswoman for Manchester United said: "Though we are not directly involved in the project we are quietly supportive of it."

The success of the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Ben Elton musical about football in Northern Ireland, The Beautiful Game, has given a boost to hopes for the project.

Mr Nally said: "We have had interest from as far away as Asia and Scandinavia and hope it will appeal to everybody who likes a great story."

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