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Old Trafford offered to NHS

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A general view of Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. Photo: REUTERS

A general view of Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. Photo: REUTERS

REUTERS

A general view of Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium. Photo: REUTERS

Manchester United have offered to open up the use of facilities at Old Trafford for the UK's National Health Service during the coronavirus pandemic as one of the measures the club revealed in a new package.

United's stadium has been placed on a reserve list as a potential temporary blood donation centre, should there be a fall in blood donations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Former United manager Alex Ferguson has praised the club for its gesture and the NHS' "magnificent" response to the coronavirus pandemic.

United are already part of the Premier League's £20 million commitment to support the NHS, communities, families and vulnerable groups affected by Covid-19 and the club's players are involved in the #PlayersTogether initiative supporting NHS Charities Together.

With United's announcement of its further measures to support the NHS, Ferguson led the tribute to a service that saved his life after he suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2018.

"I'm delighted we are now recognising the importance of our NHS - as I experienced two years ago after they saved my life - the response to this pandemic has been magnificent and has made me proud of the way the club and the British people have rallied round to help," the former United boss said. "Well Done."

The Manchester United Foundation delivered more than 3,500 club gifts to NHS staff in the area on Wednesday and, after discussions with the NHS, have put their 16-vehicle fleet on standby, with volunteer drivers available to support their courier operations.

The Foundation is continuing to work with the children of key workers and United have donated medical equipment and consumables to the Salford Royal, including protective equipment, dressings and other club medical supplies.

Staff, particularly those with a reduced workload, are being encouraged to volunteer for the NHS or in their local communities.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer thanked the NHS staff and the volunteers fighting the virus for the "truly amazing job" they are doing.

Club captain Harry Maguire, who co-ordinated the United player response to the #PlayersTogether initiative, echoed his manager's sentiments.

"On behalf of all the players, our thoughts are with all those that have been affected by this terrible virus," the defender said.

"It has been heart-warming to see the nation come together to show their appreciation to the NHS and other critical workers.

"By working together we will get through this and let's hope we are stronger for it."

United are said to have triggered the one-year extension clause in Timothy Fosu-Mensah's contract.

The 22-year-old joined from Ajax in 2014 and progressed through the Old Trafford youth ranks, making his first-team debut against Arsenal in February 2016.

Fosu-Mensah signed a new contract with United until 2020 that October, with the deal including the option to extend it by a further year.

The club have taken up that option, extending the defender's contract until the end of the 2020/21 season.