Sir Alex Ferguson will retire as Manchester United manager at the end of this season, the club has confirmed today.
The 71-year-old manager, who guided United to their 20th domestic title last month, will take charge of his final game when his team faces West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on May 19.
After a day of frenzied speculation, during which numerous attempts to contact Old Trafford failed to generate a response, United issued a statement at 9.10am to the New York Stock Exchange to confirm that Ferguson, appointed in November 1986, would leave his post later this month.
The statement said: “Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of the season, Manchester United announced today.
“The most successful manager in English football history will bow out after the West Bromwich Albion game on 19 May and join the football club board.”
With Everton manager David Moyes and Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho the front-runners to succeed Ferguson, the Scot admitted that his decision to retire has come at the right time for him and the club.
“The decision to retire is one that I have thought a great deal about and one that I have not taken lightly,” Ferguson said. “It is the right time.
“It was important to me to leave an organisation in the strongest possible shape and I believe I have done so.
“The quality of this league winning squad, and the balance of ages within it, bodes well for continued success at the highest level whilst the structure of the youth set-up will ensure that the long-term future of the club remains a bright one.
“Our training facilities are amongst the finest in global sport and our home Old Trafford is rightfully regarded as one of the leading venues in the world.
“Going forward, I am delighted to take on the roles of both Director and Ambassador for the club. With these activities, along with my many other interests, I am looking forward to the future.
“I must pay tribute to my family, their love and support has been essential. My wife Cathy has been the key figure throughout my career.”