Ferguson's shock retirement 'overshadows government'

Sir Alex Ferguson's shock retirement on the day of the State Opening of Parliament was received with glee by Labour, who hailed him for overshadowing the Government.

The legendary Manchester United boss, born into a family of shipyard workers in the Govan area of Glasgow, has in the past been named as one of Labour's biggest donors.

With today's Queen's Speech expected to include tough measures on immigration, some Labour figures suggested the timing of the 71-year-old's bombshell announcement was no coincidence.

Labour leader Ed Miliband tweeted that Ferguson was a "Proud man. Great manager. Staunch Labour Party supporter", adding that he "will never be forgotten".

David Cameron, who supports Aston Villa, also paid tribute by tweeting: "Sir Alex Ferguson's achievement at #MUFC has been exceptional. Hopefully his retirement will make life a little easier for my team #AVFC".

Making political capital out of the moment, former Labour cabinet member Peter Hain bragged: "Nice timing Alex Ferguson retirement obliterates Govt on Queen Speech he's been #Labour always".

And former deputy prime minister John Prescott tweeted the trending hashtag #thankyousiralex "for helping the reds in football and politics. Legend".

Burnley fan and former New Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell said: "Best manager of all time, great man, bowing out in style, with another trophy on the shelf #fergieretires".

Before the rumours that Sir Alex was about to retire were confirmed, BBC political editor Nick Robinson told BBC Radio 4 Today: "I'm afraid in the Robinson household the reading-in to the Queen's Speech was slightly disrupted by the fact that the greatest-living Briton, Sir Alex Ferguson, may be retiring today and you may find that during the live coverage - as I am sat next to Huw Edwards - I might just be paying attention to something else, sorry."

Meanwhile, United's legion of celebrity fans also paid tribute to a man who has led their club to the top of the English and European game in a career spanning 26 years.

Simply Red frontman Mick Hucknall tweeted: "So, the end of an era. Sir Alex Ferguson was, and will remain~ MAGNIFICENT!! The greatest football manager in the history of the game."