MANCHESTER UNITED fan and campaigner Ian Stirling has died aged 57.
Stirling was the independent supporter liaison officer for the Manchester United Supporters Trust, a role he took up in 2003.
He was also a regular on TV as a representative of fans and led campaigns against the club's unpopular Glazer family owners.
United will pay respect to Stirling by wearing black armbands against Southampton at Old Trafford today and released a statement following his passing.
It read: "Everyone at Manchester United is profoundly saddened by the loss of our longstanding friend and fan representative Ian Stirling, who has died at the age of 57.
"Over many years, Ian played a vital role in dialogue between fans and the club and as a fearless champion on fan issues.
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"Ian was a founding member of the club’s Fans’ Advisory Board and a long-time member of our Fans’ Forum.
"As the Independent Supporter Liaison Officer for Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, Ian worked tirelessly to promote and protect the interests of our fans."
United's chief executive Richard Arnold said: “This is truly devastating news for all of us at the club who knew and worked with Ian.
"He was a towering figure within our fan community, loved and respected in equal measure.
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"Ian was a relentless and unflinching advocate for the interests of fans, particularly match-goers, and we highly-valued the plain-speaking advice he provided.
“We send our sincere condolences to his wife, Lynn, daughter Lucy, and other loved ones.
"The best tribute we can pay to Ian is to continue strengthening the club’s commitment to fan engagement via the Fans’ Advisory Board and Fans’ Forum, and preserving the lines of communication and advocacy which he opened in his role as Independent Supporter Liaison Officer.”
Manchester United Supporters Trust said: "Everyone at MUST is heartbroken at the news that Ian Stirling, our much loved friend and colleague, has passed away.
"Ian was a truly great man. Warm, compassionate, generous and funny. As his closest friends and family will confirm, no-one enjoyed a joke more than Ian, and there are few in our fanbase who have inspired such widespread affection and respect.
"For many years he has been at the heart of championing fans' interests.
Ian was a relentless and unflinching advocate for the interests of fans, particularly match-goers, and we highly-valued the plain-speaking advice he provided.
"He served as our Independent Supporter Liaison Officer directly helping countless fans in their dealings with the Club and other football authorities but his reach went far beyond that.
"He also served as our representative on the Fans Forum, making the supporters' case firmly and consistently.
"His stature with the club was such that in latter years he was asked to join the Fans Advisory Board where he spoke truth to power representing the interests of fans and our football club at the highest levels.
"It really is impossible to think of another United supporter who has done so much for his fellow fans. The tributes to Ian have been flooding in from all over the world.
"We can’t really imagine our organisation without him but through the tears and emotion of today we are determined to continue his work to create a truly fitting legacy.
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"Away from football Ian was a devoted husband and father and we send our love to his wife, Lynn, and his daughter, Lucy and his many friends in Salford and Manchester and all around the world."
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