Crockford Leads Man U’s Music Attack

Paul Crockford has been appointed to look after live music at Manchester United’s famous 68,000-seat Old Trafford soccer stadium.

The experienced promoter and manager, who established his career in the early ‘80s with such acts as Level 42, Tears For Fears, Judie Tzuke, and Teardrop Explodes, will be liaising with the U.K.’s major live show organisers rather than producing the events himself.

“No, I’m not going back into promoting,” he explained, although his experience with the now-defunct Outlaw Concerts Ltd included putting on shows for such acts as Genesis, The Police, Eric Clapton, and Dire Straits.

“I’m acting more as a consultant. They didn’t want to get a promoting company, such as SJM Concerts or Clear Channel, but someone to deal with those companies.

“They’re also very mindful of having their own person on the ground on the day of the show.”

In view of the of the disasters suffered by Chelsea and Leicester City, when they had to cancel their efforts to promote their own summer outdoor shows, another part of his role will be to filter through the would-be entrepreneurs that come forward.

“The club probably wouldn’t know who the key players are or be able to spot the chancers,” Crockford explained.

The appointment came after Crockford was at a business dinner and someone connected with the club let him know it was looking for someone to fill the brief.

Even if United had invited tenders or chosen the candidate in another way, SJM – by far the city’s biggest live music promoter – may well have been disadvantaged by its five-year deal to run shows at the rival Manchester City stadium.

Crockford laughed off suggestions that he probably wouldn’t have gotten the job if he’d told United that he’s an Arsenal supporter, or how much it galled him to be quoted as saying, “Manchester United and Old Trafford are famous the world over. It’s not known as the Theatre of Dreams for nothing.”

Another bar to SJM being considered could be its contract at the 50,000-capacity Old Trafford cricket ground (Lancashire’s main home ground). But apart from being in the same Manchester district and sharing its name, there’s no connection between the two.

Six months ago, United shareholders controversially sold out to U.S. businessman and Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer, but club communications officer Karen Shotbolt said the plan to move into live music was made prior to that.

The last show staged in the stadium was Bon Jovi in 2003.

Apart from the main stadium, the United complex has several banqueting halls and smaller rooms that can also be used for concerts.

The 1,000-seat Manchester Suite has already been used to stage a Charlotte Church show at the recent United Nations Children’s Fund annual dinner.

— John Gammon