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Macclesfield midfielder Butcher dies

Macclesfield Town have announced the death of midfielder Richard Butcher at the age of 29.

Butcher, whose career took in spells with clubs including Lincoln, Oldham and Notts County, died at his home in Manchester. No cause of death has been given.

A club statement read: "It is with great sadness that we have to announce the untimely death earlier today of Richard Butcher.

"Richard passed away at his home in Manchester overnight.

"He was an exemplary professional and a thoroughly likeable young man. Our thoughts are with his wife and family at this very difficult time."

The announcement comes just ten months after the death of Macclesfield manager Keith Alexander, while Exeter player Adam Stansfield died of cancer last August.

Professional Footballers Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said: "It is a terrible shock.

"We've lost Adam Stansfield at Exeter and to lose Richard Butcher is just terrible and quite tragic and on behalf of all the members and staff at the PFA we wish to offer our most sincere condolences to his family at this terrible time and our prayers and thoughts are with them.

"We will be in contact with the family to see what help we can provide at this sad time."

Macclesfield chairman Mike Rance said: "We are all absolutely devastated by Richard's death.

"He was probably the best professional at the club and his conduct and professionalism were always exemplary.

"Richard was an intelligent, articulate and thoroughly likeable young man who will be very sadly missed by his team-mates, friends and family."

Butcher married in August and was already planning for the next phase of his life after football.

"He had started a course at Manchester Met and was planning for the future with a view to what he might do after he finished playing," Rance said.

Alexander died last March aged 53 and Rance added: "This is another massive blow to the club but we are going to have to come to terms with it."