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Man Utd stadium plans: Will Sir Jim Ratcliffe build a new ground and what will it mean for Old Trafford? – Sky Sports

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly looking to build a new stadium for Manchester United; the British billionaire wants to build a ‘Wembley of the North’
Monday 13 May 2024 10:20, UK
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Are Manchester United getting a new stadium? What will it mean for the future of Old Trafford? And how much will this all cost? Sky Sports takes a look at the key questions…
The Daily Telegraph reported in February that Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to create a new stadium for United, who have spent the last 114 years at Old Trafford, which holds nearly 74,000 spectators.
The plan, according to the report, would see United create a ‘Wembley of the North’ to rival the 90,000-seater national stadium in north London.
Billionaire Ratcliffe, who founded the INEOS group and acquired a 25 per cent stake of United for a fee of £1.2bn at the end of 2023, then set up the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force, putting himself as chair. Other members in the task force include Lord Coe, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.
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“I was told that Sir Jim Ratcliffe turned up for one of his meetings and he had the feeling that for arguably the biggest football club in the world, the wow factor just wasn’t there. I agree with that,” said United We Stand Editor Andy Mitten to Sky Sports News in February.
According to the Telegraph‘s report, Ratcliffe is against the idea of relocating the club, but feels supporters will be behind a stadium move if they stay within the same land.
United own around 100 acres of land around Old Trafford, 43 acres of that land is ripe for development. Around 25 acres are said to be unused.
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As part of the Future of Football series, Jim Heverin, a director at Zaha Hadid Architects, said the manner in which Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool have renovated their own stadia, rather than building new ones, is the template United should follow.
“At Old Trafford, you’d definitely expect them to be thinking about repurposing and not going anywhere else. Look at what Liverpool has been doing with these small modifications and upgrades. That looks like the future and not brand new stadiums,” he said.
“I know why Everton are moving but that is looking more like the old way of looking at new stadiums, particularly when you have something already that is an asset.”
Sky Sports’ Neville, part of the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force, has been very vocal about the need to improve the Old Trafford facilities. “Maybe what Liverpool have done is the way forward,” he said late last year.
“If there is a shortage of funds, maybe get one or two stands, absolutely world class, and the other two follow up over the next five to 10 years. That would be a plan.”
Could Manchester United get a new stadium? Sky Sports' Future of Football series took a closer look at stadiums and how they could develop in the future…
Oh, quite a lot. “Old Trafford is falling down” is the first line of a chant that fans of rival clubs have continually used to point fun at United this season.
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The falling standards of United’s ground have been well-documented, the latest example coming in the wake of Sunday’s defeat to Arsenal, where areas of the stadium flooded in the wake of a thunderstorm, with water also falling through the roof.
Other videos of run-down parts of the ground have circulated online in recent years and even though it is the largest club stadium in England, it was not selected to be one of the host venues for Euro 2028 in the UK and Ireland.
“The main stand does need doing, so does the roof, but the exterior of the stadium needs doing too,” added Mitten. “It looks a little bit red in different areas and there are fundamental issues with Old Trafford which are not great. The legroom is notorious in the stadium.
“The designs of stadiums have changed since then when they first designed stadiums and the legroom is still the same now.
“It’s a beautiful stadium, Old Trafford – but I’m not a fan of the roof because I think it comes in too low. Old Trafford shouldn’t be getting smaller, it should be getting bigger.”
Neville has been very vocal about the need to improve the Old Trafford facilities. “I’ve heard that there is only a couple of hundred million of pounds or so being spent on Old Trafford. That’s nowhere near enough,” he said late last year.
“I’d rather have £200m spent on the old stadium and have two parts of Old Trafford looking absolutely amazing. It’s important that you have pride in where you play and Old Trafford is an amazing stadium.”
The last time the club undertook major works on Old Trafford was in May 2006, when 8,000 seats were added to the north-west and north-east quadrants of the stadium.
That work was approved before the Glazer family took control of the club in June 2005, meaning no work has been done to renovate Old Trafford since United’s majority shareholders took over 19 years ago.
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Mitten believes the Manchester United fans are divided on how they want Old Trafford to be redeveloped, but adds that money and costs will come into the equation.
“From what I can see Manchester United fans are split on the decision of redeveloping or building a new stadium,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to see some stadium developments around Europe such as Marseille. I’ve always favoured a redevelopment but I’m open to hearing and so are other fans. If the redevelopment ends up costing more money than a new stadium then that sheds the debate into a different area.
“Some fans love the idea of a new stadium. I love what Real Madrid have done and what Barcelona are doing, but I’m not completely against the idea of building a new stadium.
“I just favour a redevelopment. For me, Old Trafford just needs to be expanded. Old Trafford is a brilliant stadium but it’s not the best stadium in the world.”
Staying on the same land is a move Tottenham made when they developed their new stadium. Spurs left their old White Hart Lane ground in 2016, spent nearly three seasons at Wembley, before moving back into their new 61,000-seater venue in early 2019.
One issue is that Old Trafford is located between a railway line and a canal, making the logistics relatively challenging. While Brentford managed to overcome a similar challenge for their Gtech Community Stadium in 2020, their stadium is much smaller, holding just 17,000 fans.
The renovation of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin’s Lansdowne Road also saw railway-line-related challenges, with a line running alongside the west of the stadium. That renovation was completed in 2010.
The Daily Telegraph reported that expanding Old Trafford would cost United around £800m, whereas a new ground would cost around £1.5bn to £2bn.
Tottenham’s new stadium cost the club around £1.2bn, according to Spurs owner Daniel Levy in an interview in November 2020.
As part of his £1.2bn deal to buy a stake in United, Ratcliffe is putting £239m into the club to help boost the club’s infrastructure. Qatari banker Sheikh Jassim, who rivalled Ratcliffe in the running to control United, was willing to pledge £1.27bn for the same work.
United could lobby the government to fund part of this stadium project as part of the ‘levelling up’ pledge, according to the Telegraph.
By the time United get round to developing Old Trafford, there could be a Labour government in place, and party leader Sir Keir Starmer was a guest for United’s game with Arsenal, meeting with the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force.
Mayor of Greater Manchester Burnham said earlier this year: “Whatever it is they [Ratcliffe and INEOS] want, we will facilitate and we will be there to make sure the club is set up for the future.”
But if those requests are not granted, then the only way United can afford this stadium is if either Ratcliffe ups his £239m pledge, the Glazers suddenly invest in infrastructure for the first time, or the club borrows more money.
United already have around £969m of debt, according to data from March 2023. So where will the money come from?
Sky Sports News reporter Mark McAdam:
“Man Utd need to win EuroMillions five weeks in a row to fix all of their problems. One thing that was quite interesting on Sunday was that there was a bit meeting in Manchester about having this ‘Wembley of the North’.
“That’s the plan for INEOS and Sir Jim Ratcliffe; they want to build a new stadium and they want it to be a huge focal point for English football as well as being the home of Manchester United.
“Sir Keir Starmer was at the game [against Arsenal] and he is the Labour leader while Andy Burnham [Mayor of Greater Manchester] is involved in the building of the new stadium and the re-jig at Old Trafford.
“That roof has been leaking for a number of years so while these are pictures fresh from yesterday, this is nothing new. This is a situation that has been ongoing for a number of years and fans have complained about, but the Glazers haven’t fixed it.
“It’s something that quite rightly needs to be addressed as it’s not right that fans go and pay all that money to get soaked watching the side. The stadium will take a number of years but the team is what needs rejuvenating right now.”
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