Manchester United looking to ‘rejuvenate’ Old Trafford



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Manchester United expansion Image: MJR Group Ltd. / Coliseum

Manchester United football club is aiming to come up with a new-look infrastructure and to this end they will take on a comprehensive strategic review exercise of their home arena – Old Trafford Stadium – as well as the Carrington training facility.

The Executive Vice-Chairman of Manchester United, Ed Woodward, along with United’s owners the Glazer family, have been facing flak from fans over the lack of investment in their famous stadium. The plan to redecorate the infrastructure was confirmed by Woodward.

It was way back in 2005 that the last major restoration of Old Trafford took place with 8,000 seats added to just under 75,000.

Since then though, clubs in the Premier League and other major European soccer leagues have moved into futuristic stadiums or are planning major upgrades to their existing facilities.

A significant development this year is that English professional football club Tottenham Hotspur moved into their new UK£1 billion (US$1.3 billion) venue, while a four-year plan to redecorate the Santiago Bernabeu was made public by Spanish giants Real Madrid. The rebuilding work will see leisure and entertainment space come up and the highlight will be a retractable roof.

To give fans a marvellous experience on match day, the United have already spent UK£20 million (US$26 million) in the off-season. The upgrades included carving out an ‘atmosphere section’ for up to 1,200 supporters, slicking up the concourse environment and hospitality suites, and streamlining access facilities for physically disadvantaged guests.

Woodward informed that Manchester United was planning redevelopment on a huge scale and the investment done so far was just the beginning.

“We’re doing a big review in terms of where we are and what we need to do. We’re also looking at the [Carrington] training ground, the Cliff, Old Trafford and Littleton Road,” Woodward informed.

“Our objectives for the stadium are for it to be safe, full and noisy. Adding more seats can influence the third one, but has to be done in the right way,” he further added.

“There are no plans currently to increase capacity, but I’m not saying it can’t happen long-term. If you totally change it then you can change the feel of it,” Woodward goes on to explain.

“Our vision for it is that we don’t want to radically change that look and feel. If you have Old Trafford and you regenerate, rejuvenate and keep it modern but keep it feeling like it’s Old Trafford, then that’s the perfect solution for us,” he stated.

Woodward’s remarks hold significance as United aims to be on the top of the heap of English soccer both on and off the pitch. Though they are not shining as far as their league form is concerned, the club enjoys the most gainful shirt deal in world sport with Chevrolet, worth UK£459 million (US$592 million) through to 2021. They are also at the forefront vis-a-vis commercial partnerships, most recently with Lego.

United’s cash registers are also jingling – they posted record revenues of UK£627.1 million (US$808.2 million) for the 2018-19 financial year, nearly UK£100 million (US$129 million) more than rivals and English soccer champions Manchester City for the same period.

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