‘Public funds’ for Man United stadium



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Manchester United stadium update May 2024 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Manchester United’s part-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes there is a very good case for a new stadium for the club to be publicly funded.

Ratcliffe told Sky Sports that Manchester United’s new stadium could become a ‘Wembley of the North.’

And he said the new venue should be publicly funded because the North West should have a national football arena due to the number of Champions League titles the region has won.

Plans are already underway to regenerate Old Trafford and the surrounding area, with a task force in place.

Old Trafford is a football stadium in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England (UK), and the home of Manchester United. With a capacity of 74,140 seats, it is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the 11th-largest in Europe.

No notable modernization of Old Trafford has occurred since the American businessman Malcolm Glazer bought the club in 2005 – the increased capacity to 75,000 via the quadrants built in 2006 was approved before the now-deceased American became proprietor.

Earlier this year, Ratcliffe – who acquired a 25 per cent stake of United for a fee of £1.2 billion at the end of 2023 – revealed plans to regenerate Old Trafford by creating a stadium capable of rivalling the 90,000-seater Wembley in London.

Trafford Council announced a 15-year plan to regenerate the area around Old Trafford in February, while Ratcliffe has also assembled the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force, putting himself as chair.

Other members of the task force include Lord Coe, Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham.

Manchester United said that the ‘Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force’ brings together local leaders and national experts to examine how stadium development can support renewal of an area of the City with rich industrial history and huge potential for the future, and deliver social and economic benefits for the entire region.

Ratcliffe is continuing to push for public funds to regenerate Old Trafford and the surrounding areas despite no apparent political support being forthcoming.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was hosted at the stadium for the visit of Arsenal last week, just as heavy rain exposed the fragility of the ageing venue.

“There’s a very good case, in my view, for having a stadium of the North, which would serve the northern part of the country in that arena of football,” Ratcliffe told Sky News. “If you look at the number of Champions League the North West has won, it’s 10. London has won two.

“And yet everybody from the North has to get down to London to watch a big football match. And there should be one [a large stadium] in the North, in my view.”

United invested almost £20 million in Old Trafford in 2019 – £11 million was spent on improvements to accessible facilities, £4 million on security and £4 million on refurbishing hospitality areas.

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