Ratcliffe ready to speed up Old Trafford rejig


ManUnited exploring option to expand Old Trafford Image: Coliseum GSVA

The British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is ready to accelerate plans to boost Old Trafford’s (Stretford, England, UK) capacity to 90,000 if his offer for a 25 percent stake in the Premier League team Manchester United F.C. is accepted.

‘Mirror’ stated that Ratcliffe emerged as the sole frontrunner to buy a stake in the club after Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani withdrew his takeover offer on October 14th. The club’s Board are expected to meet on October 19th to approve Ratcliffe’s proposal for an initial 25 percent stake.

The Manchester United Football Club, commonly referred to as Man United, or simply United, is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England (UK). The club competes in the Premier League, the top division of the English football league system.

The Old Trafford is a football stadium in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England (UK), and the home of Manchester United F.C. With a capacity of 74,310 it is the largest club football stadium in the United Kingdom, and the 12th-largest in Europe.

‘Mirror’ further stated that the British billionaire will then assume control over football operations at the Premier League giants. There is another pressing issue though, with one of the biggest criticisms of the current owners, the Glazers, being their neglect of the club’s infrastructure.

Their home stadium, Old Trafford, frequently springs leaks. But plans to upgrade the ground had been put on hold while the takeover saga was ongoing.

With that process now finally approaching its end, Ratcliffe will ‘accelerate’ plans for urgent modernization of the stadium, according to reliable sources. The need to upgrade Old Trafford is said to have been a ‘significant part’ of the negotiations over his investment.

Funds have already been set aside from Ratcliffe’s expected £1.3 billion injection into the club, in return for 25 percent of A and B shares. Currently, the Old Trafford’s capacity is 74,310, though Ratcliffe is planning to explore increasing that to 90,000.

The deadlock over the saga was finally broken recently and Ratcliffe’s offer is expected to be ratified at a Board meeting to be held on October 19th. He will then assume control over football affairs, though legendary skipper Gary Neville does have concerns.

Tweeted Neville, “The news of the Qatari withdrawal leaves Manchester United on the brink of a minority investment. Can this really work and what impact will it have on a struggling organization?” It’s worth setting out my non-negotiables on a takeover of Manchester United that I made over a year ago. A new sporting project, a new or redeveloped Old Trafford, a new training ground, full redevelopment of the surrounding land to create a Manchester United World and amazing fan experience and pay off the debt and stop taking dividends until the above is done. I’m adding a 6th due to events in the last two to three years. The club requires leadership that is statesmanlike on major issues that enable a fairer, more inclusive and diverse game.”

Neville further tweeted, “Leadership that builds a positive environment and culture whilst adhering to the clubs values and principles and one that is willing to make tough decisions to prevent erosion in the clubs public image. How does a minority stakeholder positively impact the club to achieve the above? Can a minority shareholder have any impact on the above? It leaves more questions than answers. My preference is and always will be now for a Glazer family full exit. They have overstayed their welcome in Manchester yet seem oblivious to this fact. There is much up in the air.”

Gary Neville is an English football pundit and former player. He is also a Co-Owner of the English Football League club Salford City. As a player, Neville played as a right-back and spent his entire playing career with Manchester United, making him a one-club man.

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