Man Utd confirm plan to bulldoze Old Trafford and build 'world class' new stadium


Manchester United have confirmed they plan to build a state-of-the-art new stadium that could cost as much as £3billion. United will knock down the 75,000-seater Old Trafford and build a new home on the existing site or on land adjacent to it. In a lengthy statement, the Red Devils have said they want to build a "world-class" stadium as they also look to regenerate the Old Trafford area of Greater Manchester.

United's new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe had already publicly shared his vision to build a 'Wembley of the North' to replace the current Old Trafford, which he labelled "tired and in need of refurbishment". A new stadium could cost as much as £3bn while revamping the current infrastructure would have come to a cost of roughly £1bn.

It has been decided that the best idea would be to construct a brand new ground to transform the fans' experience and support the surrounding community. The majority owners of United, the Glazers, are supportive of the plan with the Premier League giants eager to have the best stadium in the world.

Sir Jim is ready to use some of his own fortune to part fund it. But the British billionaire has also put forward the idea that a new stadium could double up as a national arena, suggesting he'd like to talk to the Government about the possibility of taxpayers helping to fund the project.

That prospect is unlikely but Trafford Council have already welcomed the plans to regenerate the area. They said it will fall upon United to fund the new ground. And the 20-time English champions confirmed in a statement on Friday that an 'Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force' will now look at how a redeveloped stadium can be at the heart of the plan to benefit the local region.

The club said local leaders and national experts will be a part of the team tasked with delivering social and economic benefits and 'levelling up' the area between Trafford Park and the banks of Salford Quays. They will require public or private funding for it. United have not ruled out public funding but are not 'looking for handouts'.

United want to improve local transport hubs, amenities and mixed income housing and could even build an education institution as part of the regeneration. They added: "Chaired by Lord Sebastian Coe, former Chair of the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, the task force will assess the feasibility of a new stadium of national significance equipped to host international games and finals, as well as providing a modernised home for Manchester United. 

"Other members will include Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, Sara Todd, Chief Executive of Trafford Council, and Gary Neville, former captain of Manchester United.

They are keen to build a stadium that can "reduce the over-concentration of major sporting venues and events in London and the south-east". Lord Coe said: "Throughout my career in sport, I have seen the potential for stadiums to become focal points for strong communities and catalysts for social and economic development.

"That was certainly true of the venues we built in east London for the 2012 Olympics, and we are overdue a project of similar scale and ambition in the north of England. I am honoured to have this opportunity to share my experience in support of this tremendously exciting project."

While Sir Jim, United's largest individual shareholder, added: "This can be a major regeneration project for an area of Greater Manchester which has played such a key role in British industrial history, but which today requires new investment to thrive again.

"The north-west of England has a greater concentration of major football clubs than anywhere else in the world, yet we don't have a stadium on the scale of Wembley, the Nou Camp or the Bernabeu. We will not be able to change that on our own, which is why this task force is so important to help us seize this once-in-a-century opportunity."

It comes after Trafford Council councillor Liz Patel said the idea of a 'Wembley of the North' would be "wonderful". Sara Todd, chief executive of the council, said in United's statement: "We are very pleased that Manchester United have confirmed their commitment to remaining at Old Trafford, their historic home, and welcome the prospect of renewed investment in the development of a world-class stadium. 

"As plans for the stadium and the neighbouring Trafford Wharfside area progress, we have a unique opportunity to truly transform the historic industrial 'engine room' of Greater Manchester into a modern hub for growth and a new community, and we want to build on the socio-economic benefits this will bring, particularly for local residents. 

"We are committed to working with the club, local residents and other key partners to develop these exciting and ambitious proposals."

For now, it is unclear how long the Sir Jim and INEOS-led project would take. A new stadium could also include a new museum as well as a five-star hotel. Sir Jim has already held talks with fan and community leaders to discuss the options and build relationships with stakeholders who could be key partners in the plans.

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