Man Utd Old Trafford expansion: Delay issue, ownership uncertainty and £2bn alternative plan
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Manchester United continue to receive plans for the possible update to Old Trafford while the ownership situation remains in the air. The Red Devils once had one of the best stadiums in the world, with the Theatre of Dreams the toast of England, but standards have been allowed to slip at Old Trafford, which looks very dated nowadays, quickly falling behind the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and others.
Fans have been calling for the ground to be updated for years, and there has been some progress, but feet are being dragged again amid uncertainty over the Glazers and their ownership. Here we round up all the latest on Old Trafford’s possible redevelopment.
In April of 2022, United hired world-class architects, Legends International and Populous to assess Old Trafford and possible options to improve it.
The company has experience in world-class stadium building, and they were asked to draw up plans both to refurbish and update Old Trafford, and also to assess where a new stadium could be built, and indeed what that new stadium would look like.
Fans were surveyed as part of the research, and the company has been working on plans for months, having designed Tottenham’s state of the art stadium. Should Old Trafford be updated, it’s expected the current capacity would be increased somewhat, but the focus would be on improving the matchday experience with greater comfort for the existing seats.
As part of the redevelopment research, many United fans were sent a survey to ask whether they would like to see a new stadium or whether they want to see Old Trafford updated. The survey was sent to season ticket holders, official members, executive club members and other supporter groups, with questions asked around matchday experience, food and drink, atmosphere and entertainment.
Collette Roche, chief operating officer, said of the survey: “We want to hear from as many fans as possible during this process to ensure we can capture all their views and understand what our supporters want from a world-class stadium in the future. This important survey is the first stage of our wider consultation with fans and will be followed by focus groups and further targeted surveys to make sure fan voice is at the heart of our decision-making process.”
A recent report from the Manchester Evening News has claimed the redevelopment of the stadium is on the cards, but it’s unlikely any work will happen for around two years. The improvements floated are deemed ‘possible’, but United are said to have admitted that there are ‘significant challenges’ to the work.
Collette Roche, United’s chief operating officer, told a fans’ forum: “Findings so far show that it is possible to redevelop Old Trafford to take it to the next level, but there are significant challenges in terms of complexity, timing, cost, and disruption, not least because of the inherent constraints around our site, including proximity to the adjacent railway line, canal, public access routes and housing. In short, it’s possible but not easy.
“Further work is required to finalise this phase, including refinement of existing options and exploration of potential alternatives. Once we have landed on our preferred option, we will then be able to move to phase two, which will comprise more detailed design work, further stakeholder engagement and detailed technical feasibility studies.”
According to the latest report from the Daily Mail, United have now been presented with plans both to update Old Trafford and for a new stadium.
It’s reported that the Old Trafford makeover plans would cost £1billion to execute, while the new stadium would come at a cost of £2billion. The architecture group recently completed their initial assessments, and the two plans were then presented to United. Exact costs have not been mapped out, but the estimated costs are used to give an idea of the kind of finance required.
But with United currently up for sale, all plans are said to be on hold, with the Glazers not wanting to commit to such a hefty investment when they could end up leaving in the near future. Alternatively, the Glazers may stay in place while welcoming significant investment, but until it is clear what the future of the club holds, it’s reported that no plans are going to be finalised until that point.