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Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants to build a national stadium for the north of England

Published: Updated: 14:23, 22 Feb 2024
The new Manchester United co-owner spoke passionately about the north/south divide in the country

Manchester United's new co-owner, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, has expressed his preference to build a new stadium that would not only serve the club but also cater to the north of England more generally.

This comes as part of his vision to rejuvenate Old Trafford, which has been home to Manchester United since 1910. Despite its rich history and impressive capacity of 74,310 seats, Ratcliffe acknowledges that Old Trafford is "tired and in need of refurbishment".

On top of giving Old Trafford a much-needed makeover, the British billionaire suggests building an entirely new stadium adjacent to the existing ground in Trafford Park. He believes it is high time someone built a national stadium in the north of England.

Ratcliffe sees this potential project as more than just an upgrade for Manchester United but a "catalyst for regeneration" in South Manchester as a whole.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, co-owner of Manchester United, told Dan Roan of the BBC:

"Trafford Park is where the industrial revolution began. If you look at that region of Manchester today - only a mile from the centre - it is tired and neglected and parts are quite run down."

"There is quite a big argument, in my view, for regenerating that whole south side of Manchester. The nucleus of it would be building a new world-class state-of-the-art stadium which could take England games, the FA Cup final, Champions League finals. It could serve the north of England."

"There is a bias in the UK in terms of where national stadiums have been built - they are all in the south. There is a lot of talk about levelling up. HS2 has been cancelled and all that is going to be spent on the rail network in London. The people in the north pay their taxes just as the people in the south."

"Why shouldn't there be a venue in the north of England for England to play at? Why does everyone in the north have to go to the south for the semi-finals of the FA Cup?"

Despite its iconic status among football fans worldwide, Old Trafford has not been selected to host games at the upcoming Euro 2028 and last staged a Champions League final back in 2003 when AC Milan triumphed over Juventus on penalties.

Ratcliffe to set up task force for promised stadium investment

Ratcliffe completed his deal worth approximately $1.6bn (£1.25bn) on Monday which includes $300m (£237m) earmarked specifically for future investment into the club's stadium.

The refurbishment plans at Old Trafford could take the capacity of the ground up to 80,000 to 90,000 seats.

To explore the feasibility of a new stadium next to Old Trafford, Ratcliffe plans to assemble an "arms-length task force". He has already initiated conversations with former United captain Gary Neville.

When asked about potential public funding, Ratcliffe stated that such discussions would be necessary as part of any regeneration project.

Trafford Council has developed a 15-year draft plan for regenerating the area around Old Trafford. The council believes this work will create "a high-quality setting for Manchester United as they develop their plans for a world-class football stadium".

The club, which was consulted on these plans, described them as "tremendously exciting".

With Sir Jim Ratcliffe's vision and investment in place, Manchester United fans can look forward to an exciting future both on and off the pitch. Likewise, residents of the Trafford area can be excited about the rejuvenation of their neighbourhoods.

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