Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said that he wants Manchester United’s stadium to turn into the ‘Wembley of the North’.
The British billionaire agreed a deal for a 25% stake in the English Premier League club, and as part of the agreement, the 71 year-old guaranteed an investment of £237m for the stadium.
However, Ratcliffe’s latest plans to turn Old Trafford into the ‘Wembley of the North’ is estimated to cost £2bn and could take over eight years to complete.
Fans of the football club have long-called for a renovation of the ground, with reports of leaks that drip onto fan’s seats during games and out-of-date technology topping the list of what needs to be done.
Since the Glazer family announced a sale of a share in Manchester United in 2022, supporters have debated with each other over what should be done to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’, which has been the home stadium of United since 1910.
The debate has centred around the question, should the ground be renovated or completely knocked down?
Unfortunately for supporters, Ratcliffe’s recent plans aren’t clear. However, what is clear is that a new stadium – more than likely on the same land – would cost around £2bn and that isn’t likely to be funded by the new partial owner.
Currently, Old Trafford has a capacity of 74,310, making it the largest club stadium in the UK. To gain the title of ‘Wembley of the North’ capacity would need to increase to 90,000.
If the club did decide to rebuild rather than renovate, the land that Old Trafford sits on could be used to rebuild not only a new stadium,but also an area for other commercial business, such as a separate arena – like its Manchester rivals have done – a university and a hotel, linking all the way up to Media City.
It has been reported that the billionaire has started talks with the government in hopes of lobbying the government for funding this project as part of its pledge to ‘Level Up’ the North, but according to Mail Sport, government sources have said that a simple injection of taxpayer cash to a Premier League giant is highly unlikely.
Nevertheless, Manchester United’s fans shouldn’t lose all hope as opening discussions is one step in the right direction, with both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur recently increasing capacity at their home stadiums.