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Old Trafford redevelopment: Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants 'a national stadium in the north'

Old Trafford redevelopment: Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants 'a national stadium in the north'

  • Written by Dan Rowan and Matt Davis
  • BBC Sports

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'It's not a simple solution at Manchester United' – Sir Jim Ratcliffe speaks to BBC Sports Editor Dan Rowan

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Manchester United's new co-owner, has said his “preference” is to build a new stadium for the club that can also “serve the north of England”.

United have played at Old Trafford, which has a capacity of 74,310 fans since 1910, but Ratcliffe admitted that the stadium had become “tired and in need of renovation.”

A new stadium could be built next to the existing ground at Trafford Park.

The British billionaire said: “It is time to build a national stadium in the north of England.”

Ratcliffe added that the potential project could be a “catalyst for regeneration” in south Manchester and would therefore require a “conversation” with the government about the use of taxpayers’ money.

“I would be very excited for the north of England.”

Ratcliffe spoke about the possibility of the new stadium hosting England's matches and the FA Cup semi-finals, both of which will be held at Wembley Stadium in London, in addition to the Champions League final.

He said there was “a huge bias regarding major investments in the South.”

Old Trafford has not been selected to host matches at Euro 2028, and last hosted the Champions League final in 2003 when Milan beat Juventus on penalties.

Image source, Getty Images

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Old Trafford has been Manchester United's home ground since 1910

Manchester-born Ratcliffe, 71, completed a deal to buy a stake in the club worth around $1.6bn (£1.25bn) on Monday. The deal includes $300m (£237m) for future investment in the club's stadium.

Ratcliffe said the renovation option would create a stadium with a capacity of 80,000 to 90,000 people, but it “would not be ideal” because of the age of the ground.

Speaking about the construction of a new stadium, he said: “Trafford Park is where the industrial revolution started. If you look at that area of ​​Manchester today – just a mile from the center – it is tired, neglected and parts of it are completely run down.

“There is a huge debate, in my view, to regenerate the whole south side of Manchester. The core of that would be to build a new, world-class, state-of-the-art stadium that could host England matches, and the FA Cup. The final, the Champions League final, could serve the north England.

“There is a bias in the UK as to where national stadiums are built – they are all in the south. There is a lot of talk about raising the bar. HS2 has been canceled and it will all be spent on the rail network in London. People in the north pay taxes the same as people in the South.

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Will Manchester United build a new stadium?

“Why shouldn't there be a place in the north of England for England to play? Why does everyone in the north have to go south for an FA Cup semi-final?”

When asked if public funding would be used, he added: “I think that as part of the regeneration project, there needs to be a conversation with the national government.

He added: “The North deserves some thought and so does the South, I think, if it's a national stadium.”

Trafford Council has drawn up a draft 15-year plan to regenerate the area around the stadium, which is set to be put out for public consultation. She said the work would create “a high-quality environment for Manchester United as they develop their plans to create a world-class football stadium”.

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