Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, has confirmed he has held talks with INEOS over the future of Old Trafford ahead of any potential redevelopment. Sir Jim Ratcliffe reportedly wants to explore options to upgrade Manchester United’s iconic stadium’s capacity to 90,000, while a demolition and rebuild job is also not out of the question.
Ratcliffe’s £1.3billion investment in United is set to be ratified by the Premier League this month, handing him a 29 per cent stake and total control of the club’s football operations.
The 71-year-old tycoon has pledged £245m of his personal wealth as initial investment in United’s infrastructure, including plans to upgrade Old Trafford and their Carrington training complex.
Old Trafford has fallen behind its rivals in time due to minimal investment from the Glazer family, a prominent source of the fanbase’s widespread dislike of the American owners.
The 74,000-capacity ‘Theatre of Dreams’ is England’s largest club ground but was snubbed when the country hosts EURO 2028.
Manchester City’s 53,400-capacity Etihad Stadium, among those to have modernised while United have stalled, was selected.
It was said to be a joint decision between the club and the FA due to firm redevelopment plans, which could still be ongoing when the tournament takes place in four years.
It remains to be seen whether United will redevelop Old Trafford where it stands – an option favoured by many supporters keen to retain the historic sporting venue’s memories – or rebuild a state-of-the-art stadium from scratch – an option reportedly recommended by the architects in charge.
Burnham has confirmed that he has held talks with United’s new investors over proposed changes to Old Trafford.
And the mayor has vowed to support the club’s “exciting” plans when they are established.
“To any United fans listening, I am not trying to steer it in any particular way – that’s not my job. Your club needs to decide what it wants,” Burnham told BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday.
“All I am saying is, we are absolutely standing behind the club in saying whatever it is they want, we will facilitate. We will be there to make sure that the club is set up for the future.
“I think there is an exciting potential here. I am talking to the club. I may well be seeing them next week. Sir Jim has really brought a lot of energy to the situation.
“Sir Dave Brailsford is a brilliant person and is the architect of British cycling success over the last couple of decades and the velodrome in Manchester.
“He was very much involved in the building of the velodrome, and he is bringing that expertise now to United.”