Manchester United is considering three options for the redevelopment of Old Trafford, including a complete rebuild of the stadium.
With a capacity of around 74,000, Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in England but United has fallen behind its rivals in recent years with the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur moving to new homes and Liverpool carrying out extensive redevelopment work at Anfield.
United recently detailed plans to upgrade Old Trafford, announcing that initial meetings had taken place between the club and “a number of architectural and engineering companies”. It has now emerged that one of the options being considered would centre on Old Trafford being knocked down and rebuilt.
According to The Telegraph, the rebuilt stadium would have a capacity to rival that of Wembley Stadium, which seats 90,000 fans. The site would also include a smaller ground for United’s women’s and academy teams.
Another option being considered is an expansion of Old Trafford’s South Stand, which is also known as the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand. In October, BBC Sport reported that United had opened discussions on a “major redevelopment” of the stadium that would centre on the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand and increase Old Trafford’s capacity to 80,000.
Previously, problems relating to the nearby railway line have been viewed as a potential obstacle to any work on the stand but improvements in construction materials could pave the way for the work to be carried out.
The third option said to be under consideration is a wider revamp of the 112-year-old stadium that would focus on revamping the spectator and corporate areas.
According to The Telegraph, United would favour a “phased rebuild” that would allow the club to continue playing at Old Trafford at full capacity, as opposed to partially closing the South Stand.
If United chose to knock down and rebuild Old Trafford, the club would be forced to find a temporary home to play matches, which could prove to be a stumbling block given the lack of suitable local options. A groundshare with Manchester City would appear to be out of the question.
Speaking at a fans’ forum meeting last month, United’s chief operating officer Collette Roche said: “We have met with companies across a range of disciplines, including architecture, engineering, construction, crowd modelling, transport, security and many more.
“We are hoping to appoint our preferred partners in the coming weeks; following this, we will be able to formally kick-off phase one of the project, which will be focused on establishing the vision and objectives for the masterplan.”