Design & Development

Ratcliffe spells out stadium vision for United

Featured image credit: Samuel Regan-Asante on Unsplash

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has reiterated his desire to build a new state-of-the-art stadium for Manchester United after completing a deal to acquire a minority stake in the club earlier this week.

United announced on Tuesday night that Ratcliffe and Ineos, the petrochemicals company he founded and chairs, had completed a deal for a minority stake in the club.

United and Trawlers Limited, an entity wholly-owned by Ratcliffe, confirmed that the boyhood United fan had completed his acquisition of 25% of the club’s Class B shares and 25% of the club’s Class A shares. The deal has a valuation of $1.3bn (£1bn/€1.2bn) and Ratcliffe is committing a further $300m from his personal wealth for “future investment” in the stadium.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Ratcliffe would push for a new stadium that would create a “Wembley of the North” for United. The club recently welcomed plans by Trafford Council to regenerate the area around Old Trafford and Ratcliffe has discussed his vision for a new stadium during an interview with BBC Sport.

“It’s about time someone built a national stadium in the north of England,” said Ratcliffe, who said a new stadium would be preferred over a redevelopment of the existing Old Trafford venue.

Despite being the largest club stadium in England with a capacity of 74,000, Old Trafford has not been selected as a venue for UEFA Euro 2028, which England will co-host alongside Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

It has also been over 20 years since Old Trafford last hosted the UEFA Champions League final and Ratcliffe believes that a new venue would help attract more top-tier events to Manchester.

He told BBC Sport: “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?”

Ratcliffe revealed that he has spoken to former United player Gary Neville over the plans for the project, with an “arms-length taskforce” to be formed. Ratcliffe added that there would be conversations with the national government regarding public funding for the project.

Trafford Council’s plans to regenerate the area around Old Trafford would be carried out over the next 15 years. United’s chief operating officer Collette Roche said the plans are “tremendously exciting”, with the club set to work alongside the council and other local stakeholders on any future development.

In April 2022, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a masterplan for the redevelopment of Old Trafford. It is believed that expanding Old Trafford would cost at least £800m, with a new stadium having a price tag in the range of £1.5bn to £2bn.