Design & Development

Ratcliffe targeting 100,000-capacity stadium for United

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

Manchester United shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe has set out his vision for a 100,000-capacity stadium for the Premier League club that would rival the revamped Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Spotify Camp Nou.

Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of petrochemicals company Ineos, has made his latest declarations on the potential future for United in an interview with the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast. Welsh cyclist Thomas rides for Ineos Grenadiers, the UCI WorldTour team that is another part of Ratcliffe’s sporting empire.

Ratcliffe and Ineos last month completed their deal for a minority stake in United, with the closure of the agreement set to allow plans to advance for Old Trafford stadium. The British billionaire, a boyhood United fan, has since been vocal over his vision for United’s stadium infrastructure, in particular the potential to develop a “Wembley of the North” for the club.

“Manchester United are arguably, I would say, the greatest club in the world, but you’d definitely say one of the top three clubs in the world,” Ratcliffe said. “So it needs to have a stadium that befits the club and the brand.

“That might have been the case 20 years ago, but it isn’t the case today. It is the biggest Premier League stadium but is looking a little bit tired, especially when you look at what Real Madrid are doing with the Bernabéu and Barcelona are doing with the Nou Camp.

“You look at the Premier League and we don’t have anything that compares with the Bernabéu or the Nou Camp. Yet the Premier League is several times bigger than the Spanish league in terms of size, scale and importance because that is where all the money and the TV (revenue) is. The Premier League needs to have some grounds that are the equal of our European competitors.”

Earlier this month, United announced a taskforce to explore options for the redevelopment of Old Trafford. Lord Sebastian Coe, who chaired the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympic Games and now serves as president of World Athletics, will chair the taskforce.

The taskforce will oversee options for the regeneration of the Old Trafford area of Greater Manchester, with the development of a “world-class” football stadium at the heart of the project.

The taskforce will examine how stadium development can support renewal of the area and deliver social and economic benefits for the entire region. United said the taskforce will assess the feasibility of a new stadium of “national significance” that is equipped to host international games and finals, as well as providing a modernised home for the club.

The project aims to support revitalisation of the area between Trafford Park and the banks of Salford Quays and will tie in with Trafford Council’s Trafford Wharfside Framework. Last month, Trafford Council approved the first stage of ambitious plans to regenerate a huge area encompassing Old Trafford, but said the club would need to bear responsibility for financing its stadium vision.

The announcement came after United had earlier welcomed Trafford Council’s plans to regenerate the area around the stadium. Trafford Council plans on redeveloping the Trafford Wharfside area over the next 15 years.

Ratcliffe reiterated that the option of redeveloping the existing 74,310-seat Old Trafford remains, along with the widely regarded favoured choice of utilising land adjacent to the facility to develop a new home for United.

He said: “We can refurbish the ground and make a really nice job of that because it’s a fantastic stadium. That would cost about £1bn (€1.17bn/$1.27bn) and the club can shoulder that burden. But we have this opportunity, if we choose to, to build this completely new ground because we have enough space.

“If you built a completely new ground, it would absolutely be state-of-the-art, world class, 90,000 or maybe even 100,000 (capacity), and that then provides a platform for some of the big competitions in the north of England.

“Why does England always play in the south, why shouldn’t they play in the north? Why is the FA Cup final always in the south? Why shouldn’t the (UEFA) Champions League final be played in the north occasionally?”

In April 2022, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a masterplan for the redevelopment of Old Trafford.