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United View: Do United need a new stadium?

Earlier this month, Manchester United announced it had assembled a task to explore the options for a regeneration of Old Trafford.

It’s unforeseen whether this means the club will develop the current stadium or build a new one and, in this article, we’ll explore both options.

The task force itself, comprising of Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, Chief Executive of Trafford, Council Sara Todd and former Manchester United Captain and world’s busiest man, Gary Neville, will look to revitalise the area between Trafford Park and the banks of Salford Quays. Along with the development of a ‘world-class football stadium’.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said this is a ‘once-in-a-century’ opportunity and wants to bring a football stadium on the scale of Wembley, the Nou Camp and the Bernabeu to the Northwest.

If United were to refurbish Old Trafford, they could look to Real Madrid who have been upgrading the Santiago Bernabeu, allowing for large-scale events such as concerts and a retractable pitch to host other sports. The cost of which is valued at £1.51bn and is expected to be paid off by 2053.

One suggestion made for a revamp at Old Trafford is the expansion of the single-tiered south stand, with a capacity of around 9,000. But if the club aims to play in a world-leading stadium, plenty more work would need to be done.

However, to achieve this United would likely need to relocate to allow building works to take place and with few alternatives able to meet the demands of a club like Manchester United, could a new stadium be a more appropriate alternative?

Spurs recently moved into their new stadium back in 2019, a state-of-the-art venue that also has its own retractable pitch, capable of hosting boxing, rugby, and NFL fixtures, amongst other events. Along with bringing in more money per match compared to any other Premier League team.

While the thought of American Football being played at Old Trafford might make some fans wince, it’s another revenue stream to capitalise upon. However, the new owners will need to strike a balance between the club’s traditions and commercial interests.

Should the decision be to build a new stadium, the club would likely need to take on more debt. Recently the club paid off £120m from their £773.3m debt, reducing their overall value now to £653.3m.

It’s been a taboo subject around Old Trafford, ever since the Glazer’s initial takeover put the club into debt for the first time in its history. And the potential of more being placed on the club could be seen as a negative.

It could be seen as more of an investment, in contrast to the Glazers leveraging money against the club. Think of it like building an extension onto a house to add value to the property. Currently United make around £3.2m million every matchday, something that could significantly improve after renovation.

Right now, it’s all speculation and a decision is set to be made at some point this year. Whatever the outcome, it feels like the beginning of a new dawn at Manchester United. Ambitious changes to usher the club into the modern era of football, for better or worse.

The Reds return to action this Saturday following the international break, where they take on Brentford. Erik ten Hag’s men will look to continue their high spirits following the FA Cup victory over Liverpool, while Thomas Frank’s side aim to stay in the division after being dragged into the relegation dogfight in recent weeks.

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