The co-owner of the new Manchester United, Sir Jim Ratcliffe, admitted on Wednesday that Old Trafford is “tired and in need of renovation”, expressing his desire to create a national stadium in the north of England.
Ratcliffe officially became a co-owner on Tuesday after the club confirmed INEOS’ 27.7 per cent investment in Manchester United, with the British billionaire taking charge of football operations as part of the deal.
Earlier this month, Mail Sport revealed Ratcliffe’s £2bn plan to turn Old Trafford into a ‘Wembley of the North’, aiming to produce an iconic venue to rival England’s national stadium in London and its capacity for 90,000 people.
Renovating the existing 74,000-seat stadium, opened in 1910, would likely prove to be a short-term measure and would cost around £800m. Meanwhile, a new build can cost between £1bn and £2bn.
Confirming his plan Wednesday during his first television interview since becoming part owner, Ratcliffe told the bbc: “It’s about time someone built a national stadium in the north of England.”
Sir Jim Ratcliffe admitted Old Trafford is “tired and in need of renovation”.
The British billionaire wants to transform Manchester United’s home at the ‘Wembley of the North’ in a complete stadium rebuild that could cost more than £2bn.
Old Trafford currently has a capacity of 74,310 people, but United have long wanted to increase that capacity.
Ratcliffe (left) believes coach Erik ten Hag (centre) should not report directly to the chief executive, calling the structure “outdated” in a damning assessment of his new club.
The billionaire added that his “preference” is to use taxpayers’ money to fund the project, and described the new stadium as a catalyst for regeneration in south Manchester.
“If it can be done (with taxpayer money), it would clearly be my preference,” he said. ‘I would be very excited to come to the north of England. Trafford Park is where the industrial revolution began. If you look at that region of Manchester today, just a mile from the centre, it is tired and neglected and some parts are quite run down.
“In my opinion, there are quite strong arguments in favor of regenerating that whole southern part of Manchester. At the heart of it would be the construction of a new world-class, state-of-the-art stadium that could host England matches, the FA Cup final and the Champions League final. It could serve the north of England.
‘In the UK there is a bias as to where the national stadiums have been built: they are all in the south. There is a lot of talk about leveling up. HS2 has been canceled and all of that will go to London’s rail network. People in the north pay their taxes the same as people in the south.
‘Why shouldn’t there be a venue in the north of England for England to play in? Why does everyone from the north have to go south for the FA Cup semi-finals?
In another interview, Ratcliffe told the club’s website: “I mean, it’s an impressive stadium and it’s the biggest Premier League stadium in the country, the second biggest stadium in the country after Wembley I guess.”
Manchester United’s new structural hierarchy under co-owners Joel Glazer and Ratcliffe
Omar Berrada has been poached from Manchester City to take over as chief executive
United co-owner said Newcastle putting Dan Ashworth on gardening leave was ‘absurd’
“But it is not the level you would expect from Manchester United today and they have fallen behind.” Maybe 20 years ago it was (by the standard), but today it has been left behind.
“We need to look at the path forward for the stadium, the redevelopment of that stadium, and clearly there are two paths we could take: we could renovate the existing stadium or we could look at building a new stadium.” And that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
Ratcliffe also criticized Manchester United’s “outdated” structure and claimed a “lacking” culture as he revealed his plans to revolutionize the former giant of world football.
He and INEOS have already made it clear that big structural changes will be made behind the scenes.
Omar Berrada will join as chief executive, having been poached from rivals Manchester City, while talks are underway to bring in Newcastle United’s Dan Ashworth as sporting director.
Newcastle confirmed this week that Ashworth has been sidelined for gardening while the two clubs negotiate compensation, a decision Ratcliffe condemned as “absurd”.
Finally, the new co-owner hinted that Mason Greenwood could still have a future at Manchester United, despite the club loaning him out to La Liga side Getafe.
The England striker was suspended in January 2022 after being arrested on suspicion of raping and assaulting a woman.
Although the charges were dropped, it was understood that Greenwood would not play for United again after the club launched an investigation into his behavior and subsequently sent him on loan to Spain.
“It’s a new decision,” Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe also hinted that Mason Greenwood (above) could have a future at Manchester United.
‘I can talk about the beginning. I’m not going to talk about Mason. I’m familiar with that. The principle is the important one. We will have other problems in the future.
‘These are young people who have not always been raised in the best circumstances, who have a lot of money and do not always have the guidance they should have.
“What we must do when we have problems like that is to understand that what is real affects, not exaggerations, and then we must make a fair decision in light of the club’s values. That is what we have to do and that is how we will approach it “.