Old Trafford could be knocked down and rebuilt under plans being considered by Manchester United.
The club are close to appointing preferred partners for what could be the biggest redevelopment project in the club’s history after an exhaustive tender process, in which bidders were asked to submit three design proposals.
The most ambitious of those options is for a complete rebuild of Old Trafford, England’s largest club stadium with a capacity of 74,140, and United’s home since 1910.
If United pressed ahead, a larger stadium with a capacity to rival Wembley’s 90,000 would be built on a reconfigured site and could feature a smaller, second ground that could play home to the women’s team and academy matches.
The Glazer family have come in for heavy criticism in recent years from supporters for neglecting Old Trafford, which has become tired and outdated, particularly in relation to some of their rivals’ new state-of-the-art stadiums.
Although a full rebuild would be a much more straightforward project in many ways than redevelopment of the existing stadium, one of the biggest headaches would be where United would play their home matches while the work was carried out.
A ground share could present an array of problems and would also mean a severe hit to match-day revenue.
United generate at least £4.25 million (€5m) for every home game.
The other two options under consideration at Old Trafford
- An expansion of Old Trafford’s existing South Stand, which would involve going up and over the top of the adjacent railway line and increase capacity to more than 80,000, plus an overhaul of the rest of the stadium.
- A complete revamp of the existing stadium, including a drastic overhaul of the club’s corporate hospitality, but with no South Stand expansion.
The club ideally favour a phased rebuild that would allow them to keep playing matches at Old Trafford at full capacity, rather than accept the temporary closure of the South Stand.
However, the costs involved in such a project would sky-rocket if the preferred bidder was asked to redevelop the South Stand while it remained open to fans on match days.
In addition to plans for Old Trafford, United are redeveloping the Carrington training base with the aim of turning it into a world-class facility that better serves the first team, women’s team and academy.