Man Utd blow as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bold plan to create ‘Wembley of the North’ at Old Trafford ‘unlikely’ to get funding


SIR JIM RATCLIFFE is “unlikely” to get the green light to build a £2billion Government-funded ‘Wembley  of the North’ for Manchester United’s Old Trafford.

The Ineos chief has plans for United to leave their 114-year home for a brand new state-of-the-art 90,000-capacity ground on land next to the stadium.

EPAAging Old Trafford might be even more difficult to replace now[/caption]

AFPSir Jim Ratcliffe is thought to have held talks with Mayor Andy Burnham[/caption]

United’s current stadium urgently needs modernising, at the very leastRex

Sir Jim, Britain’s second richest man,  is considering seeking help for local and national government funds to bring the ambitious plans for the ground, which would be the centrepiece of a sports and entertainment complex.

But while it is understood to be possible that a significant regeneration scheme could be considered by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, it appears that major hurdles would stand in the way.

So far there has been no approach made to the Government, although Sir Jim is believed to have had discussions with Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

Manchester City were gifted the Etihad Stadium after the 2002 Commonwealth Games while West Ham have a long term lease on the London Stadium, main venue for the 2012 Olympics.

Both clubs have made their grounds the focus of major regeneration schemes.

But United and Ineos would have to mount a convincing case for major public investment which would have to be a scheme which represented far more than just a new ground for the club.

All four current tranches of the Government’s Levelling Up fund have now been allocated although money could be potentially available through other financial packages.

It would, though, take what was described as a “very attractive regeneration project” for there to be likely to be serious interest from the Government in spending tax payer money on such a scheme.

Ratcliffe could propose a new venue on the land next to the current ground


Meanwhile, United fans say  Real Madrid’s refurbished Bernabeu should be the benchmark for a new look Old Trafford.

Supporters will be torn over whether they would prefer to redevelop their current home or start again from scratch nearby.

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Spanish giants Real recently completed their own renovation which cost around £850 million but looks spectacular.

That is similar to the figure being put on the cost of upgrading United’s current home – while a new stadium at Old Trafford could need anything up to £2 billion.

However the Manchester United Supporters Trust believe it will be key – as it will be a symbol of the club’s revival in the future. Lifelong United fan Ratcliffe has promised £237m to help revamp the stadium.

MUST chief Duncan Drasdo said: “Nothing would symbolise the renaissance of United more vividly than a truly world-class stadium, which could compare with our greatest rivals domestically and in Europe.

“Many United fans have looked at what Real Madrid have done and that level should be the benchmark.

“There is a feeling we’ve fallen behind not just on the pitch but in terms of the stadium and other facilities too.

“Having really ambitious people with a track record of major infrastructure development inspires fresh hope.”

The Trust hope fans will be fully consulted over the emotional decision on whether to leave the stadium which has been the club’s home since 1910.

It remains the biggest club stadium in the country – with a capacity of more than 74,000 – but has been left under the Glazer ownership.

Drasdo added: “There needs to be a rational debate about what is best for the football club and supporters and not just the best economic outcome for shareholders.

The noises we’re hearing from Ineos suggest they are sympathetic to that view.

“If you suggest Old Trafford is going to be knocked down clearly you’ll generate an immediate emotional and protective response from any supporter.

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“Most fans are torn on this and it is essentially a heart versus head issue.

“But we really need to see details of the two options side by side to make a comparison and allow fans to take an informed view.”

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