Sir Jim Ratcliffe reveals Manchester United plans to build ‘100,000-seater’ Old Trafford

Sir Jim Ratcliffe has laid out plans to build a “state of the art” stadium for Manchester United with a capacity as high as 100,000.

Ratcliffe completed a deal for a stake in the club last month and has taken control of football affairs at Old Trafford.

The Ineos chairman has been open in his desire to renovate or rebuild the club’s long-time home, which has been in need of modernisation for some time.

A number of Premier League clubs have embarked on new stadium projects or extensive improvements to their existing grounds, while Ratcliffe is also envious of the facilities enjoyed by Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Indeed, the 71-year-old believes Manchester United deserve a stadium that reflects their place as one of the world’s biggest sporting entities.

“Manchester United are arguably the greatest club in the world,” Ratcliffe told the Geraint Thomas Cycling Club podcast. “Definitely in the top three clubs in the world. They are probably the biggest sports brand worldwide. It’s a bit like Coca-Cola – anywhere you go in the world, they’ve heard of Manchester United.

“It needs to have a stadium that is befitting the club and the brand. That might have been the case 20 years ago, but it isn’t today. [Old Trafford] is a little bit tired.

Jim Ratcliffe would like Manchester United to have a stadium befitting their status (PA)
Jim Ratcliffe would like Manchester United to have a stadium befitting their status (PA)

“If you look at what Real Madrid are doing with the Bernabeu and Barcelona with the Nou Camp, the Bernabeu is fabulous. It’s like a cauldron of noise. The Nou Camp is enormous and they are spending a lot of money revamping it.

“You look at the Premier League, we don’t have anything that compares. And yet the Premier League is several times bigger than the Spanish league in terms of size, scale and importance today. That’s where all the money is with TV. The Premier League needs to have some grounds which are the equal of our European competitors.”

Manchester United have occupied their Stretford home since 1910, with expansions in the 1990s and 2000s returning to a capacity of just short of 75,000.

While suggesting that further redevelopment is an option, Ratcliffe would prefer to build a “world class” arena that could bring some of sport’s biggest events to the north of England.

Old Trafford is tired and in need of investment (Reuters)
Old Trafford is tired and in need of investment (Reuters)

“We can refurbish the ground and have a fantastic stadium, that will take about a billion to do that, and the club can shoulder that burden. But we have got this opportunity to build a new ground if we choose to. We’ve got enough space to build a completely new ground.

“If we build a completely new ground, it would be state of the art, world-class, [have a capacity of] 90,000 or even 100,000. I think that then provides a platform for some of the big competitions in the north of England. Why shouldn’t England play in the north? Why is the FA Cup final always in the south?

“Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool have won 10 Champions Leagues. London [clubs] have won two Champions Leagues. There are occasions where Liverpool are providing six or seven players to the England team. Football is just as important to the north as the south – and arguably more so.”

Ratcliffe also discussed transfer strategy, stressing he would rather find the “next Mbappe” than spend big on current superstars of the game.