England: Old Trafford to grow to 80,000?
source: StadiumDB.com [TS]; author: Tomasz Sobura
According to many United fans, the stadium needs significant changes. It is not only about increasing the number of seats available, but also about improving the comfort of watching matches.
There has been talk of the expansion of the Theater of Dreams for many years. But it all ends with empty declarations or with excuses from club management that over £100 million has been invested in the ground since 2005.
No specific remedial measures have been taken after the wave of criticism of the stadium's condition in recent years. Local newspapers have reported on several occasions about the leaking roof of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand and about the "waterfall" gushing down from the Stretford End roof prior to the April 2019 derby. The present state of Old Trafford was also vividly described by former Manchester United captain Gary Neville who said the stadium was "rotting".
Club officials are increasingly under pressure to renovate the Red Devils facility. Joel Glazer (United co-chairman) announced at the Fan Forum meeting on September 24 that "early-stage planning work" is underway to redevelop Old Trafford and the Carrington training ground.
However, no details were given, not to mention the scope of works, their cost estimate and schedule. It was only revealed that one of the main assumptions was the expansion of Old Trafford from 74,140 seats to a minimum of 80,000.
Manchester United are losing in this field not only to domestic rivals, but also to competitors from leading European leagues. Bayern Munich opened a new venue, adapted to the realities of the 21st century, and so did Juventus. Real Madrid is currently finalising the reconstruction of Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, and FC Barcelona is preparing plans to renovate Camp Nou.
Meanwhile, United are convinced that their stadium is iconic. Undoubtedly it is so, but without the investment, it may be difficult for the Red Devils ground to compete with the new arenas in the long run. The club is doing great in other fields of operations and is in the forefront in terms of revenues, so the stadium cannot be left behind.
It is not without reason that the biggest clubs from the Premier League every now and then announce plans to redevelop their stadiums. Liverpool FC has recently revealed an expansion to the Anfield Road Stand and previously carried out other upgrades in 2016. Leicester City has advanced expansion plans and Everton has already started building a new venue. Over the past two decades, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham have moved to new stadiums.
Author: Tomasz Sobura