England: Will Old Trafford get an upgrade?

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Mateusz Osmola

England: Will Old Trafford get an upgrade? British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly prepared to spend a substantial sum from his fortune to improve Manchester United's infrastructure. This money is part of a bid to acquire a minority stake in the English Premier League club.


New owner of the Red Devils

Manchester United's current owners, the US-based Glazer family, announced last November that they wanted to sell their stake in the club. Unfortunately, the sale of a majority stake in the Red Devils did not ultimately materialise.

The Qatari Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani was interested in buying United, but eventually withdrew his bid. Billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of petrochemical company Ineos, also had a desire to acquire the decorated club. Both bidders ultimately failed to meet the financial requirements set by the Glazer family, which has owned United since 2005. The Americans were expected to demand at least £5 billion for the club.

The new offer from the Ineos is for a 25% stake in the Red Devils, for which they will have to pay what is likely to be worth more than £1.25 billion. The English media are already reporting the first changes at the club. Richard Arnold is to leave his position as chief executive. This was one of the conditions imposed by Ratcliffe. The Briton is to take over the reins of sporting affairs and Arnold therefore had to leave the club. The Glazers, on the other hand, will continue to have a decisive say in financial matters. The owner of Ineos is not ruling out taking over another stake in the future. Part of the takeover bid was Ratcliffe's pledge to invest a not inconsiderable amount to improve Manchester United's infrastructure, including upgrading Old Trafford.

Old Trafford© Adam Koprowski


Ratcliffe wants to invest in Theatre of Dreams

The Ineos owner has pledged to initially commit £245m out of his own pocket to the long-awaited refurbishment of United's home ground. The investment would be spread over a period of time, with the majority of it to be launched by the end of the year. It is believed that the £245m will be funded personally by Ratcliffe and will not add to the Red Devils' existing loans, which currently stand at around £528.2m. The deal between Ineos and the Glazers is close to being finalised.

The company is said to be considering the possibility of increasing the capacity of the Old Trafford stadium to 90,000 seats. The redevelopment of the arena has been seen as a key part of any club takeover, with the stadium lagging behind the facilities of United's Premier League rivals in recent years. Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all moved to new homes, while Liverpool have carried out extensive modernisation work at Anfield.

In April last year, United appointed Legends International and Populous to lead a team tasked with creating a redevelopment plan for Old Trafford. Back in 2022, the Red Devils issued a statement announcing the start of a process to consider new investment in and the sale of the club. The review included the redevelopment of Old Trafford. It later emerged that demolishing the stadium and building a completely new facility was one of the options presented to the club. Possibilities to renovate and expand the stadium were also presented.

Old Trafford© Markus Unger (cc: by)