England: Will Manchester United leave Old Trafford?

source: StadiumDB.com; author: Miguel Ciołczyk Garcia

England: Will Manchester United leave Old Trafford? The Red Devils dream of a modern stadium, but due to the age of the installations and the complex surroundings, a major upgrade is not an option. The stadium will have to be built from scratch and the club will have to move out. What are its options?


Nuclear option rejected

As we have reported in recent days, Manchester United intends to implement an ambitious plan to build a new Old Trafford from scratch, which would become the Wembley of the North. This is likely to result in Manchester United relocating while the new venue is built. Finding a replacement stadium will be a tricky task.

For fans, the best solution would be to find a stadium as close to the old venue as possible, which would keep attendance high and save both club and fans from travelling long distances.The perfect solution comes to mind immediately - Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City, is only 6.5 kilometres from the Red Devils' venue. However, there is a small obstacle - the fierce rivalry between the Manchester clubs - which makes this option impossible.

According to the Manchester Evening News, an important member of the club's administration has already said that there is no chance of playing at the Etihad. City's other two stadiums, Joie Stadium, where City reserves play, and Broadhurst Park, owned by F.C United, are even less of an option. The latter was built by fans who went on strike against the takeover of MU by American billionaire Malcolm Glazer.

Etihad Stadium© The Film Hub | Etihad Stadium

Main options for the Red Devils' move

The nearest major stadium to Manchester is Anfield, located in Liverpool 51 km from Old Trafford. The venue, due to its capacity (54,362 seats) and location, would be the most favourable viable option. UK media also indicate that this is the option the club is most likely to seek. On the other hand, Liverpool FC is also a fierce rival of the Red Devils.

Should a move to The Beatles’ city fail, the attention of the club's governing body would shift from west to east to Sheffield, where two arenas are available. The first is Bramall Lane with a capacity of almost 32,000, where first division Sheffield United play. The second is the 35,000-capacity Hillsborough Stadium, the venue of Championship-playing Sheffield Wednesday FC.

Another good alternative would be to move to Leeds, at Elland Road. The arena, where Leeds United play their Championship matches on a daily basis, has a capacity of almost 38,000 and is 65 kilometres from Old Trafford. Toughsheet Community Stadium is also an option due to its location, although it can only hold 29,000 fans.

Toughsheet Community Stadium© ynysforgan_jack | Toughsheet Community Stadium

Surrounding contingency alternatives

Should all the aforementioned options prove unrealistic, the Red Devils could bail out with smaller surrounding venues, which have the advantage of being less distant from the city of Manchester. However, it is difficult to imagine Manchester United playing at the 10,000-seater Spotland Stadium, Edgeley Park or Leigh Sports Village Stadium (12,000 seats).

Apart from these, the remaining options are John Smith’s Stadium in Huddersfield, with a capacity of 24,000 fans, the 30,000-capacity bet365 Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent and Deepdale Stadium in Preston, with 23,404 seats.These venues, however, are neither attractive nor exceptionally well located, so they will probably be last on United's wish list.

A crazy possibility is Wembley Stadium, but due to its distance from Manchester it would not meet with fan approval, to say the least. There are plenty of options, however, and the choice will depend on the clubs' willingness to 'share' their venue, the cost of such a deal and the time Manchester United will have to spend away from Old Trafford. A decision should be made within a few months.

John Smith’s Stadium (Kirklees Stadium)© Rambler1977 (cc: by-nc-nd) | John Smith's Stadium