Manchester United takeover candidates Sheikh Jassim and Sir Jim Ratcliffe were both very interested in plans to redevelop Old Trafford during their visits in March, according to reports. Both parties have promised to improve the facilities at the stadium and training ground, should they purchase the club from the Glazers.
United’s chief operating officer Collette Roche spoke with the Qatari’s camp and Britain’s richest man when they attended Old Trafford. And she confirmed that they were very interested in how they could improve the Red Devils’ home.
“It’s an interesting question, and one that each of the investors asked me,” Roche told the Athletic. “It just depends on: one, how much money people want to invest; two, how much disruption we’re willing to stomach, because rebuilding or redeveloping a stadium is not done easily, as we’ve seen at other clubs; and three, how long do people expect to get a return? I just think those questions are something only the person paying for it can answer.”
Old Trafford is the second largest stadium in England but it has not been selected as one of the 10 venues to host a Euro 2028 match. But across the city fans will be able to take in the international tournament at the Etihad Stadium.
An improvement in facilities should help United’s ground return to the prestige that it was previously held, where they were regularly trusted to host England national team matches and FA Cup semi-finals.
Roche added: “There are lots of different options around redeveloping or, equally, building something new on the same footprint. We’ve spent quite a lot of time over the last few years acquiring land in the area to safeguard that decision. So those options are open to us, potentially. Gaining planning permission, the railway that we’ve got to go over… it’s not without its challenge, but nothing’s impossible, I would say.”
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Before any major decisions are made, first team manager Erik ten Hag will be briefed to avoid causing any troubles to his plans.
United’s head of fan engagement Rich McGagh explained: “There is also a consideration about disruption to the team. What does playing in front of a three-quarter (built) stadium for a period of time look and feel like to them? Is that going to have a negative impact on performance? There will be discussions with the performance team to look at that. No stone will be left unturned.”
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