Ratcliffe backs building new Manchester United stadium – source

Sir Jim Ratcliffe favours building a new stadium for Manchester United rather than redeveloping Old Trafford, a source has told ESPN.

The club have put together a task force to assess options for “regenerating the Old Trafford area of Greater Manchester,” including Manchester mayor Andy Burnham and former United captain Gary Neville.

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It will be chaired by Lord Sebastian Coe, who led the organising committee for the London Olympics in 2012.

A source has told ESPN that United have already rejected options which include leaving the site of Old Trafford, but new co-owner Ratcliffe is leaning towards building a new 90,000-seater stadium rather than investing in the existing one.

“This can be a major regeneration project for an area of Greater Manchester which has played such a key role in British industrial history, but which today requires new investment to thrive again,” Ratcliffe said as the task force was unveiled on Friday.

“The northwest of England has a greater concentration of major football clubs than anywhere else in the world, yet we don’t have a stadium on the scale of Wembley, the Nou Camp or Bernabeu.

“We will not be able to change that on our own, which is why this task force is so important to help us seize this once-in-a-century opportunity.”

One of the aspects the task force will look at is how the club will pay for the project.

A source has told ESPN that United could fund a phased redevelopment of Old Trafford but that a completely new stadium, which could cost up to £2 billion ($2.57bn), would require outside investment.

“I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege of playing hundreds of games at Old Trafford, and no one can take away those amazing memories,” said Neville.

“But Old Trafford has evolved throughout its history and it’s clear we are at a point where it has to change again to ensure that Manchester United has a world-class stadium befitting the world’s greatest club.

“While I want the best for Manchester United, I also want the same for the surrounding community.

“Old Trafford should be a stadium that the whole of Greater Manchester can take pride in, and be a catalyst for sustainable, cohesive growth in an area of the city that has been neglected for too long.”