Manchester United

Manchester United believe redeveloping Old Trafford is possible but work on major improvements to the stadium are likely to be two years away still, with the project also facing major challenges.

United have been working with master planners Populous and business planning consultant Legends on feasibility work to improve Old Trafford.

So far that work has looked at redeveloping Old Trafford and while the conclusion is that it’s possible, United admit there are “significant challenges” to it.

As part of the initial phase of the plans, the planners will now look at alternative options, which is likely to include building a new stadium on the existing Old Trafford site, with the club owning plenty of land to make that a potential course of action.

Collette Roche, United’s chief operating officer, told the latest fans’ forum: “Findings so far show that it is possible to redevelop Old Trafford to take it to the next level, but there are significant challenges in terms of complexity, timing, cost, and disruption, not least because of the inherent constraints around our site, including proximity to the adjacent railway line, canal, public access routes and housing. In short, it’s possible but not easy.

“Further work is required to finalise this phase, including refinement of existing options and exploration of potential alternatives. Once we have landed on our preferred option, we will then be able to move to phase two, which will comprise more detailed design work, further stakeholder engagement and detailed technical feasibility studies.”

United are continuing to work with Legends and Populous to finalise their preferred option before they move on to phase two, which will include more detailed design. It means any work starting on the site is likely to be at least two years away.

“We are currently at the initial feasibility stage, and further work is required to determine our preferred option before moving to phase two, which will be more focused on design,” said Roche.

“Although timescales are uncertain, we expect phase two to last about nine months, following which we can move to finalisation and planning, which could take up to a further year. It is only then that we will be able to appoint partners for the construction and delivery phase.

“These timings are in line with industry best practice – as you will appreciate, we need to take time to get it right, and it is not a quick fix. In relation to the number of extra seats and cost, it is too early to give any definitive details in this regard, but we are working through various options.”

United have also revealed that the project will require “significant investment”, but they have moved to assure supporters this will be funded in a “responsible way”, with protests over the Glazers’ ownership continuing at games this season.

Funding could also be compromised given the war in Ukraine, the economic downturn and the impact that is having on the construction industry.

“At this stage, we have not concluded our funding strategy, given we are only at initial feasibility – this will be more of a focus at phase two,” added Roche.

“However, it is clear that any project of this size and nature will require significant investment, but you can be assured that this will be managed in a responsible and balanced way.

“It should also be noted that the impact of recent global events needs to be carefully considered, with significant volatility in the construction industry, plus fans will appreciate that investment on the pitch has also been, and will always be, a priority for us.”

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