Jim Ratcliffe suffers setback in Manchester United stadium plan

A new or improved stadium is on Jim Ratcliffe’s to-do list at Manchester United (Picture: Getty Images)

Jim Ratcliffe will not be able to use public funds to either redevelop Old Trafford or build a new Manchester United stadium, says former sports minister Tracey Crouch MP.

One of the many things Ratcliffe intends to improve since buying a 25 per cent stake in the Red Devils is the stadium, with Old Trafford deemed out-of-date for a string of reasons.

There have been reports of a leaking roof, cramped concourses, inadequate legroom, crumbling concrete, flaking paintwork and a lack of space to expand, while other clubs in the UK and across Europe have built modern grounds which put Manchester United’s to shame.

Ratcliffe and his INEOS team are considering whether it would be best to redevelop Old Trafford or build an entirely new stadium.

According to The Telegraph, INEOS CEO Ratcliffe wants United to have a state-of-the-art ground with a wow factor and he may seek to lobby the UK Government for funds amid Westminster’s ‘Levelling Up’ pledges.

However, Conservative MP Crouch says public funds would not be available to the billionaire for such a project, just as they weren’t for smaller clubs who may have needed them.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe knew what he was taking on when he bought into Manchester United,’ Crouch told City A.M.

Old Trafford may not be the home of Manchester United for much longer (Picture: ProSports/Shutterstock)

“Old Trafford may need upgrading to meet today’s standards, but funding should not come out of the taxpayer’s pocket to benefit the billionaires who own the club – especially as other clubs like Bury have faced ruin, devastating the town around them, with no bailout from the public purse.’

However, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, had a contrasting message, saying last week: ‘We are absolutely standing behind the club.

‘Whatever it is they want, we will facilitate and we will be there to make sure the club is set up for the future. There is exciting potential.’

Old Trafford was not on the list of 10 stadiums submitted to UEFA last year as part of the UK and Ireland’s bit to host Euro 2028.

Manchester United legend Gary Neville felt that was an illustration of the mismanagement of the ground and the club in general by the Glazer family.

‘The Glazer family have, for years, been warned about a lack of investment in Old Trafford,’ he said.

‘They have overseen a decline for 20 years in which it has gone from being one of the best stadiums in the world to one that can’t even get into the top 10 in the UK and Ireland. This is an all-time low.

‘That it is not in the best ten to host a tournament is a joke. There has been no investment. It is a rusty stadium. This is a dereliction of duty. It is shameful.’

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