Thursday, April 25, 2024

Trafford Council ‘looking forward’ to working with Man United on stadium plan

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 22 Feb 2024

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Trafford Council is looking forward to working with Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe on his ambitious plans to regenerate the south of the city.

Ratcliffe set out two routes to providing United with a stadium which he feels would befit the club’s status – either a redevelopment of Old Trafford or building a brand-new stadium which would be a northern rival to Wembley.

Ratcliffe sees the extra revenue generated from either option as a key factor in helping United consistently challenge north-west rivals Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European honours, having vowed on Wednesday to “knock both of them off their perch”.

He anticipated redevelopment would cost in the region of £1billion, while he estimated a new stadium and regeneration project would be £2billion. He saw no reason why state funding should not partially cover the cost of the bigger project, which he believes could transform the area around the stadium.

United’s existing leadership have been working alongside Trafford Council on its Trafford Wharfside development plan, and council leader Tom Ross was excited by Ratcliffe’s vision.

“We’ve got two visions that are coming together – a potential brand new stadium as discussed by Sir Jim, and also the vision we have for housing regeneration, bringing this area back to life,” Ross told BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday.

“There’s a lot of excitement in Manchester United about this as a key partner of ours. We look forward to working together to deliver those plans.”

Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that a task force – which could include former United defender Gary Neville – was being formed to consider the feasibility of the new stadium project. The PA news agency understands Trafford Council expects to be invited to join too.

United have been urged to actively involve local residents and small business owners in their plans as they consider how to proceed.

Dr Tom Bason, a sports legacy and football finance expert at Coventry University, highlighted research which found such groups had not been properly consulted in previous stadium-led regeneration projects, and ended up being priced out of the area.

“(Proper consultation) is the sort of thing that needs to happen from the start otherwise you do end up with this sort of displacement that we saw around the Olympic Stadium (in east London),” Dr Bason told PA.

“It’s not always intentional, but if you see house prices or rent increases going up 20, 30, 40 per cent, although you might not be kicked out because your house or flat is getting knocked down, you might still have to leave that area because you can’t afford to live there any more.

“The same happens with businesses – multinationals start coming in, you start to get chains of coffee shops rather than a local café for example.

“It’s not always intentional but if these sort of local community groups, residents and businesses aren’t part of the process, it is what happens every time.”

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