Sir Jim Ratcliffe is aiming to make Old Trafford the ‘Wembley of the North’

It really is putting the old in Old Trafford nowadays.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 6th February 2024

The new Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe is reportedly hoping to turn Old Trafford into the “Wembley of the North”, teasing ambitious plans to redevelop the club and its ageing stadium, as well as potentially reaching out to the government for extra funding.

Ratcliffe and the INEOS Group completed their 25% purchase of the football club on Christmas Eve 2023 and have gradually been laying foundations to rebuild the club and its infrastructure, such as installing Sir Dave Brailsford. Updating their iconic home ground is also at the top of the agenda for a lot of fans.

Speaking to Telegraph Sport in an exclusive interview, sources close to Ratcliffe have relayed that the British billionaire “feels the club needs an absolute state-of-the-art, knock-it-out-of-the-park, ‘wow’ stadium” to compete with the likes of the Etihad, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and, of course, Wembley.

For anyone who’s been living under a rock over the past few seasons, not only has the level of football and success declined in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson years at United but so too have the Old Trafford facilities, with numerous clips of leaks, even crumbling debris and more going viral.

This one is probably one of the most famous but there has been plenty more since.

In one of the most damning headlines for the so-called ‘Theatre of Dreams’ of late, the world-renowned sporting venue was given a one-star food hygiene rating after serving raw chicken merely days before Ratcliffe completed his partial takeover.


Nevertheless, the Failsworth-born businessman and his executive team apparently “feel there’s a strong argument for the country having a top-class major venue in the North – a Wembley of the North”, and that with the right investment Old Trafford can become that location.

While there had been some calls to bulldoze the site altogether and build a brand-new stadium, especially when Qatari investors were still looking to buy the club outright, the question of whether to renovate or start again is a sticking point for many, including Ratcliffe himself.


The report goes on to state that Ratcliffe is “broadly opposed to the idea of United having to relocate but believes supporters would be amenable to the idea of a world-leading new stadium on land immediately surrounding Old Trafford, the club’s home for the past 114 years.”

Ratcliffe is set to invest upwards of £237 million into redeveloping Old Trafford into the ‘Wembley of the North’.

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As the sources go on to say, “The spiritual home is important” but they did go on to add that “We think the fans would be quite happy to accept a brand new stadium if we stay where we are.”

Other key features that the current stadium lacks include reliable public WiFi and a screen for VAR decisions, which more and more clubs now have as standard given its prevalence in the modern game.


However, the problem presented by simply refurbishing the existing structure is that as the likes of Chris Lee, the managing director of Populous — the architectural designers overseeing the project — already told the outlet in December that a new stadium may end up being the cheapest option long-term.

They went on to insist that “the building is reaching the end of its natural life”, detailing that “the cabling, the electricity supplies, everything is nearing its sell-by date”. The question is, Reds, would you update the existing Old Trafford or knock it down and start again?

Animators and architects have already been digitally rendering what a new version of Old Trafford could look like.

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Featured Images — Ank Kumar (via Wikimedia Commons)