The Theatre of Dreams could soon become a coliseum of construction.
Manchester United’s 74,994 home is the largest club stadium in the UK but with calls to increase it to a capacity of over 88,000 to become the second-largest club stadium in Europe behind Barcelona’s Nou Camp, the club have revealed it will be far from easy to expand the venue further.
United’s managing director Richard Arnold spoke to United We Stand, via the South China Morning Post, and had the following to say when asked about expansion of Old Trafford.
“We haven’t left the easiest stand until last,” Arnold said. “The South Stand – the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand – is the last unexpanded stand. It is sandwiched in a fairly narrow strip of land between the pitch and the main Manchester to Liverpool railway. There is not much space on either side of the stand, meaning that it is a very complex engineering challenge to deliver. It would be a multi-season challenge and it isn’t certain that there’s a way of doing it which doesn’t render us homeless.”
Arnold added that because United can’t use Wembley as a temporary home — like Tottenham have done this season and Chelsea plan to do in the future — it would mean spreading out the expansion over a few seasons but even that route will have a big impact and may not be possible.
Overall the MD seemed optimistic that Old Trafford would be expanded sometime soon but seemed to be more focused on creating a better atmosphere for United’s home games. The Red Devils trialed a designated signing section in the recent FA Cup win against Brighton, while they have reduced ticket prices for 18-25 year olds and they would also like to install safe-standing areas if it becomes legal to do so in UK stadia.
United’s home stadium is the biggest in the Premier League by some distance but there’s no doubt they could sell close to 90,000 tickets for each game. With Liverpool and Man City expanding in recent years, plus Tottenham almost ready to move into their new home, West Ham having the 60,000 capacity London Stadium and Chelsea ready to expand Stamford Bridge in the coming years, United don’t want to get left behind.