Why Manchester United must develop Old Trafford, not overthrow it and start over – The Athletic


“We didn’t leave the easier pit until the end,” said Richard Arnold.

“The South Stand – the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand – is the last unexpanded stand at Old Trafford. It is sandwiched in a fairly narrow strip of land between the ground and the main railway line from Manchester to Liverpool. There isn’t a lot of space on either side of the stand, which means it’s a complex engineering challenge.

“It would be a multi-season challenge, and it’s not clear there’s a way to do it that doesn’t make us homeless.”

Arnold stressed that this was a big deal for United given that they have the biggest fan base in the country and “we are not in London, where we could use Wembley. We don’t want to give up the home advantage we have here – and that’s before you start wondering how big the expanded stadium should be.”

Now CEO of United, Arnold was talking to me in his office in 2018. I asked him: “So the idea is to build another tier above the South Stand rather than a new stadium, for example? “

He nodded, but there was a caveat.

“Personally, I think that one day it will happen. A new level is very likely, but we haven’t finalized plans. Even if we knew today what the plan would be, it takes three to five years to be able to start and another period of years to deliver. We are constantly working on the plans and this has been going on for several years. Things are also changing around us, security requirements for example.

Arnold also spoke about the club’s support for safe stance as well as optimal security. He was on the phone at 2am the day after the 2015 Paris attacks to make sure Old Trafford was as safe as possible.

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