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Manchester United considering options to redevelop Old Trafford

The 112-year-old Theatre of Dreams could be knocked down and rebuilt

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Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United is weighing its options to revamp its world-renowned stadium, Old Trafford, in attempt to modernize it and raise it to the standards of other Premier League grounds.

According to a report from The Telegraph on Monday evening, United is nearing an agreement to hire preferred partners for what would be the biggest redevelopment project in the club’s history. United completed a tender process that asked bidders to to submit three different design proposals for the stadium.

The first of the three options to renovate the stadium is to demolish the current 112-year-old, 74,140-seat Old Trafford—England’s largest club stadium—and rebuild a modern stadium in its place. This project would include a new stadium that rivals Wembley Stadium’s 90,000-seat capacity, as well as a smaller ground for United’s women’s team and academy.

The project would likely take two-to-three years to complete, as seen with the construction of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

If the Glazer family—the owners of Manchester United—goes ahead with this proposal, it is unlikely that United would be able to find another ground in the north west of England to play its matches in while the construction of the new stadium is underway.

Sharing a stadium with another club, such as Manchester City, Liverpool, or Everton, would lead to problems with match schedules and match day revenue, amongst other issues.

Despite the issues an entire rebuild could potentially cause, United is prepared to consider each of the three options.

The second option is expanding Old Trafford’s South Stand, known within in the ground as the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand, above the train tracks directly behind it. This would increase the stadium’s capacity to over 80,000 people, and it would include an overhaul of the rest of the ground.

The third option is to renovate the entire existing stadium and club’s corporate hospitality. This would not include an expansion of the South Stand, however.

A revamp such as this would likely be welcomed by fans, many of which have expressed their frustrations with club executives about Old Trafford’s current poor state. A common complaint is that water leaks through the roof into the seating sections of the stadium.

The club would be able to plan a phased rebuild that would allow matches to continue to be played at Old Trafford whilst construction is completed if it chooses to go ahead with options two or three. However, the price of the rebuild of the South Stand would drastically increase whilst still allowing fans to sit there on match day.

Chief operating officer Collette Roche said last month to the club’s fans’ forum that United would appoint a preferred partner “in the coming weeks.”

“Following this, we will be able to formally kick-off Phase 1 of the project, which will be focused on establishing the vision and objectives of the masterplan,” Roche said.

The club will then weigh the pros and cons of each option once a bidder is decided upon before choosing which way to renovate Old Trafford.

In the meantime, United is working with the architecture company KSS Group to redevelop Carrington training facility as well. KSS is the same group responsible for Liverpool’s AXA Training Centre, Tottenham’s Hotspur Way training facility, and Leicester City’s LCFC Training Ground.