It has been 15 years since Old Trafford was expanded and surely we are not the only ones with observation skills to see that the stadium is rotting before our very eyes.
However, a week after the European Super League failure and backlash, the club now insist they are ‘open’ to expanding Old Trafford but at the moment there are no plans to do so.
The north-west and north-east quadrants were installed in March 2006, taking the capacity to around 76,000, but it has been left idle ever since.
Once upon a time, Manchester United would make sure they had the best stadium, training ground, website – pretty much everything was handled with a degree of pride. But under the Glazers, it’s a careless operation in the name of greed.
For instance, the roof of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand at Old Trafford has a leak. Fans complained about a waterfall gushing down from the Stretford End roof prior to the derby in April 2019. And ultimately, we can’t imagine there will be improvements when we return.
United held a fans’ forum on April 16, when a United fan asked (quotes via Manchester Evening News): “As there have been no fans in attendance for over 12 months now has the opportunity been taken to make any significant alternations or improvements to the stadium during this period either externally or internally.
“What are the club’s plans for renovating the stadium and increasing capacity? It is looking tired in comparison with other stadia, for example, Tottenham’s new ground.”
It’s an absolute disgrace that the club have left it this long, and their response suggests that no work whatsoever has been done on future plans. They’re only telling us that they are open to the idea — nothing more.
Collette Roche, United’s chief operating officer, said: “Since 2005, over £100m has been invested in the stadium, including the £20m investment last season. We’re looking at an investment plan while maintaining what makes Old Trafford special.
“Part of the allure of Old Trafford is the fact that it’s a stadium that was built in 1910. Our vision is to rejuvenate the stadium but keep it feeling like it is Old Trafford. That’s the perfect solution for us.
“There are no plans currently to increase capacity significantly, but we would not rule it out completely in long-term. There are ongoing work streams to review opportunities to slightly increase the capacity in a number of locations; however this work is on hold until we can access the stadium properly again.
“It is worth noting a few specifics: The £11m upgrade to our disabled facilities is completed. These will be state-of-the-art and among best in Europe. Once fans are back at Old Trafford we can test these facilities and then officially open them.
“We remain committed to installing barrier seating in the north-east quadrant and, while work has been on hold due to the pandemic, we plan to commence installation in the summer. We will be working with Trafford Council to discuss and finalise the specific conditions and hope to have the barrier seating section operational once we are back to full capacity.
“Resources have been invested into ensuring that the stadium is COVID-secure. This has involved upgrades to our ticketing and access control systems, new signage, and hygiene regimes to ensure that the fans’ experience at the stadium is safe.
“As always, we are carrying out our annual stadium maintenance programme which involves painting and lighting upgrades to ensure that the stadium is in good shape for the return of our fans.”