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BREAKING: Sir Jim Ratcliffe told to demolish Old Trafford and build a new stadium

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Populous, the architectural firm overseeing Manchester United’s redevelopment, has suggested the possibility of demolishing the iconic Theatre of Dreams, a new Telegraph Sport report reveals.

According to the report, the architects have advised both Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the Glazer family to consider replacing the aging Old Trafford with a new, innovative stadium.

This advice comes amidst ongoing delays in the strategic review process by the Glazers, which has put redevelopment plans on hold for over a year.

Ratcliffe, who recently acquired a 25% stake in Manchester United and assumed full control of football operations, has committed an initial £237 million for infrastructural improvements at Old Trafford. This is in addition to the £1.03 billion deal announced last Christmas Eve.

Sources close to Ratcliffe, speaking to Telegraph Sport, emphasised the need for a detailed examination of Old Trafford’s requirements. They acknowledged that the future would demand significantly more investment in the stadium.

Populous, together with Legends International, a management consultancy firm, was appointed last April to develop a masterplan for the stadium.

Currently, three options are under consideration: a minor refurbishment, an expansion of the south stand over the adjacent railway, or building a completely new stadium.

Chris Lee, CEO of Populous, expressed the club’s awareness of the necessity for updates. He highlighted that Old Trafford is approaching the end of its lifespan, with essential elements nearing their expiration. According to Lee, the club risks falling behind its rivals without these crucial updates.

In an interview with Telegraph Sport, Lee stated his preference for building a new stadium, citing it as potentially the most cost-effective long-term solution. He noted that while the initial investment is substantial, the availability of surrounding land offers an opportunity for an innovative architectural project without space constraints.

He elaborated that Manchester United could continue to use their current stadium during construction, avoiding any loss in matchday revenue.

Last season, the club earned £136.4 million in matchday income, equivalent to £4.1 million per game.

The refurbishment and expansion of Old Trafford as it stands are estimated to cost over £800 million and take eight years. In contrast, a new stadium could cost around £2 billion.

The deteriorating state of Old Trafford, exemplified by a leaking roof and rusting exterior, has been a point of criticism and mockery from rival fans.

Lee emphasised that leaving Old Trafford as is would be unwise, noting that the building’s infrastructure is nearing the end of its usable life.

Populous has been awaiting the next steps in the process, which have been delayed due to the strategic review and sale process. Lee expressed confidence in the robustness of the plans they have presented.

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