Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Man Utd ‘should pursue public money’ for new stadium

Sir Jim Ratcliffe outside Old Trafford.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe may be one of the UK’s richest men, but Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the public purse should be used to redevelop Old Trafford and the surrounding area.

INEOS chief Ratcliffe paid the Glazer family £1.3 billion for a 27.7 per cent stake in United, one that will give him ‘sporting control’ at the club.

Part of his remit will be to improve the club’s fortunes off the field as much as on it. United may be without a Premier League title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last in 2013, but Old Trafford is visibly crumbling.

Ratcliffe has deep pockets – in 2018 he was named as the UK’s richest man with a net worth of £21.05bn – but Labour politician Burnham, who identifies as a socialist, thinks the tax man should help with the regeneration project.

“This ground is fairly unique in having a train station that is almost part of the fabric of the ground,” he explained to The Telegraph’s James Ducker of the Old Trafford Halt adjacent to the Sir Bobby Charlton South Stand.

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Train station justification

“A train station that is not being used at the moment because it’s not designed in the right way. That itself says if you were to refurbish the stand as part of that approach, you would have to do something to move that station and that would require public money.

“It is too much of a narrow debate to say how much has the club got and who is paying for the stadium. It is much bigger than that and I think you need to see it in that way otherwise people won’t understand what is at stake here.”

Burnham hopes to see a rejuvenation in Manchester – one of only two cities in Europe with two Champions League winners in it, Milan being the other – that would match the impact the 2012 Olympic Games had on East London.

“No other city in the world would be set up in terms of its football infrastructure to Manchester. No one would come close,” he said.

The red half of Manchester would no doubt love to catch up with the light blue, but having to pay for it when Ratcliffe, and indeed the Glazer family, are still involved, could be a tough pill to swallow, train station or not.

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