Manchester United are exploring the possibility of expanding Old Trafford’s capacity to 88,000 in the coming years, according to the Daily Mail.
With a current capacity of 75,643, a new disabled section in England’s largest club stadium, set to be completed by 2020, will decrease the number of seats to 73,300.
Officials are, therefore, seriously considering ways to expand the capacity by extending the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand (South Stand) by 12,000 seats.
Currently the ninth largest stadium in European football, the move from Man United would see the club’s home become the third largest stadium in the continent. Only Wembley and FC Barcelona’s Camp Nou would be larger.
The stand in question hasn’t been possible to expand for some time due to the railway line and houses behind it. However, with technological advances, it may now be possible to avoid these complications and add 7,500 more seats. With the addition of two quadrants, the total number of added seats would be 12,000.
Within these discussions, United fan groups continue to push for the introduction of a safe-standing area and the club are supportive of a move to safe-standing.
Officials from United visited Celtic’s stadium in Scotland to view their safe-standing section. However, a legislation change would be required for this to happen.
The atmosphere at Old Trafford has vastly worsened in the last two decades. Old Trafford hasn’t been ‘updated’, other than the renaming of the South Stand and North Stand to the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand and Sir Alex Ferguson Stand respectively, for more than 10 years.
Thankfully, officials are realising the need for United to move forward. Standing still over the last decade has been the same as moving backwards, with Arsenal moving into a new stadium (The Emirates), Manchester City continuing to improve the Etihad Stadium, Chelsea set for a stadium move away from Stamford Bridge and Tottenham Hotspur knocking down White Hart Lane for a new home.
United’s previously huge 75,000 capacity now looks less so, and as the biggest club in world football, only challenged by Real Madrid, the club must look to improve the stadium. This is one way, and a good one.