Man Utd consider second stadium for women’s team and academy under plans to modernise Old Trafford – The Telegraph

Manchester United could build a second stadium for their women’s team and academy as part of plans to modernise and potentially expand Old Trafford, Telegraph Sport understands.

Although Old Trafford is the largest club stadium in the UK, the Glazer family have been criticised by fans for neglecting the ground at a time when many of their rivals have redeveloped their stadiums or moved into state-of-the-art new homes.

But moves are now underway to give Old Trafford the transformative makeover supporters have been waiting for and that could yet extend to include the creation on the same site of a much smaller new stadium where the women’s team and academy sides could play matches.

At present, the women’s team and men’s Under-23 side play the majority of their games at Leigh Sports Village, with some held at Old Trafford. The Under-18s play home matches at United’s Carrington training base. 

There are no guarantees at this stage that such a project would get the go-ahead but it is thought to be one of the proposals that have been floated during the tender process. United have held meetings with five architectural and engineering companies and are expected to settle on a preferred master planner in the new year.

Collette Roche, United’s chief operating officer, said the meetings had produced “exciting potential ideas” and that the club had “an open mind about the best approach and scope of work”.

It is thought that United have been presented with plans to increase the capacity of Old Trafford’s South Stand, including the options of going up and over the top of the adjacent railway line, which is no longer considered a major obstacle to expansion given advancements in technology.

Although no formal decisions have been taken and it is still early in the process, the club is believed to be looking at a sensible uplift from Old Trafford’s current capacity of 74,140. It is likely any upgrade would see a capacity of at least 80,000. 

Tottenham used Wembley Stadium as a temporary home while their new stadium was built but, without access to such a venue, Roche said the intention was for a “phased build” to allow the first team to continue playing at Old Trafford.

A master planner has already been chosen to oversee what sources have described as a “fundamental redevelopment” of United’s Carrington training base to create a “fully integrated, three group facility” for the men’s, women’s and academy teams.

United have already spent around £5 million making various upgrades to the training base but the appointment of master planners will lead to a fundamental redevelopment of the existing site.

The women’s team moved to Carrington during the pandemic but, given the need for them, the first team and academy to operate in separate bubbles under protocols, that has led to a variety of logistical issues, including their inability to share facilities with the men’s and academy teams. “Our goal is a fully integrated, three group facility and we are scoping out plans,” Roche said.

‘Respect’ for Solskjaer delayed hunt for successor

Meanwhile, John Murtough, United’s football director, admitted that the past few months – and the eight years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired – had been a “turbulent” time for the club.

But he said the recruitment of a new permanent manager to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was sacked last month following a 4-1 defeat at Watford, would be done in a “careful and considered fashion”. Ralf Rangnick is currently in temporary charge until the end of the season.

“Out of respect for Ole we did not approach other managers before he left,” Murtough said. “Our plan then was to appoint an experienced interim manager. Ralf was our clear first choice. He’s someone I have admired for a long time, we’re delighted he’s here.

“By bringing in Ralf we can now take time to run a thorough process for our next permanent manager. Recruiting a manager is one of the most important decisions a football club makes so we want to do it in a careful and considered fashion.”

Discussing the decision to sack Solskjaer, Murtough added: “As a club we felt Ole had earned the right to be given the chance to turn things round, but didn’t get a reaction after the international break. The Watford game made it clear change was needed.

“We’re all disappointed at Ole’s departure but he deserves to be judged on his record over the past three years not his last few weeks. He secured our first back-to-back top-three finishes since Sir Alex retired and was close to winning silverware. He re-set the club’s culture.”

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