Manchester United: Gary Neville part of Old Trafford regeneration task force headed up by Sebastian Coe

Manchester United announce task force to explore the regeneration of Old Trafford with aim of developing a ‘world-class stadium’; Sebastian Coe, who chaired the organising committee for the London 2012 Olympics, spearheads project which also includes former Man Utd defender Gary Neville

Ex-Manchester United defender Gary Neville is part of a task force that will explore the regeneration of Old Trafford, with Sebastian Coe heading up the project which aims to develop a “world-class football stadium”.

Coe, the former head of the organising committee for the 2012 London Olympics, will chair the ‘Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force’ which also comprises Sky Sports pundit Neville, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, and the chief executive of Trafford Council, Sara Todd.

The project comes after Man Utd’s new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe outlined his plans last month to either redevelop Old Trafford or build a new stadium that could host England matches, FA Cup finals and Champions League finals.

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A statement from the task force said: “A joint task force has been created to explore options for regenerating the Old Trafford area of Greater Manchester, with the development of a world-class football stadium at the heart of the project.

“The ‘Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force’ will bring together local leaders and national experts to examine how stadium development can support renewal of an area of the city with rich industrial history and huge potential for the future, and deliver social and economic benefits for the entire region.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe has outlined his plans for Manchester United’s future after his minority stake in the club was finally ratified on Tuesday, explaining how Old Trafford may need to be rebuilt to be fit for purpose

“Chaired by Lord Sebastian Coe, the task force will assess the feasibility of a new stadium of national significance equipped to host international games and finals, as well as providing a modernised home for Manchester United.

“Working in synergy with Trafford Council’s Trafford Wharfside Framework, the project aims to support revitalisation of the area between Trafford Park and the banks of Salford Quays, and support the ‘levelling up’ agenda to drive investment in the north of England. It would also reduce the over-concentration of major sporting venues and events in London and the south-east.”

Neville: Old Trafford area has been neglected for too long

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Speaking on his podcast in November Gary Neville called on Manchester United’s new owners to make improving Old Trafford one of their top priorities

Ratcliffe has put together a 10-strong task force to examine the possibility of redeveloping the existing stadium or building a new ground, with former Manchester United captain Neville part of the panel.

The 49-year-old said: “I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the privilege of playing hundreds of games at Old Trafford, and no one can take away those amazing memories.

“But Old Trafford has evolved throughout its history and it’s clear we are at a point where it has to change again to ensure that Manchester United has a world-class stadium befitting the world’s greatest club.

“While I want the best for Manchester United, I also want the same for the surrounding community. Old Trafford should be a stadium that the whole of Greater Manchester can take pride in, and be a catalyst for sustainable, cohesive growth in an area of the city that has been neglected for too long.”

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United We Stand editor Andy Mitten says Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium needs significant remodelling and development

United have played at the 74,310-capacity Old Trafford since 1910 and Ratcliffe is hoping to build a ‘national stadium in the north’.

Lord Coe said: “Throughout my career in sport, I have seen the potential for stadiums to become focal points for strong communities and catalysts for social and economic development. That was certainly true of the venues we built in east
London for the 2012 Olympics, and we are overdue a project of similar scale and ambition in the north of England.

“I am honoured to have this opportunity to share my experience in support of this tremendously exciting project.”

British billionaire Ratcliffe, who by the end of the year will hold a 28.9 per cent stake in United and whose INEOS company now controls football operations at Old Trafford, has supported Manchester United since the age of six.

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The 71-year-old said: “This can be a major regeneration project for an area of Greater Manchester which has played such a key role in British industrial history, but which today requires new investment to thrive again.

“The north-west of England has a greater concentration of major football clubs than anywhere else in the world, yet we don’t have a stadium on the scale of Wembley, the Nou Camp or Bernabeu.

“We will not be able to change that on our own, which is why this task force is so important to help us seize this once in-a-century opportunity.”

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