Home Estate Planning Ratcliffe should forget Levelling Up funds for Manchester United, says Tracey Crouch MP

Ratcliffe should forget Levelling Up funds for Manchester United, says Tracey Crouch MP

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe should not expect to receive any public funds towards a proposed redevelopment of Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium, says Tracey Crouch MP.

The billionaire Ineos owner, who has a 25 per cent stake in the club, is considering lobbying the UK Government to contribute under its Levelling Up pledges, according to reports.

Ratcliffe wants Old Trafford to become a “Wembley of the North” as part of a drastic overhaul that could cost the club as much as £2bn, according to the Telegraph.

But Crouch, the former sports minister whose recommendations have led to plans for an independent football regulator, opposes United receiving a handout.

“Sir Jim Ratcliffe knew what he was taking on when he bought into Manchester United,” Crouch told City A.M.

“Old Trafford may need upgrading to meet today’s standards, but funding should not come out of the taxpayer’s pocket to benefit the billionaires who own the club – especially as other clubs like Bury have faced ruin, devastating the town around them, with no bailout from the public purse.”

Ratcliffe, who is estimated to be worth more than £15bn, pledged £237m towards improving United’s infrastructure, including Old Trafford, when he agreed to buy a minority stake. 

But it is likely to cost far more to improve the dilapidated ground, with estimates ranging from £800m for a refurbishment and expansion to £2bn for a total rebuild.

Talks have already taken place between Ratcliffe and Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester as well as other local councillors and civic officials, reports said.

Tracey Crouch MP believes Ratcliffe and Manchester United should not get Levelling Up funding for Old Trafford

Old Trafford currently has a capacity of 74,000, making it the second largest football stadium in England, albeit with 16,000 fewer seats than Wembley.

A redevelopment and expansion to include a sport and entertainment complex could create jobs and boost the local economy – an argument that could be used for public funding.

But Ratcliffe’s vast wealth – and the multi-billion-dollar fortunes of United’s majority owners, the Glazer family – would make it difficult for the Treasury to justify a handout.

Despite a decline in on-field results, United remain among the world’s top five richest clubs, according to Deloitte’s latest Football Money League, with revenues of £650m.

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