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Manchester United face reduced income following floods at Old Trafford

Manchester United’s 1-0 defeat to Arsenal on Sunday was the least of his worries as pictures of Old Trafford’s leaking changing rooms and flooded stands circulated the internet. But how did this historic stadium end up in such a state of disrepair and where does it go from here? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s wrong with Old Trafford?

Old Trafford Stadium, home to Manchester United, is well known for being the UK’s largest club football stadium by capacity and a historic building that has been around for over a century. It persevered through thick and thin, including multiple bombings during World War II. And yet it is now defeated by a leaking roof.

It’s no secret that Old Trafford has not seen significant upgrades for the better part of two decades, with problems repeatedly noted but continually passed over as too expensive to fix. Unfortunately, these cuts from the past have come back to haunt the club today. We’ve seen some shocking photos spread after heavy rain in Manchester on Sunday night – the changing rooms are leaking and a veritable waterfall has erupted from the over-saturated drainage system above the stands.

It is clear to everyone that something needs to be done about Old Trafford. But what?

What can be done about it?

When it comes down to it, there are three options for Manchester United and its owners to choose from:

Renovate

The most obvious course of action is to simply fix the problems. The stadium needs a lot of renovation work, and not just for those leaky roofs. Old Trafford is outdated compared to the stadiums other UK clubs call home. In theory, this would also be the cheapest option, since you’re not building from scratch or buying anything new. However, it could be extremely inconvenient during the works, not to mention disruptive to the wider Manchester community.

Motion

Of course, Manchester United could move at any time. It is an option for the club to abandon Old Trafford altogether and find a new home elsewhere. This idea has been tossed around, but it seems unlikely to happen. Old Trafford is a historic stadium and a big part of the club’s history; it could further damage the club to pack it up and leave it. Not to mention how expensive it would be. It could cost even more than building a new stadium from scratch. Speaking of which…

Rebuild

The third option is reconstruction. There was talk of taking the same location and rebuilding the stadium from the ground up. This is certainly the preferred option of Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who secured his position as co-owner of the club earlier this year. He mentioned ambitions to redevelop Old Trafford into a “Wembley of the North”. The sky’s the limit on how expensive this could be and the time involved is also an issue, but – if Ratcliffe can find the money – it could be the best long-term option.

Manchester United are facing huge cuts in revenue

Whichever option the club settles on, Manchester United will have to find somewhere else to play in the meantime. If Old Trafford continues to deteriorate, United will need a temporary home ground in time for next season.

I’ve seen a lot of stadiums considered for that title, but there aren’t many options in the area. At least not for a team with a following the size of Manchester United (though after this abysmal season, who knows what the future holds).

Amidst all the speculation, it appears the club may have to move to a much smaller stadium than they currently enjoy, halving Old Trafford’s capacity or less. That’s certainly one solution, but it would lead to the club taking a huge cut of matchday revenue – and as they look at an expensive stadium rebuild, a drop in profits is the last thing they need.

What is the future for the Theater of Dreams?

Only time will tell where Old Trafford ends up. In a few years we could be looking at a shiny new stadium that lives up to what Ratcliffe is hoping for. Or it could get much, much worse if management continues to ignore these glaring problems.

However, for the foreseeable future you should only go to Old Trafford alone if you’re prepared to take a shower while you’re there. As for Manchester United, they are set to face Manchester City in the FA Cup Final on Saturday, May 25.