Inside first Old Trafford task force meeting that could kickstart £2bn rebuild for Man United

Seb Coe
Lord Coe is the chair of the task force. -Credit:Manchester United

The Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham described the first Old Trafford task force meeting as 'introductory' and reiterated the decision is in Manchester United's hands.

It was announced last month that a task force to regenerate Old Trafford and the land around it had been created, and that it would be chaired by Lord Sebastian Coe.

Former United captain Gary Neville was appointed to the panel, along with Manchester Mayor Burnham and Sara Todd, chief executive of Trafford Council. The panel was created to explore all options but to closely examine the feasibility of a new building and wider regeneration.

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On record, Sir Jim Ratcliffe has said it's his preference to build a new Old Trafford, to create a 'Wembley of the north' and a 'stadium that's befitting the club and the brand'. Estimated costs for that have been put at £2billion.

Lord Coe chaired the inaugural task force meeting on Monday and among the attendees was Collette Roche, who is United's chief operating officer, and it's understood senior club representatives will work hand-in-hand with the task force and be part of its meetings.

Burnham was asked by the Manchester Evening News what happened in the inaugural task force meeting and said: "It was an introductory meeting. We were all getting to know each other, although most of us knew each other already, but just scoping out what we could do.

"Obviously our role is to facilitate the club's decision. We're there to help with the information, evidence, perspective, sometimes adding broader perspective that sometimes the club aren't aware of.

"So it was very high-level introductory, but it was really good that Lord Coe was there. I think that's a really big statement of not just the club's ambition but Greater Manchester's ambition to have someone of his stature [involved] who delivered the London Olympics.

"And I think that sends a message that this is more than building a stadium, which is a really important message to get over. This is potentially one of the biggest regeneration projects that the north of England will see in this century actually, it's that significant."

Ratcliffe has a preference for rebuilding Old Trafford. -Credit:PA
Ratcliffe has a preference for rebuilding Old Trafford. -Credit:PA

When asked how often the task force will meet, Burnham said: "The aim is to move with the pace. I don't think anyone wants to hang around. Clearly it's in the hands of the club, our aim is to help facilitate their decision whenever they want to make it and as quickly as they want to make it, but it's complex.

"If I just talk from perspective, in terms of my direct responsibilities, there are transport implications either with a refurbished stadium or a new stadium, so there are significant things to work out.

"There are transport opportunities because we have a freight terminal right behind Old Trafford and the freight that comes into that terminal passes through the Castlefield corridor and it is actually a bone of contention for one degree or another because it mingles in with the passenger trains and contributes to the congestion on the Castefield corridor, so there's a big issue there but potentially a big opportunity to separate that freight traffic out from the passenger traffic.

"So that's obviously why I said at the start, people need to see this than more than a stadium really, there are potential benefits to Greater Manchester from a societal, community and economic point of view but also transport and mobility."

Since the initial announcement of the task force, an extra four members, Tom Bloxham, Dan Jones, Tim Newns and Victoria Braddock, have been added.

The 14 members of the Old Trafford task force:

  • Seb Coe, Chair

  • Anna Bensky, Director of Major Projects at Peel Land and Property

  • Tom Bloxham, Chairman of Urban Splash

  • Eamonn Boylan, CEO of Greater Manchester Combined Authority

  • Victoria Braddock, Managing Director of Marketing Manchester

  • Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

  • Duncan Drasdo, CEO of Manchester United Supporters’ Trust

  • Dan Jones, former Head of Sports Business at Deloitte

  • Gary Neville, former captain of Manchester United

  • Tim Newns, Managing Director for Levelling Up at the UK Office for Investment

  • Malcolm Press, Vice-Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University

  • Tom Ross, Leader of Trafford Council

  • Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester

  • Sara Todd, CEO of Trafford Council