Football: United to add 12,000 seats at Old Trafford

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The Independent Online
AMID THE controversy surrounding BSkyB's attempt to buy Manchester United, the club announced yesterday they are to expand Old Trafford's capacity, taking it from the current 55,300 to 67,400.

The scheme, which will cost pounds 30m and will go ahead even if BSkyB's bid fails, will be completed by 2001 and make Old Trafford the biggest club ground in Britain. Celtic Park in Glasgow is currently the largest with 60,000 seats.

Plans have been submitted to Trafford Council and if permission is given work will begin on adding tiers to the current Stretford End and Scoreboard End Stands next summer. This follows the opening of the new triple-tiered North Stand, which cost pounds 27m, in 1995-96.

The plan will alleviate United's chronic problem of supply and demand. There are 120,000 members fighting over 12,000 tickets for every home game after 40,000 season ticket holders and 3,000 visiting supporters have been accommodated. In FA Cup ties, where opposition fans get a greater share, the problem is exacerbated.

The proposed scheme was greeted guardedly by fans. "I'd welcome the increased capacity if the club said a portion of it would be made available for open sale," Lee Hodgkiss of the Independent Supporters' association, said. "The true local fans would get a chance to watch matches."