LONDON: Sir Alex Fergusons Theatre of Dreams could be filled by audiences of up to 75,000 people under draft plans unveiled by Manchester United on Friday.
In a statement to the stock exchange, the club said they were considering plans for a substantial redevelopment of their Old Trafford stadium which would increase the capacity by 7,500 from the current 67,500.
The plan, which is only at the feasibility study stage, involves filling in the gaps which currently exist at either end of the north stand, which runs the length of the pitch on the opposite side from the managers dugouts.
Uniteds announcement will inevitably be seen as having been triggered by Arsenals recently finalised plans to move to a new 60,000-capacity stadium in time for the start of the 2005-06 season.
Although Uniteds capacity will remain higher, Arsenal are expected to overtake their rivals in terms of gate receipts because of higher ticket prices in London.
In deciding whether to proceed with the stadium expansion, United will have to consider the potential impact on the pitch, which already has to be re-laid several times a season because of the changes to the amount of light and wind reaching the grass following previous expansion.
The United statement said: A feasibility study is under way to evaluate the technical, financial and planning issues on completing the North East and North West Quadrants of the stadium and consultation on these issues will now commence, Uniteds statement said.
Any decision to proceed will be taken by the board in due course and announced thereafter. AFP