IT IS not quite the glamour signing that supporters crave, but Manchester United have dipped into their coffers and splashed the cash – on acquiring land around Old Trafford.
The club have paid £8.2m for a one-acre site directly opposite the stadium, an estate of seven industrial units and a 177,000 sq ft warehouse. All were bought from investment and development company SEGRO, which is landlord to 110 businesses in the nearby Trafford Park industrial estate.
United’s move raises the possibility that they could consider redeveloping their 76,000-seater home, which is already the biggest capacity club ground in Britain. However a club spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to use their newly-acquired land.
“The stadium is an iconic asset for the club and we feel it is beneficial to invest in the surrounding area,” said a spokesperson. “If more land becomes available we will assess whether it suits our purposes.”
United chief operating officer Michael Bolingbroke added: “We are delighted to have completed these purchases from SEGRO to further consolidate our ownership of land and buildings around the stadium.”
United also addressed on-field matters yesterday when they confirmed midfielder Tom Cleverley has signed a new four-year contract.
Cleverley, 22, has completed his graduation through the ranks this season, following several loan spells, and broken into Fabio Capello’s England squad.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed the youngster as “one of the brightest prospects in the English game”, adding: “Tom has grabbed his chance with both hands.”
Cleverley, who spent last season on loan at Wigan, injured ligaments in his foot last month but is expected to be back in contention for Saturday’s trip to Liverpool.