Club: Manchester United FC | Opening: 1910 | Capacity: 75,811 seats
History and description
In the first decade of the 20th century, Manchester United played their home matches at a 50,000-stadium at Bank Street, when then president Davies began planning for a new stadium with double that capacity. A site was chosen near Trafford Park industrial estate, and architect Archibald Leitch was appointed to design the stadium.
Old Trafford officially opened on 19 February 1910 with a match between Manchester and Liverpool (3-4). The stadium at that time consisted of one covered seating stand and open terraces on the other three sides. Capacity was slightly over 80,000.
Few changes were made to the stadium until the construction of a roof over the United Road terrace in 1934.
In 1939, Old Trafford recorded its highest attendance of 76,962 during an FA Cup semi-final match between Wolves and Grimsby Town.
Due to its proximity to Trafford Park industrial estate, Old Trafford got heavily damaged by German air raids during World War 2. It took eight years to rebuilt the stadium, the delays being caused by limited post-war resources, and during that time United played at Maine Road, the ground of rivals Manchester City.
In 1949, Man United moved back to a reconstructed, though smaller, Old Trafford. Incremental improvements and expansions were made in the following decades, which culminated in the complete renovation of the United Road (North) Stand in the 1960s. This stand also held the first private boxes to be constructed at a British ground.
Old Trafford was one of the playing venues of the 1966 World Cup, during which it hosted three group matches. In those years, the capacity of the stadium fluctuated around 60,000.
Old Trafford got gradually further improved in the 1970s and 1980s, including new and better cover, increased seating areas, and improved executive facilities. At the same time, however, the rise of hooliganism also resulted in the installation of security fences separating the stands from the pitch.
In the early 1990s, plans were made to convert the stadium into an all-seater. This involved the demolition and replacement of the famous Stretford End terraces and the placement of seats in the lower-tiers of the other stands.
Old Trafford got selected to be one of the playing venues of the 1996 European Championships, and as a result a new North Stand opened in 1995. By the start of Euro 1996 the stadium could hold about 56,000 fans.
During the Euro 1996 tournament, Old Trafford hosted three group matches, a quarter-final, and the semi-final between the Czech Republic and France (0-0).
In the years following, second tiers were added to the East and West Stand, raising capacity to 68,000 seats.
In 2006, the stadium reached its current capacity when stands got built in the upper-tier corners on both sides of the North Stand.
Old Trafford hosted its only European final in 2003, when the Champions League final between Milan and Juventus (0-0) was played at the stadium.
In 2011, the stadium’s North Stand got renamed Sir Alex Ferguson Stand in honour of the club’s long-time manager.
Old Trafford’s South Stand remains the only two-tiered stand of the stadium, but expansion possibilities are limited due to the railway line that runs behind the stand. While Man United has indicated that a further expansion to 95,000 seats remains a possibility, no concrete plans exist at the moment.