Why Sir Jim Ratcliffe was at Manchester United vs Arsenal and not Women’s FA Cup final

Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe met with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Sunday to discuss the redevelopment of Old Trafford.

Starmer attended United’s Premier League match against Arsenal as a guest of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who is part of the task force looking into options for revitalising United’s home ground. Burnham was also present at the pre-match talks, along with Lord Coe, chair of the Old Trafford Regeneration Task Force.

The task force, which includes ex-United captain Gary Neville, had its inaugural meeting last month, with Ratcliffe aiming to create a world-class stadium either by redeveloping Old Trafford or building a new one on adjacent land owned by the club. The stadium is the centrepiece of the project, which aims to regenerate the wider Trafford Park area.

The Press Association reports that the discussions with Arsenal supporter Starmer were part of ongoing engagement with political leaders at local, regional and national levels as the project’s options are explored. With the cost of redeveloping the existing site estimated at around £1bn and constructing a new stadium requiring an outlay of £2bn, the task force will also look into financing options for the project.

Ratcliffe received criticism on Sunday after he chose to attend the game at Old Trafford instead of watching the women’s team beat Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup final. Ella Toone, Rachel Williams and a Lucia Garcia brace secured a comfortable 4-0 victory over Spurs.

INEOS took control of both the men’s and women’s team earlier this year with Ratcliffe meeting members from both squads at Carrington soon after the announcement was made. Instead of being at Wembley, Ratcliffe witnessed United lose 1-0 to Arsenal after Leandro Trossard scored in the first half.

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