Manchester City’s new owners have opened talks with Manchester Ciy Council with a view to buying the City of Manchester Stadium and turning surrounding wastelands into a hotel and leisure complex.
The move would also see City’s training ground moved from its current Carrington base as well as the Platt Lane academy training centre, with both being housed on the new development.
New City owner, Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al Nayhan, is reportedly ready to pay the £50million it would take to buy the ground from the council with a long-term vision of expanding the stadium’s capacity to around 70,000.
The club currently pay £2m a year to lease the ground and Sheik Mansour believes he would have difficulty expanding the stadium should it still be owned by the council.
But plans may face some opposition.
As well as convincing the council, the club’s owners will also have to convince Sport England the plan is worthwhile as it was that organisation which made the largest and most decisive financial contribution to the building of the stadium ahead of the 2002 Commonwealth Games.
The Sheik’s chairman at City, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, has already met Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, and although the politician did not dismiss the plans out of hand, he did make the City party aware that the local authority does not - as a rule - sell off public land.
Sir Richard told the Daily Mail prior to meeting Khaldoon: "I am looking forward to meeting representatives of the new owners of the club to discuss exciting proposals not just for Manchester City but also for the whole of East Manchester."
City have the City of Manchester Stadium on a 250-year lease but the present arrangement means the local council takes a 50 per cent cut of all match-day gate revenue above and beyond 34,000 - the capacity of the old Maine Road ground.