Andy Mitten column

16 March 2010 10:35
Manchester United will be committing commercial suicide if the club attempts to increase its current season ticket prices. While rivals throughout the Premier League have held or even dropped their prices over the last five years, United have increased them every season. My season ticket behind the goal in K-Stand has gone from £22 a game before the Glazer 2005 takeover to £36. That's more than a similar seat at Chelsea, who have pegged prices for three years. Chelsea also reduce every ticket to £25 for FA Cup games. United were the only Premier League club to ask all season ticket holders to pay more for the same seat this season. The Reds also charge extra for Champions League knock-out games and introduced the loathed automatic cup scheme where fans were forced to buy tickets for all cup games. That scheme proved to be so unpopular it was relaxed. United are the best supported team in the world this season but where there was once a waiting list for any season tickets, the continued price rises have diminished demand. Fans have been priced out to the point that we are now seeing empty seats inside Old Trafford for league games for the first time since 1992. The culture of watching the team has also undergone significant changes. A decade ago, many of my friends went to every game, home and away. Selected games Now, most are comfortable picking and choosing matches. A few watch FC United, while more find solace in the many pubs which show virtually every United game live. Aside from any talk of boycotting season tickets for next season, a substantial number of Reds are not planning on renewing for the simple reason that owning one is not as desirable as the club might like to think. Before this season, if you couldn't make a game then there was no shortage of people looking for spare tickets. Now, spares are easy to come by and fans who don't want to use their tickets struggle to sell them on. Also, a major consideration is that while a season ticket once guaranteed you a ticket for a cup final, now it merely increases your chance of one. And then there is the growing protest against the people responsible for the price rises, the Glazers. There should have been rules in place to prevent the takeover ever happening and the Glazers burdening what was consistently the world's most financially successful club with huge debts. The noises from the Red Knight camp about supporter representation to prevent such takeovers in the future and about future ticket prices are positive, though they should be treated with cautious optimism. Many are bankers, after all. And far from petering out, the green and gold protest is growing every week. Buying a scarf from a swagman on the Trafford Road Bridge isn't going to change much, but the protest has shown people that the majority of fans are against the Glazers rather than a tiny minority as claimed by some. If the Glazers think they can go on merrily hiking up prices, they would be guilty of the worst miscalculation since Howard Wilkinson decided to offload a certain maverick French player to Leeds' biggest rivals across the Pennines. What do you think? Have your say.

Source: Manchester_EveningNews