Tag Ticket prices

Tag Ticket prices

The campaign for a teen-only section at Old Trafford

Ed January 16, 2014 Tags: , Shorts 12 comments
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Over the past two decades the average age of supporters inside Old Trafford has been on a steady incline. The price of tickets, and the ever ‘ageing’ population of season ticket holders, has served to generate a changing demographic of match-going Manchester United supporters. Indeed, surveys conducted by the Premier League suggest that the average age an adult match-goer is 41 across the country. United is no different.

Increasing price increases mean that teenagers now struggle to attend matches as they have in the past, whether this as part of a group or with the family. This pattern has a negative impact on the development of United’s next generation of Reds, and reduces the matchday atmosphere, which is often more lively when younger fans are encouraged to attend.

It’s a challenge that could impact on United’s commercial business too. After all, young audiences are keenly sought by major global brands, and United could well alienate a key demographic, negatively impacting the club’s strategy. This is a rare area where supporters’ needs and commercial reality are very well aligned.

Yet, there are measures that can be taken – and some clubs are ahead of the curve in realising the long-term risk of disenfranchising the young. United Rant, in collaboration with Republik of Mancunia and other fans groups, is calling on United to introduce an area at Old Trafford which is designated for teenagers only. We believe that ticket price for this area should be considerably lower than the rest of the ground to encourage take-up.

It’s an initiative that can offer only upside for fans and the club – as rivals have found out. Arsenal have introduced a similar area for 1,000 teenagers this season, albeit for specific matches, at a cost to the club of just £400,000 in annual revenues. Tickets in this section cost no more than £10. Other clubs, such as Fulham and West Ham United, offer a ‘kids for a quid’ scheme. Even Manchester City regularly sell League Cup tickets for £5 to teenagers.

The average age of residents at Rant towers may also be on the increase, but we remember well standing on the Stretford End for less than £2 in the mid-1980s. That’s a little over £5 in today’s money. Prices are unlikely to drop that far today, but the club can do something about making the game just a little more affordable.

If you’re similarly minded you can sign this online petition, which will be delivered to the club in due course.

Glazers could reignite fan battle

Ed April 21, 2011 Tags: , , , Opinion 41 comments

It is now almost 18 months since Old Trafford was first bathed in the green and gold of protest. The Glazer family’s decision to borrow more than £500 million on the international bond market sparked a new wave of supporter protest, and a level of anger not seen in Manchester since the reclusive Americans first appeared in the city. Yet that protest has achieved very little bar a thousand headlines and last summer’s season ticket prize freeze. Small fry compared to the regime change that became supporter groups stated aim.

But with next year’s ticket prices shortly announced, will Manchester United’s executive management stick or twist; fending off protest for the summer or provoking another wave of anger?

Indeed, the decision to raise prices (or not) at Old Trafford – rises have been announced by both Arsenal and Chelsea recently – will have already been taken, despite disingenuous claims by the club that it has not. The imminent announcement on ticket prices will be the first salvo in another summer-long battle of wills between supporters and United’s ownership.

Last summer’s price freeze bought the regime few friends, with thousands of fans still walking away from season ticket ownership, but the relative absence of green and gold at Old Trafford this season has marked a lull is supporter protest. The Glazer’s decision to raise, lower or freeze prices for next season could add new verve to the protest. Or perhaps kill it stone dead. Another freeze will buy the regime more time; price rises could spark yet more anger and another call to boycott season ticket renewals.

And although the regime has not once lowered prices in six seasons in charge at United, there is precedent at the Glazer’s NFL franchise. In fact, with attendances at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers falling so steeply that the team’s TV coverage was blacked out by the league, the Glazer family chose to cut ticket prices by up to 30 per cent. It was a move born of financial necessity – blackouts, designed to keep attendances high, are costly to franchise owners, and the regime had been forced to buy its own tickets for many matches last season.

The family made the most of its decision though, claiming the owners to be supporter-centric in a time of financial hardship in the United States.

“Our organization has spent a lot of time listening to our fans at this time when our team is thriving and our economy is not,” Joel Glazer recently said recently.

“As a result, we are now offering several pricing changes in response to our community’s needs.”

The move has raised hopes that the Glazer family will similarly reduce costs at Old Trafford, which have increased by 50 per cent in aggregate since the Americans took control. Unsurprisingly, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has called for fans in Manchester to be afforded the same treatment as their counterparts in Florida.

“Joel Glazer said he’s listened to the Tampa fans. Well it’s about time he listened to Manchester United fans and responded by cutting our ticket prices too,” MUST Vice Chair Sean Bones said in a statement.

“Manchester United supporters should not feel they are subsidising the Glazers’ American Football Franchise as well as their debt. After the huge price rises our fans have endured while the Glazers have been taking out millions of pounds from our club if anything we deserve bigger price cuts than the Tampa fans.

“Anything other than an equivalent cut in prices at Manchester United will be seen as a slap in the face for United fans.”

There are, however, key differences between the financial model at Old Trafford and that in Tampa. First, and certainly most important, there is no TV blackout system in the Premier League. There is, therefore, no chance United’s TV revenue will fall sharply under the current rights contracts, unless the club fails to make the Champions League. With that possibility remote, Old Trafford bean counters are under no financial pressure to act on ticket prices.

There is also little pressure on attendances in Manchester. While thousands of supporters have given up season tickets, the scale of United’s support is such that matches are mostly sold out or as close to it to make very little financial difference. The family’s decision to increase individual non-member match ticket prices this season, and retain the despised automatic cup match ticket scheme, underlined the Glazer’s confidence is continuing to sell in volume.

Indeed, the evidence supports a rise in prices at Old Trafford this summer, backed by another aggressive marketing campaign aimed at selling season tickets. Already, the club has marketed its non-existence ‘season ticket waiting list’. While the list is nothing more than an email marketing database – offering no priority tickets to supporters who sign up – there is also no shame within the regime about using every available tactic to sell tickets. After all, how can there be a waiting list when United failed to sell all available season tickets last summer?

Still, the question for the regime is whether it feels the need to pacify United’s supporters with price cuts and star names, or not. History points to another summer of promises over money available for transfer spend spending; and misleading statements that United is a club built on ‘making stars, not buying them.’

If the close season also includes a price hike, green and gold may also return next season.

United freezes prices, MUST claim victory

Ed March 24, 2010 Tags: , , , Opinion 3 comments

Manchester United has confirmed ticket prices will remain static for next season in a short statement on the club’s website. United, the only Premier League club to raise ticket prices this year, is under severe pressure from the rapidly growing supporters’ protest movement, aimed at removing the Glazer family from the club.

The club is more than £716.5 million in debt according to the latest figures and under pressure to increase revenues. While the move to freeze prices is a surprise it represents a cost to the Glazer family of just over £1 million based on the £1-per-match increase for 2009/10.

“Manchester United has decided to freeze the prices of its Season Tickets for the 2010/11 season,” said a statement on ManUtd.com.

“This means that the cost per home match for Season Ticket holders and One United members remains between £27 and £49.”

Ticket prices have increased by 48 per cent on average since the Glazer family’s leveraged buyout in 2005 – more than a third above the rate of inflation for a comparable period.

Duncan Drasdo, ceo of the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST), reacted by claiming victory over the Glazer family.

“There’s no way that the owners would have done anything than increase prices significantly if the campaign hadn’t grown,” added Drasdo, whose has seen MUST membership increase from 34,000 in January to 145,000 today.

“The green and gold in the stands has obviously got the people in Tampa rattled and they’re trying to buy off supporters. I don’t believe that will happen.

“We know that 75 pence in every pound of profit leaves the club. The Glazers are very bad for the club. We’ve had huge ticket prices in the past so a freeze now is just a freeze at very high prices.”

Anger at increasing ticket prices has led to speculation that up to 60 per cent of United season ticket holders will not renew for 2010/11. Although that seems wide of the mark, a non-renewal rate of 10,000 seats will surprise few, with empty spaces in Old Trafford at matches this season for the first time in nearly two decades.

“We’ll see a lot more people choosing to pay only for the matches they want to attend and not buying season tickets,” added Drasdo, whose organisation is supportive of the so-called Red Knights’ bid to buy the club in the coming months.

“We want the Red Knights to come forward with plans and provided they’re in the interest of the fans and the football club then we’d like those plans to turn into an offer the Glazers can’t refuse.”

Prices at Old Trafford will range from £27 behind the goal in the Stretford End or ‘K’ Stand, to £49 in the North and South stands. Tickets are also up to £10 more expensive for Champions League matches, with no discounts for less popular Carling Cup fixtures.

Ticket price rises: will you accept it?

Ed March 18, 2010 Tags: , , Opinion 8 comments

The Guardian today reports news that will surprise no Manchester United fans bar the gullible: the Glazer family is planning to hike ticket prices for next season. The family, unmoved by mass fans’ protest, recently boasted of its ability to increase prices this season when 19 other Premier League clubs froze or reduced admission.

Ticket prices have risen by an average 48 per cent for standard seats at Old Trafford during the five-year Glazer regime, which is by far the highest in the Premier League. The rises outstrips inflation, which stands at just fourteen per cent during the same time period, by more than a third.

“Manchester United are giving strong consideration to increasing season-ticket prices to help with the club’s enormous interest payments, despite being acutely aware such a move would increase the sense of animosity that has led to fans protesting against the ruling Glazer family,” claimed The Guardian today.

“The Glazers have begun discussions with the club’s England-based directors about next season’s prices, with an official announcement due in the next month, and the early talks have been geared towards United continuing their habit of making supporters pay more every year since the Americans took control in 2005”

The club has also changed the mix between executive and standard seats, with relatively fewer cheap seats available, especially since the opening of the North East and West quadrants in 2007. It’s a move that has the Glazers to increase matchday income by 65 per cent in the past five years – a £109 million “Glazer tax”, according to financier Andy Green.

Indeed, prices at Old Trafford, which range from £27 behind the goal to £49 in the North and South stands, are now comparable to those at Chelsea and Arsenal despite regional income differences. Tickets are also up to £10 more expensive for Champions League matches, with no discounts for less popular Carling Cup fixtures. That is to say little of the hated Automatic Cup Ticket scheme.

The refinancing has also placed pressure on the family to continually increase revenues, with up to 79 per cent of each pound spent by fans at Old Trafford disappearing in interest payments, management fees and dividends associated with the Glazers’ ownership of the club over the next seven years.

“While other Premier League clubs have experienced a flattening or reduction in ticket prices in response to the economic downturn, we were able to increase aggregate ticket prices for the 2009-10 season by 2.5%,” boasted the Glazers’ recent bond issue prospectus of the family’s ability to raise ticket prices in the face of global economic downturn.

Indeed, the family’s Payment-in-Kind (PiK) loans will cost an eye-watering 16.5 per cent interest per annum from August, increasing its determination to remove cash from club coffers. Up to £70 million in the next financial year.

Anger at the Glazers’ management of the club, together with increasingly expensive tickets, is likely to mean thousands of fans will give up their seats for the forthcoming season, even if an official boycott is not called.

While Red Knight Keith Harris recently called for supporters to place pressure on the family by refusing to buy season tickets, a recent Virgin Money survey concluded that up to 60 per cent of United fans will not renew next year.

With prices set to rise anyway, it’s a scenario that seemingly has little effect on the Glazer family. The question is – if it comes down to walking away for the club, even for a short time, to force regime change at Old Trafford – will you?