Archive → June, 2011
In past by this time of year the manutd.com website would read. ‘Season tickets sold out’ For the second year running that isn’t the case. Last year after all the renewals and the ’25,000 strong season ticket waiting list’ 4,000 season tickets went on general sale. When United say they’ve sold 50,000 tickets that might seem great but in 2008-2009 they sold 64,000 season tickets. That’s 14,000 down.
Because of last seasons the 19th Title and a European Cup Final place the owners believe they can get away with putting the price of the tickets up. They likely believe the ‘movement’ against them has gone away but in reality it’s moved to a different stage. One where new background options after years or protesting might have paid off in the short term. For most season ticket holders buying next seasons ticket it wasn’t about the Glazers or the ‘movement, although that will have had an effect. It’s the cost. At a time when prices have risen and people have lost their jobs, seeing your season ticket increase by £19 will be the final straw for many fans. They simply cannot afford it, that’s not only at United it’s at many clubs. I know a number of fans who haven’t renewed this year but did last year and it shows success does not guarantee bums on seats. This might seem strange but there a lot of people who don’t watch United because of success. United during the 1970s and 1980s had little success but am sure there are a lot of fans out there would cut off their right arm to go back with a few changes.
What’s been reported from the social networking sites, forums and United blogs paints a small picture of what I think is going on behind the scenes at the ticket office. PR for United and the Glazers has been become a huge thing and last season United found out the ‘waiting list’ was a complete failure. I’ve been quiet about this over the last few weeks but it’s been reported in a number of places now. Texts, emails and phone calls. It seems the club are first targeting existing season ticket holders to buy extra tickets and ex-holders who aren’t on any waiting list to buy tickets. As a PR exercise the last thing United want to do is tell the press there are another 4,000 tickets on general sale. If United could hard sell tickets to existing and ex holders and members not on the waiting list over the next week or so, they can then use the ‘waiting list’ as brilliant PR piece. I can see it now David Gill ‘We sold 54,000 tickets and have a 20,000 strong waiting list’ A waiting list they had no intention to sell season tickets too unless forced to. The only other thing is they have used the waiting list already, set a deadline and the first set of replies have been poor as the season before was. I doubt this is the case but it’s possible.
Another big thing is the finance option United have offered on season tickets, I love to know just how many fans used this option and from what I’ve seen many have used this option. Using this option really does show in 2011 it’s not just the Glazers using debt to buy something they can’t afford but the fans have also been forced to use debt to fund the Glazers prices increases.
Supporters Direct is currently undergoing a funding issue as the FSIF removed over £1 million of funding, due to a tweet. As a supporter of football the first thing you can do is contact your local MP and send them an email asking them to sign this supporting Supporters Direct….
You can find your local MP very easily by typing in your postcode here …. http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
Here is an example letter you could send….
Dear ‘Insert MPs name’
As a local resident and a supporter of our local club ‘insert club’, I’d call on you to follow 17 other MPs in signing a motion declaring support for Supporters Direct. Am sure many 10,000s of ‘insert club’ fans around ‘insert town’ would ask you the same thing if given the chance. This is extremely important for not just for my club but every other football club in the country. Mainly the smaller clubs and this also includes many Rugby clubs. Supporters Direct is the voice of many 100,000s football and other sports fans in the United Kingdom and it must NOT be allowed to fail. This would be unacceptable. I hope you have the time read this and the motion that has been tabled.
The second thing you can do which is very easy and simple is join this Facebook Group showing your support for Supporters Direct. https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_162031167197147
Do those two things and I’ll buy you a pint or a glass of wine.
Qatar have again and again and again and again been linked with taking over United and I get loads of questions about it, so here is it explained.
There are three Qatari groups currently involved and linked in European Football.
1. Qatar Investment Authority (This is the sovereign wealth fund, the one in charge of investing any extra oil and gas revenue which comes into the country. This is ran by the Prime Minister of Qatar)
2. Qatar Holdings (Qatar Holdings is a direct subsidiary of the Qatar Investment Authority, therefore it is owned and run by the same people in the QIA)
3. Qatar Foundation (This a priviate non profit organisation which is run by the prime minsters wife, not himself, if he has any involvement I’ve not seen it yet. There seem to be no links to the Qatar Investment Authority)
As you can see the differences between the two main organisations currently involved are only small but are likely enough to allow them to have two involvement’s within European Football. The Qatar Foundation currently sponsors Barcelona and the Qatar Investment Authority/Qatar Holdings own 70% of PSG. If the Foundation being a non-profit organisation allows them by default to sponsor Barcelona, am not completely sure but this could also be the case. The Qatar Investment Authority is the one which holds the £10 Billions in funds to be invested in different areas of business and this is the one linked with United. While they own 70% of PSG, they CANNOT take over United. UEFA rules state one group or person cannot have two involvements in European football. Unless another member of the Royal Family steps up and is linked with a takeover, my view as has been over the last few weeks, is that this is a no go and the idea should be dropped.
I thought atleast one member of the press would have noted that Qatar have brought into PSG and then done some research about UEFA rules. Seems not. This morning again, Qatar Holdings who are owned by the Qatar Investment Authority where linked with funding the transfer dealings of United and were again lining up a bid. Last season there was the £100 war million chest and this season it’s a £125 million. This time it seems it’s last summers stories, hyped up and with a strong lack of research from the editors and writers. So far officially United haven’t spent a penny. Anyone doing any research would understand anyone on the list of directors/owners of Qatar Holdings or the Investment Authority CANNOT have multiple stakes on two different clubs in UEFA competitions. We are talking about the Qatari Royal Family only here so I would guess most members of the Qatari Royal Family have involvement within the arm. The only way a takeover could happen is if someone inside the Qatari Royal Family took over the club separately. So the stories from this morning have to be complete lies, unless they want to risk seeing both clubs in trouble. The stories say ‘Qatar Holdings’ and they don’t mention anyone else. That option currently is not going to happen without some big changes. So members of the press, do some research for those of us who aren’t that daft.
The other rumour which I cannot really comment on is the Hong Kong floatation, it could be possible if the Glazers plan to raise some money but no one really knows what their plan is. I am inclined to believe transfer rumours and takeover rumours are more to do with selling season tickets, than actually signing a big name player or changing the ownership of the club. Last season £100 million war chest, was it spent? No. This season £125m war chest, has anyone signed yet? No. (update Jones signed not long after I wrote this, but the point still stands) After the last weeks three players who were bound for United but now have legal issues, it makes me think, someone has been fibbing.
Don’t believe everything the press say because some of it, is complete proven bollocks!
The FSIF last month cut funding to Supporters Direct and group who have in turn caused many of the Premier League clubs many problems over the last year. Their official reason was a number of offensive comments from the head of Supporters Direct. The Supporters Direct board after the event, dealt with the issue and the head was lucky to keep his job but the FSIF believe one or two tiny comments is worth cutting funding to an organisation which on the face of it had nothing to do with the comments. The board members on the FSIF who made the decision are a very interesting bunch. One is Richard Scudamore. A Premier League head, telling which fan groups can and cannot get money. They might as well have appointed David Gill. Richard Scudemore and Premier League believe all their problems don’t really exist and they can sort everything out themselves. They believe debt isn’t an issue and the owners are good for the game. So when a group like Supporters Direct publish official documents saying there is an issue with both areas you can clearly see where Scudemore has an issue. Its a clear conflict of interest. He works for David Gill and the other league heads, so he’s using this as an excuse to cut funding. Cutting the bottom out of any bid to change the ownership of clubs, is a must for him. Lets get this clear Supporters Direct is an official government sanctioned organisation and it as a group has never launched negative comments about anyone or any group. It works for 100,000s of supporters and 100s of football clubs across the country. Could even be millions of fans. Any cut in funding is far more than just because of some comments. Underneath all the official comments the Premier League wants to see the fan groups dead. David Gill and the Glazers, see the Manchester United Supporters Trust as a big issue and a big problem stopping them from truly ripping everyone off. At Arsenal both the American trying to take over and the Russian trying to buy the Arsenal Supporters Trust shares, will now want to see it gone. Who ever takes over will want them well out of the way. At Newcastle Mike Ashley has been at war with the fans for years, they even pushed him to a point of selling the club. Am sure at Liverpool if John Henry has any future issues, the Liverpool Supporters Trust will cause him problems. For the Premier League and the owners to try and pull the rug out of under the carpet right now would be perfect timing. Just as the government are about to release their report on how to change football. Supporters Direct has been a large of that and it will keep playing a role. If the FSIF really cared about fan groups, it wouldn’t be cutting funding to the central body which runs ALL of the official ones.
Every year 10,000s of fans go through this stage… should I or shouldn’t I renew. If you don’t you’ll have that feeling of ‘am I missing out but I my bank account is £700 up’ and if you do it’s the feeling of ‘yes, I’ve renewed but bloody hell I can’t afford this.’ Some fans will renew without even thinking about it, but I bet most don’t. Even the hardest of the hard core ones. Those ones who go to every game home and away. If it’s never crossed your mind, your a liar.
One very big thing which did affect past renewals was the ‘If I give it up, I’ll never get it back’ That has ended last season. If you are keeping season tickets in the family because you think you’ll never get another season ticket, ever again. That’s now ended, it’s been dead for over 18 months. My view, give them up, get rid, if you want them back a few seasons then, they will still be ones on offer.
The next thing is the ‘season ticket waiting list’ I’ll put this another way they send out emails to those who might want them but 85% of the people on it, either see the price and think fuck that or they didn’t really want one in the first place. United reckoned they had 25,000 on it last season but completely failed to sell out. For the first time, they had season tickets on general sale. 5,000 of them. That means after renewals and the season ticket waiting list offers. They still had around 10% up for sale, even at the same price as the season before.
This season renewals have a twist, the owners believe because of a final and a nineteenth success, that means they can put the prices up. Forget the VAT increase, a £300m revenue club not being able to take that on is complete rubbish. The VAT increase over 55,000 tickets is around the same as they pay Rooney over a month. I think they could have taken the hit. Now everyone has said ‘it’s only a pound a game’ or as I put it’s a £19 increase. The same £19 pound increase that was put on tickets other years. It’s only a pound a game but over 6 seasons it’s £250-400 extra a season. Next season it will only be a pound and the season after it will only be a pound. When people say to me ‘but Liverpool’ ‘but Arsenal’ but nothing. They aren’t like us. We were fighting for the club in the 1990s. Arsenal fans only clocked on last month! Liverpool fans? God knows what planet they are on, they welcomed the Americans, both sets. Neither of them really have a clue.
My view is if your on that waiting list and have never had a season ticket before, consider the person that just gave it up. If that person gave it up because of cost or the glazers, you have blood all over your hands. If you’ve had one for years I have no problem with you renewing, it’s a hard choice or renew or not to renew. Not renewing for many is a very hard thing to do, but when you consider the way the Old Trafford atmosphere has gone, the price and what it now represents, it can make you feel like you’ve been robbed both ways. Lets face it, a lot of the people who go into Old Trafford now are clueless. They believe you must buy the shirt to support the club, and when crap chants such ‘we’ll do what we want’ and ‘who are ya’ are the only songs the muppets know, you know it’s gone down the pan. The other people who should be banned inside Old Trafford are those who think having a season ticket is some sort of status symbol. Here’s a hint, go and support Arsenal, they’ll love you.
So do you renew? or another question, are you getting the experience you really want? CES Stewards, crap songs, mongs, tourists, more expensive tickets, 1,000s leaving early even for the European Cup Final (anyone who left before the trophy was lifted needs that head of theirs checking) and no season ticket waiting list. If you don’t renew now or if you don’t buy a ticket now, this should always be in the back of your mind, ‘I can always buy one next season or the season after.’ While ticket prices go up and the Glazers use the club as a piggy bank, that’s the way it will be.