Seating configuration, behaviour and young fans
Away match tickets
Prices and finance
1.1 The need for an independent fans organisation has been
evident for some time because of the ever increasing admission
prices at Old Trafford and the lack of a constructive dialogue
between fans and the Board of Directors. The catalyst for the
formation of IMUSA was an announcement over the PA system at Old
Trafford during last season's match against Arsenal. As supporters
encouraged a performance that put us back in the Premiership chase,
the aforementioned announcement informed us that we must sit down or
be removed from the Stadium. This message, which resulted in
changing the atmosphere from one of celebration to one of anger,
proved that relations and communications between the Club and the
supporters had reached an all-time low.
Seating configuration, behaviour and young
2.1 The redevelopment of the North Stand provides an ideal and
unique opportunity to redefine the match day experience for all
United fans. At present, the general opinion amongst many supporters
is that there is an imbalance between what is expected by the fans
and what actually happens at a match. As not all supporters want the
same things from a match, a re-configuration of the seating
arrangements at Old Trafford would also provide the opportunity to
reduce tension between United fans with different match-going
expectations. Redevelopment provides the chance to recreate the
balance that appears to have been lost since the Taylor Report which
has resulted in a vast reduction in the number of young fans
attending Old Trafford as well as a loss of atmosphere.
2.2 Thousands of regular supporters wish to stand at appropriate
times during play such as when a goal is scored, a corner or free
kick awarded, an exciting attack develops or simply to urge the team
to victory. IMUSA acknowledge that many fans become annoyed by
persistent standing and understand that the aforementioned
announcement was in the interest of those supporters.
2.3 However, the expansion of Old Trafford should allow provision
for areas in the ground where it is understood that, at appropriate
times, fans can stand in seated areas. Such an understanding would
reduce tension in the ground, improve the atmosphere and therefore
improve the match-day experience of all United fans at no expense to
2.4 In the same period since the implementation of the Taylor
Report - and despite the success United have achieved - there has
been a noticeable drop in the number of young, particularly local,
fans attending matches. For some, the price increases have proved
prohibitive, whilst others have been locked out or discouraged from
attending due to the non-existence of an area where they can
socialise with people of their own age. For many, it is just too `uncool`
to sit in the Family Stand with their parents. IMUSA propose that
under 16`s should be encouraged to get into the habit of watching
United, otherwise they may be lost to some other form of
entertainment forever. Going to the match should be turned into a
social event for teenagers, as it was for many of the current
generation of adult supporters, as this is the most likely way they
will become repeat consumers. In short, IMUSA propose that areas of
the Stadium, preferably behind the goals, be set aside for
pay-on-the-day admission. We believe young fans could be encouraged
into this area by way of cut-price admission. We feel pay-on-the-day
admission is essential to attracting young fans, as many do not have
bank accounts or are unable to raise the money for a ticket five
weeks in advance. How many of United`s current supporters would be
going now if forced to go through such an ordeal as teenagers?
2.5 Additionally IMUSA believe that the junior upper age limit of
16 is too low for the modern teenager. Many 16-18 year olds go into
further education and are therefore without an income, whilst the
majority of those employed are on very low incomes. The age limit
should be increased or an intermediate pricing scale initiated.
2.6 Concessions for OAPs should be advertised far more widely, as
many older fans are unaware that a discount is available on LMTB/ST
prices. OAPs should be offered half price admission in line with
other clubs, as many of these fans have given years of loyal support
to MUFC. Cheaper admission would be a just reward, as well as
enhancing the Club's public image.
2.7 As a measure to improve the atmosphere at Old Trafford, it is
proposed that there should be areas of unreserved seating i.e. where
people can sit in any seat in these specified areas. This will
enable both groups of friends and people who wish to sing to sit
together rather than be dispersed separately throughout the ground
as at present. A further advantage of unreserved seating is that
supporters will be encouraged to arrive early at the ground so as to
get the best seats, thus reducing congestion close to kick-off time
and increasing pre-match revenue from in-stadium catering.
Unreserved seating arrangements are successful at several
Premiership clubs, such as Liverpool and Everton. Those LMTB/ST
holders currently sitting in such areas who wish to remain should be
allowed to do so.
2.8 IMUSA believe that the time to incorporate the proposals
listed above is upon the forthcoming opening of the new North Stand.
This opportunity should also be used to create a healthy atmosphere
and give all types of supporters the choice of seating they require.
2.9 The ground plan enclosed with this document shows how a
re-configuration of the seating plan can be of benefit to everybody
involved with Manchester United.
2.10 Most supporters agree that it is only fair for United to
give a reasonable allocation of tickets to away fans as we expect
the same when visiting other grounds. IMUSA also understand the
difficulty in the placing of a sizeable away following and the
constraints issued by the police. It is therefore proposed that an
approximate allocation of 3000 seats would be appropriate, situated
in Stands A, L and L Lower, which gives easy access to Sir Matt
Busby Way and is sufficiently far enough away from both the Family
Stand and Executive seating areas. Stands A and L are both
segregated underneath and are therefore ideal. IMUSA proposes that
the disabled seating area, currently in L Lower, should be relocated
to a larger area in the Stadium, possibly in the South Stand Lower.
2.11 It is understood that the plans for the new North Stand
include a provision for an area of premium seating in the central
section of what was G and H Stands. This will mean that many central
section G & H Season Ticket and LMTB Holders will be re-located
to inferior areas. IMUSA propose that on completion of the
re-development work these supporters should be offered seats similar
in view and location to those previously held. We submit that the
new area of premium seating should be in the tier above, along with
the relocation of Club Class from the Stretford End. Additionally,
it is proposed that the Family Stand should also be relocated to one
side of the premium seating area. These measures would provide a
complete area of premium seating between the two tiers of Executive
Boxes, together with an increased area for the Family Stand, and
hopefully would re-create the Stretford End as the hot-bed of
United`s support. We would also hope that the restaurant facilities
beneath the current Club Class area could be converted into a social
club for members, similar to those at most other major clubs. We
assume that new restaurant facilities will incorporated in the
re-developed North Stand.
2.12 We propose that the specified areas where 'standing' (see
2.2) could be allowed should be the entire Stretford End, K Stand
and East Lower. The combined capacity of these areas represents
approximately 30% of the new capacity. It is further proposed that
East and West Lower should be areas of unreserved seating.
2.13 Stands F, J, South Lower, and the remainder of the North
Stand not already allocated, should be for those who wish to remain
seated and have a pre-determined seat etc.
2.14 IMUSA believe that these proposals would be to the advantage
of all United fans, both present and future.
Away match tickets
3.1 Many regular away match travellers feel aggrieved that the
ticket distribution system of 1994 did not reward loyalty but
affluence. The system introduced for 1994-1995, although more
democratic, does not reward loyalty either. Many find it morally
wrong that away ticket priority should be offered as a selling point
for Executive facilities at Old Trafford. It is essential that any
system is seen to be fair and that those holding Executive and
Club-Class facilities should be given no greater priority than LMTB
or Season Ticket Holders.
3.2 IMUSA has contacted all Premiership clubs to research fairer
systems of distribution. Several clubs operate sophisticated methods
that could be used by the ticket office at minimal expense. The
favoured distribution method is similar to Arsenal`s, where every
travelling supporter has a personal code which is input to a
computer for every away match they attend. Then, for matches where
tickets are in great demand, computer records show who has attended
most away matches therefore allowing for loyalty to be rewarded. As
tickets are in great demand for all United away matches, records
should show everyone who applied for tickets, not just the
successful ones. We would be willing to make the details of this
research available on request.
3.3 It has been argued that such arrangements might encourage
more affluent fans to apply for all away matches, whether they
intended going or not, thus ensuring a favourable probability of
getting tickets for `big' away games. However, IMUSA believe that
the number of fans who can afford all games but are not willing to
attend such matches would be minimal. Obviously this system will
take the best part of a season to settle down, though eventually it
should run smoothly and fairly, so long as records continue from the
4.1 Travel to European away games has also caused concern for
many United fans. When spending hundreds of pounds for one match,
most fans wish to spend some time (i.e. several days) enjoying the
country they are visiting. Unfortunately, official club tours have
proved less than satisfactory in this regard but, because the club
refuse to issue tickets to fans travelling on their own resources,
many fans have no other choice.
4.2 IMUSA feel that as it is only a recommendation from the FA
that fans should travel with the club, this recommendation should be
discarded in favour of a more liberal system where members showing
their bona fide travel documents would be provided with match
tickets. In short, we feel that United fans should be trusted due to
our impeccable record since the European club ban was lifted.
Selling tickets to fans who wish to travel independently would mean
all MUFC supporters would be in the same part of the stadium thus
making control and organisation much easier. We would repeat that
the FA`s recommendation remains just that: other clubs have chosen
to trust their fans without repercussions.
Prices and finance
5.1 Most United fans - and particularly IMUSA members - are
rightfully concerned that continuing increases in admission prices
have already proved prohibitive to many long-standing supporters.
The costs incurred due to the Taylor Report have been passed on to
the average fan, against the recommendations in that Report.
Furthermore, prices have continued to rise way above the rate of
inflation even after improvements have been paid for; many
supporters have been forced to pay for seated accommodation when
they would have preferred to stand at much cheaper prices. It is
recognised that standing accommodation will not be allowed to return
but United`s pricing policy has failed to recognise the hidden extra
cost. Another hidden increase is the the reduction in the number of
games a Season Ticket or LMTB pays for. These hidden costs, together
with absolute changes in price, have resulted in real rises many
times above the rate of the average wage increase.
5.2 In light of this, IMUSA proposes that there should be no
increase in admission prices next season and thereafter prices
should be pegged to the rate of inflation - with prices for young
fans actually being reduced. If prices continue to increase at the
present rate, many supporters will be forced away from Old Trafford
forever. Historically it was the proud boast of MUFC that United
were amongst the cheapest teams to watch. Now that this is no longer
the case we feel that, as a minimum, prices should be more in line
with those charged at other leading North West clubs, particularly
in view of increasing revenue from commercial activities.
5.3 It is further proposed that prices should be reduced for less
attractive games (i.e. Coca Cola Cup games) to give less affluent
fans an opportunity to see the first team at Old Trafford. In
previous seasons, LMTB/ST Holders have received a number of free
games as recognition for advance payment; this practice should be
reintroduced. Other clubs offer discounts if early payment is made
when renewing facilities and we believe MUFC should give
consideration to similar arrangements. With the expansion of the
stadium, the less attractive fixtures will give the opportunity for
discounts to be offered to schools and youth groups, thus cementing
the youngsters' ties with MUFC.
5.4 IMUSA feel that as Season Ticket and LMTB prices have
increased to such a level, some form of payment scheme would be
beneficial to United fans. Endsleigh Insurance are running a Season
Ticket payment scheme, through a company called Leisure Credit. It
is understood that this company approached Manchester United plc to
offer their service to MUFC fans. The scheme offered would involve
no cost to the club, as Leisure Credit deal with the administration
themselves. MUFC simply issue the tickets to the fans and receive
payment from Leisure Credit, with supporters making the payments
over a period of months. There are no credit checks or interest
charges so both fans and MUFC have nothing to lose.
5.5 Premiership clubs such as West Ham, Bolton and Blackburn have
accepted this scheme and it has proved successful. IMUSA understand
the Board of MUFC have turned down this offer. We would like to ask
the Board to reconsider their decision and give consideration to the
financial burden of purchasing an annual ticket in one advance lump
6.1 IMUSA hope that in future dialogue with the board can be
conducted in person rather than through letters and the media.
Dialogue with an independent association would have prevented the
confusion and anger that the announcement at the Arsenal match
caused. Such a matter could have been discussed fully with IMUSA
before being passed onto United`s fans. The announcement would
undoubtedly have been better received through an independent
organisation than via the match programme and PA system. The Club
would have been able to gauge reaction prior to any announcement by
talking directly to the fans.
6.2 We believe that the foregoing shows we can provide a valuable
insight into what your consumers want and help prevent the sort of
mistakes that have occurred in the past. Most companies would pay
heavily for the type of consumer feedback IMUSA has to offer and, as
the final decisions will always be yours, you have nothing to lose.
Manchester-based fans have no contact with the Board, except through
ineffective letters, and Branch Secretaries have expressed
reluctance to reveal their true feelings publicly lest sanctions be
applied against their Branch.
6.3 IMUSA therefore feel that regular dialogue with the Board
would be beneficial to all United fans, especially Branch members,
as well as to the Board of Directors.
We thank for your time in reading this document and commend it to