Independent Manchester United Supporters Association

3pm Saturday Kick-Offs


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MPs joining protest at early games

ANGRY MPs are to protest to soccer chiefs about Manchester United's early matches.

Driven by the demands of TV schedules, the Reds have opted for 12.30pm starts on Saturdays inside of the traditional 3pm, causing uproar amongst supporters.

Now the team have announced that their last home game of the season against Charlton in May will also be at 12.30pm and that has angered members of the parliamentary Manchester United Supporters Group.

Its spokesman, Labour MP, Phil Woolas, a government whip, says he's furious that the club are bowing to the needs of TV rather than the supporters.

"This is infuriating for all the members of the Manchester United Supporters Group in the commons and we intend to take it up with the Premier League," says the lifelong Reds fan.

Supporters have been staging a series of protests about the early starts on Saturdays.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Manchester United Supporters Group is the Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd.

"There are some games where police ask for an early start, and that's right for potentially explosive games," said Mr Lloyd.

Too many times

"It can be accepted now and again, but not regularly." United and Fulham fans stood together outside Old Trafford last weekend to launch a nationwide protest at moves away from the traditional kick-off time of 3pm on a Saturday.

United say that the early kick-off, which has drawn criticism from manager Sir Alex Ferguson and his players in the past, could benefit them this time.

They could be involved in the first leg of a Champions League semi-final on the following Tuesday, in which case the extra few hours of rest afforded by a noon start would be a plus.

United get 600,000 for every live game they stage, but say the issue cuts much deeper than simple commercial interest.

Club spokesman Paddy Harverson said: "We understand the concerns of fans but we have to take into consideration all of the different parties involved when making this decision, including Sky who pay substantial amounts for the rights to show games, the Premier League whose contract it is, as well as ourselves and our opponents, who also share in the match revenue.

"Then, of course, there is the police, who generally do not like games to kick off late in the day when pubs have been open for a long time.

"There are also millions of United fans around the country who enjoy watching us live on television, because they can't get to the games.

"We understand and sympathise with those fans whose schedule is disrupted, but it's swings and roundabouts."


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