Match report by United fan Paul James
MUST is the independent Manchester United supporters trust. We are dedicated to securing meaningful permanent ownership of MUFC for supporters.
It appears MUST's Parliamentary meeting last week is bearing some early fruit. John Leech was one of the MPs MUST met with last week at Westminster and we discussed the ongoing issues over the Compulsory ACS and this specific issue of bannings from the next home game. He said he wanted to bring the issue up in Parliament - so true to his word.
Despite being a Manchester City ST Holder, John (MP for Withington) is a longstanding MUST Patron and has campaigned on fan issues consistently being especially vocal on safe standing and ticket prices.
This is from the Press Association:
Manchester United should stop the "unnecessary and callous punishment" of a stadium ban for season ticket holders who do not buy cup tickets, MPs say.
The Red Devils have come under fire for using a scheme which obliges thousands of supporters to buy tickets for home cup ties or face being shut out from the next Premier League home game.
Liberal Democrat sports spokesman John Leech said the ticket scheme should be voluntary rather than automatic, with fans having already paid to watch the league games.
He also noted ticket prices for United's FA Cup replay with League Two Cambridge United ranged from £31 to £53 for adults, adding this placed a financial burden on fans who "may be unable or not wish to attend the game".
Conservative former minister Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) has backed the call for change, which has been outlined in an early day motion tabled in Parliament by Manchester City season ticket holder Mr Leech.
An EDM is a formal motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons although very few are actually debated.
The EDM states: "That this House notes that the Manchester United automatic cup scheme obliges season ticket holders to buy tickets for home cup ties.
"(It) further notes that the punishment for not doing so is a stadium ban for the next Premier League home game, even though such games have already been paid for.
"(It) further notes that tickets for the FA Cup replay against League Two Cambridge United on February 3, 2015, ranged from £31 to £53 for adults and that the date for this tie was only confirmed eight days before the match.
"(It) recognises that this additional cost at such late notice is a financial burden on fans who may be unable or not wish to attend the game.
"(It) further recognises that the enforcement of a one-game stadium ban upon supporters who do not wish to or cannot afford to attend an extra mid-week match is an unnecessary and callous punishment.
"(It) further notes that the voluntary cup schemes offered by other clubs both provide season ticket holders with flexibility in match attendance and enable non-regular attendees to see football in their place.
"(It) condemns the policy of any football club forcing season ticket holders to sign-up to compulsory ticket purchases for cup ties, and calls on Manchester United FC to remove this clause from its terms and conditions and replace it with a Voluntary Cup Scheme."
MUST Chief Executive is heading to Westminster for a meeting with MPs this afternoon to present MUST proposals for Football Ownership & Governance reform.
These proposals have been endorsed as effective and feasible by a number of advisors including top Corporate Lawyers such as Freshfields' Mark Rawlinson (acting in a personal capacity and pro bono). Mark was one of the 2010 Red Knights but also advisor to MUFC board in 2004/5 when he devised the innovative, initially successful defence against the Glazer takeover before Cubic Expression indicated their desire for the offer to proceed.
If implemented these proposals would prevent, amongst a plethora of other ills, a Glazer style leveraged takeover, or indeed any actions (on behalf of shareholders) which were against the interests of the Club
A few bullet points:
- A new Football Club Ownership & Governance Act
- A simplified corporate ownership structure - a single holding company (or new entity) registered in UK (EU), governed by UK Law and paying UK Tax
- Fans to be legally recognised as key stakeholders especially with respect to certain reserved matters such as Club name, colours. location ...
- We should not accept lower standards of Corporate Governance from our Football Clubs than our listed public companies
- All clubs to comply with UK Corporate Governance Code and operate under the highest practicable levels of transparency
- Controlling boards of our clubs should have a majority of independent directors to prevent abuse/exploitation by any single shareholder/owner
- Let the executives and management do their jobs without owner interference
- Duties of Independent Directors, as with ordinary companies, remain to the shareholders, except where there is a conflict of interest with the Club. Then Club must take priority
- Duties of Independent Directors to also include (a) promoting Club engagement, consultation and transparency with supporters and (b) facilitating supporter investment in Club shares to promote shared ownership with fans
- New tax reliefs akin to EIS/SITR for supporters' trusts' saving and football club share investment vehicles
- "Right to Buy". A portion of any Club share sale should be offered, as a time limited option, to the Supporters' Trust
- "Right to Invest". When specified criteria are met the Supporters' Trust has the option to request new shares are issued to allow cash investment into Club while increasing supporter ownership stake. Existing shareholders' asset value remains undiminished but influence is diversified - a beneficial result
- 100% supporter ownership isn't necessary or, arguably, the most desirable model. No single shareholder controlling/exploiting the Club for their own benefit is the key reform - similar to Swansea's shareholder agreement
- A diverse share ownership with a mixture of commercial and emotional investors can provide the optimum model of commercial drive with profits reinvested into Club - similar to Bayern Munich