Some recent activity by M.U.S.T on behalf of match going fans

27 11 2016

We know we've often not communicated very effectively what we've been working on for match going fans in the past but we intend to improve in this area as well as better consultation with supporters, official branches and other groups. This is a brief, but by no means comprehensive, summary listing of some of the activities M.U.S.T has been involved in recently. 


Home ticketing: 

- While M.U.S.T has not succeeded in reducing home pricing overall we have lobbied hard for, at minimum, ticket prices to be frozen and have successfully pushed for some tickets to be discounted (e.g. Europa League). We also persuaded the Club to allow more flexibility in lending Season Tickets to friends and family - a practice which used to be prohibited in the rules

- M.U.S.T intervened when fans contacted us about forced relocations (e.g. Singing Section and new TV cameras) and we ensured supporters had better outcomes wherever possible - e.g. those supporters who wished to, were able to remain elsewhere in the North East corner despite the singing section or else chose to accept compensation and move. It was a far from perfect outcome but a lot better than that offered prior to our intervention

- M.U.S.T continues to push hard for more discounted youth season tickets to be made available in other parts of the ground and we believe we have every chance of succeeding on this for next season. We are also lobbying to extend the youth ticket upper age range to above 16 years old

 

Domestic aways:

- M.U.S.T pushed the Club to remove away booking fees and to also discount tickets by £5 last season when many other clubs did not use the Premier League away fund to subsidise ticket prices. This discount has now been replaced by the current £30 cap which M.U.S.T played a crucial role in securing as a leading member of the Premier League Trusts group. 

- M.U.S.T has constantly warned the Club that season ticket holders should receive a fairer deal in ballots and this has helped lead to a situation where success rates for standard pot season ticket holders have increased significantly. We continue to monitor this

- M.U.S.T has pushed for increased transparency meaning the Club now publishes a full breakdown of each ballot, how tickets were allocated and success rates. We have also sought information on where returns/ cancelled tickets end up and have received feedback from supporters that random callbacks they receive have drastically increased

- M.U.S.T has reviewed the current collections system with the Club (note that this system was not approved by M.U.S.T - this has been misunderstood by some) and has submitted proposals for improvements while seeking further views from supporters. The Club has accepted in principle that an away ticket exchange (between qualifying ST holders) can be put in place from next season as a result. The Club has also listened to our feedback on bans from non-collections and has agreed that a supporter not collecting a ticket should not immediately receive a 12 month ban as has been the case to date this season

- M.U.S.T has listened to extremely mixed views on this season's away collections varying from those who want checks to end immediately to those who are seeing increased success rates and are happy to see large numbers of touts banned. Finding solutions which please everyone is extremely difficult but we will continue to listen and look to seek compromises which benefit genuine United fans and our much valued, and envied, away support culture

- The Club has committed to working with M.U.S.T to look at new away ticketing processes to ensure longer term loyalty is rewarded. The delay on this is because the Club maintain they need to know who is attending games first (rather than applying) to know who to reward. M.U.S.T will consult widely with fans.

- M.U.S.T intervened when almost 2000 supporters on maximum home credits did not receive FA Cup Final tickets last season. After a period of negotiation, with various solutions suggested by M.U.S.T, all these fans were offered tickets to the match

- M.U.S.T has successfully asked the Club to lay on free coaches to games such as the semi-final and final at Wembley last season.

MUST continues to have regular dialogue with officials at all Premier League opponent clubs before and after each away game to push for higher ticket allocations. This work has also led to United officials becoming much more proactively involved with some valuable allocation gains.


European aways:

- for the last year, for every game after Bruges away, questions and concerns about each fixture have been submitted to the Club by M.U.S.T in advance of their planning visits. A few examples of what this has led to:

  • buses and/or trains being laid on for virtually every fixture
  • a biometric visa machine being made available at Old Trafford ahead of the fixture in Moscow
  • more convenient collection points

- M.U.S.T lobbied the Club regarding the resentment caused by Thomas Cook Sports overriding the credits system for European aways and their ballots now follow the independent travel ballot/credit system.

- M.U.S.T has urged the Club not to impose collection systems where they may be too inconvenient or dangerous; including at Anfield and Moscow as examples.

- After speaking to many regular Euro away fans, M.U.S.T lobbied the Club to change the credit system so it now takes into account matches attended over a rolling last three seasons rather than just one.


Pre-season and friendlies

MUST made representations to the club after the game in China was canceled after fans had traveled. The club offered those fans signed shirts and tickets to a home game of their choice. A small gesture but a good one given it was outside MUFC control.

 

Case work:

- M.U.S.T receives a lot of communication about individual fan concerns which we seek to represent them on (a shame they don’t all choose to join as full members first as it is resource intensive work and membership fee funding helps) 

- last summer alone we spoke to the Club about more than 100 relocation requests for season ticket holders and and more than 90% were resolved successfully

- M.U.S.T (often with special expert help via the FSF) has helped many supporters with banning appeals and have managed to get a lot reversed where they were considered unduly harsh or outright mistakes. We remain committed to improving the official MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions document which we know many fans have issues with and we are consulting supporters on this through surveys


Safe Standing (Rail Seats)

- M.U.S.T have worked on the Safe Standing campaign since it’s inception in the late 90s being members of the FSF team as well as campaigning independently at Club, local and national level with Government, safety groups, Premier League and media . It’s fair to say that no other club fan group has done more on this.

- We have engaged with the Club over the last two years on the case for safe standing. Our advice along with demonstrations we have facilitated for Board Members and senior Club officials at Old Trafford (with the Safe Standing Roadshow), Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Celtic has helped to position them as strong advocates for change as soon as is possible within the political climate.

- We have lobbied the Premier League on this issue at meetings with Richard Scudamore over several years and most recently got assurances, in direct response to our question, that they would consider approaching Government on Safe Standing if member clubs asked them to. That resulted in it appearing on the agenda of the PL AGM and is now being actively explored by the PL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty’s Plenty - but Thirty’s not bad 

M.U.S.T provide a strong presence and a leading role in both the FSF and Supporters Direct PL Trust networks that have collectively secured major gains for supporters in the last two years notably away tickets capped at £30. We now need to work to ensure allocations are not cut and indeed ideally we can secure larger away allocations in future.

 

Structured Dialogue between clubs and fan groups 

M.U.S.T has also taken a leading role in engaging with government to introduce mandatory structured dialogue between Club boards and supporter groups on key strategic and financial issues. We were twice invited to present evidence to the Government Expert Working Group on Supporter Ownership and Engagement and we continue to pursue this through the extensive network of supporters we've built up within Westminster - MPs, Lords, Civil Servants, media, lobbyists etc

We continue to advocate for reform of Football Club ownership and governance with specific proposals on independent directors on Football Club boards and all directors having a legal obligation to put the long term interests of the Football Club before that of the shareholders in the event of a conflcit of interests. We are also continuing to argue for protection of minority (fan/trust) shareholders as well as other mechanisms which will encourage supporter participation in owenership and reduce the chance of majority owners exploiting football clubs for their own benefit.

 

Other national campaigns

Other national campaigns include lower tier away sections at all grounds from next season, improved youth ticket pricing for away fans as well as home,  engaging train companies on services for supporters and a new dialogue established with Sky on kick off times


JOIN US, SUPPORT US

So we have lots to do and only limited resources. However we can be far more effective with the backing of supporters. If you want to help firstly please join as a full member and then, if you are able to, please consider donating your time, expertise or financial support to help power your supporters' Trust


 

 
 
 

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M.U.S.T statement re: Fans’ Forum return

27 11 2016

On Thursday (24/11/16) M.U.S.T was represented at the Manchester United Fans’ Forum meeting for the first time in over a decade following our expulsion in the aftermath of the 2005 takeover of the club. Whilst we do still have concerns about the way the Fans’ Forum is structured we nevertheless recognise that this is a significant public milestone in relations with the Club. Of course our objection remains undiminished to a hostile takeover which placed massive debts on the Club with immense subsequent, and ongoing, costs as well as the compulsory purchase of the shares of thousands of Manchester United supporters.

However it would be illogical to let that prevent us working with the Club where there is an opportunity to do so in the interests of fans and Club and this is what our members have told us consistently in surveys. Therefore we welcome this as a positive step forward.

Throughout the period since 2005 we maintained channels of communication with senior figures within the Club but it was only more recently that dialogue with Manchester United board members resumed when Executive Vice Chairman, Ed Woodward, took over from David Gill.

 

During the last two years we have contributed on a variety of issues, particularly those affecting match going fans, a sample of which we have detailed here. Whilst we have consulted fans extensively, particularly via our United Voice survey, we recognise that participation levels have not been as high as we’d like to see. This is understandable given there was little public acknowledgement from the Club with regard to these discussions so supporters may be forgiven for feeling that MUST would have little influence.

This challenge was particularly great for official (MUSC) Supporters Club Branches who may, understandably, have been concerned that their engagement with M.U.S.T might impact negatively on their relationship with the Club. Fortunately that concern can now be set aside so, while many branches did remain engaged with M.U.S.T, we now hope that participation of other branches in our consultation will grow significantly and we will be making a special effort to reach out to them over the rest of the season.

Of course M.U.S.T does not, and never has, claimed to represent all Manchester United supporters. However we are the biggest supporters trust in the world and the only democratic MUFC fans group recognised by Supporters Direct, The FSF, The Premier League, Government, media and indeed the Club itself. Clearly the greater support and more members (both free e-members and full paid members) we have, the more influence we have and the better we can represent the views of fans so we’d encourage all supporters to join us and help provide a stronger and more representative voice for Manchester United fans than we’ve ever had before.

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MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions and M.U.S.T’s role in recommending reforms

23 11 2016

Given there has been some misunderstanding about M.U.S.T's role with respect to the recently published MUFC Ticketing & Membership Sanctions Document, and also the recent away ticket checks, it is worth providing some clarification. The document can be downloaded here.

Download the MUFC Ticketing and Membership Sanctions Document here

M.U.S.T has been lobbying the Club for some time to be more transparent about the penalties that apply to supporters who contravene rules affecting match going fans. It's worth noting that this did not cover the recent rules and sanctions affecting away ticket checks which we are now also consulting supporters and branches on. When that consultation is complete we will be going back to the Club with those views.
 
Our role on Ticketing & Membership Sanctions did not at any point involve developing new rules or penalties but rather asking the Club to publish their existing policies so that M.U.S.T and all fans were fully aware of the current state of play. 
 
During that process M.U.S.T did raise concerns about many of the sanctions in terms of severity and appropriateness but in the end, of course, it is the Club's decision whether it accepts those points. However we do no see that as the end of the exercise by any means and clearly the more support we have from match going fans and branches, the more influence we can have. Now we do have a published sanctions document it is possible for us to consult with supporters and then feedback views to the club with regard to how fans feel these rules and sanctions should be reformed. That process has already started with a new survey being opened to match going supporters ahead of the West Ham game this weekend.
 
Furthermore, having helped hundreds of individual fans over recent years, M.U.S.T also pushed for a formal appeals procedure with a panel to sit regularly to consider these appeals. That appeals panel is now operating and, at our request, the club has agreed in principle to take on additional independent panel members so we are now seeking supporter views on who might be best placed to serve in that role.
 
Amanda Jacks, Case Worker for the FSF, (who have a representative as an independent panel member) recently praised M.U.S.T's work in developing these more transparent procedures and the consultation we are now undertaking to draw up proposals for reforms. Fans at all clubs are often critical of their own fan groups but it's fair to say that M.U.S.T is perceived as a leading fan group by other groups at the national level
 
She said "We've worked with many fans' organisations and the FSF views M.U.S.T's approach as a case study for fan groups at other clubs who are trying to address similar issues with opaque or Draconian sanctions and appeals systems." 
 
"I'm aware that the new appeals process is likely to be received with a degree of cynicism but I can assure supporters that each case is given proper and thorough consideration.   Whatever its flaws, at least fans know exactly where they stand which is a vast improvement on an arbitrary process that doesn't offer the opportunity for a case by case panel adjudication.  We'd encourage supporters to participate in M.U.S.T's consultation survey."

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M.U.S.T meeting with MUFC

13 10 2016

M.U.S.T attended a meeting with the Group Managing Director and senior Manchester United staff on Wednesday afternoon to discuss various issues affecting match going fans, particularly focusing on ticketing.

The Club shared its objectives on away ticketing policy and M.U.S.T responded with its own views and concerns, having requested comments from supporters over recent days. We now plan a much more comprehensive consultation of supporters.

The Club confirmed objectives are to increase away allocations and to get more tickets into the hands of qualifying Season Ticket holders by addressing touting and employing various other measures.

M.U.S.T suggested that an additional stated objective should be to recognise the highly valued away support for the team and the unique culture and community that has built up over decades to generate what is widely acknowledged as the best away support in league and to ensure this is considered in any future policy decisions. The Club agreed this would be beneficial, and is extremely proud of the atmosphere generated by away fans and reiterated there was no desire to diminish this.

With regard to sanctions, M.U.S.T told the Club that being banned for non-collection of a ticket is unnecessarily harsh if there is no proof of touting or other illegal behaviour. As such, the Club will immediately propose to Fans Forum members that non-collection of tickets at an away ground should result in that supporter being asked to collect any future away tickets, for the rest of that season, rather than immediately being banned from applying.

While M.U.S.T agreed that raising allocations and supporter success rates in ballots were both important, we also discussed at length the bad feeling that is being caused by supporters being stopped from passing tickets to friends at face value; something that has been a tradition amongst fans for many years and has helped to nurture a community and camaraderie which is a key element in United’s much envied away support.

As such, when aligning the Club’s objectives alongside M.U.S.T’s, the following conclusions were reached:

  • The Club should continue to prevent touting which has helped to raise success rates in the standard pot
  • The reassignment of tickets between friends, who were entitled to apply in the ballot anyway, should not be deemed as an offence if the Club is notified in advance on a limited number of occasions per season

M.U.S.T will be consulting with fans and working with the Club to agree on a system from next season which adopts these principles; essentially leading towards what we hope will be a limited away ticket exchange system. We understand that this will not go far enough for some supporters and may go too far for others, but believe it is a very positive step to offer fans more flexibility than this season, whilst also respecting the Club’s aims to tackle reduced allocations and limit touting.

Supporters have raised many other suggestions which can be fed into these conversations (e.g. groups of friends being allocated seats together and whether European away games should be taken into consideration for domestic away ballots) over coming months.

We agreed to review the Sanctions document and feed back fans’ views to club.

Aside from away ticketing issues, the following were also discussed:

  • Both M.U.S.T and the Club fully support the exploration of the implementation of Rail Seating sections and the Club is carrying out feasibility studies on this
  • Youth ticketing for home games is also a priority and the Club will look at M.U.S.T's proposals to offer more youth season tickets in other areas of the stadium in addition to the Family Stand and SAF Stand Tier 3. 

M.U.S.T welcomes ideas from supporters on all of these issues and we have proposed that we should develop a supporter consultation exercise in co-operation with the Club on key issues which have been identified. Issues we would like this to cover (other suggestions welcome) include:

  • future away ticketing changes - how Club can best reward loyalty without becoming a closed shop for others while maintaining the unique fan community & culture that makes our away support special
  • making more youth season tickets available in different sections of the stadium & more generally encouraging independent young supporters. Also addressing the 16-21 age group where we risk losing young fans in the transition from junior to adult
  • how future changes to the stadium (e.g. expanded disabled section) will affect supporters and could best be handled
  • preservation of the valued community, culture and traditions of our fanbase established over decades of dedicated support
  • a review of supporter sanctions and associated procedures - while the new transparency is welcome some of the penalties, and priorities, have raised concerns amongst fans

Any Season Ticket holders who would like to ensure they are included in the proposed consultation can register here and we will ensure you receive notification 

 

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M.U.S.T to meet Manchester United to discuss fans’ away ticketing concerns

08 10 2016

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Throughout this season M.U.S.T has been talking to MUFC supporters who travel to away games about the collections and other changes which have been introduced. We have spoken to many who are strongly opposed to any attempts to stop fans swapping tickets at face value but also to season ticket holders who have noticed their chances improving in ballots as a result of fewer applications.

We are concerned by individual cases of harsh bans being handed out to match going fans who haven't tried to sell tickets at above face value and are continuing to engage with the Club about the need for balance between their desire for checks and the importance of treating supporters fairly.

Meetings were already being scheduled with the Club on these issues before the recent spate of media articles, and we welcome any constructive thoughts or views from supporters which will be fed back to the club.

If you have any comments please post them in the COMMENTS SECTION below






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MUST end of season report 2015/16

04 08 2016

MUST has today published its end-of-season report covering away ticketing and safety issues for 2015-16.

Throughout the season, our committee member Dale Haslam, along with several other M.U.S.T colleagues, worked with United, other clubs, police and various other authorities to campaign for the highest number of tickets possible for United fans attending away games.

In publishing this report, we hope fans will get an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes and the approach that clubs and authorities take towards United fans.

This work will continue throughout the upcoming season and we welcome your feedback on the report. You can add comments to this post.

You can download the report here: http://bit.ly/MUSTeosreport2016

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Vocal Section Trialled for Community Shield

30 06 2016

After the FA Cup Final many fans voiced opinions about the poor atmosphere in the United sections and the contrast with the vocal section created by the Crystal Palace fans behind the goal at their end of the ground. In response M.U.S.T representatives were amongst those who supported a fan led initiative to encourage vocal fans to come together and create more of an atmosphere at Wembley for the Community Shield. The request has been accepted by United to trial an area behind the goal. Those wishing to participate in this vocal section will be able to select that option when they make their application. We would like to thank the club for their cooperation and swift response to act upon this request & also consulting the range of fans including members of the Fans Forum and others who have been involved in the discussions.

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More information coming out of Newham Council SAG re MUFC allocations at West Ham

19 05 2016

Via MUST Committee Member Dale Haslam (@redsawaynew)

More documentation came through today relating to the comical dealings at Newham Council and West Ham over MUFC ticket allocations.

Of interest is that Sheila Roberts takes it upon herself to represent West Ham's safety advisory group, despite not being chairwoman.

She's the enforcement manager, but, officially, it gives her no right to comment in an official capacity about SAG matters.

However, Roberts wrote to the Met Police expressing "concern given the previous behaviour of MUFC supporters at recent games."

Another SAG document alleges our fans arrived late at Sunderland and verbally abused stewards. Sunderland head of safety has no knowledge.

The SAG never adequately explained what this 'previous behaviour' was. And Roberts's efforts to dock us tickets got even more desperate.

She claimed fans were more likely to misbehave at the FA Cup match as the threat of a banning order was empty due to Upton Park closing.

It's concerning that a council worker who insists on sticking her nose into football matters has such a poor knowledge of banning orders.

Not only did we still have to play them in the league, banning orders can apply at multiple grounds and for years. What utter nonsense.

Much more to come on this one. Will hopefully result in a major overhaul of Newham Council's lousy practices related to allocation setting.

Just a reminder of the background. Before the FA Cup game, the SAG met and everyone agreed 5.5k was fair, yet it mysteriously fell to 4,900.

Vague reference was given to bad behaviour at recent games with no evidence. SAG chairman Nick Bracken has been silent on the issue.

The league game allocation - cut by 1k - was set based on reds' behaviour in the cup game - completely inconsistent to normal practice.

League game allocation should have been determined by last season's league game. Police report had no concerns about MUFC fans last year.

 

Marcus Rashford signed and framed No. 39 shirts

Available here: http://bit.ly/Rashford39

Marcus Rashford signed shirts

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Abandoned Bournemouth match - refunds

17 05 2016

Firstly we applaud the club's decision to refund all tickets for the abandoned game although we understand this does not apply to executive club members which is especially unfair on those who cannot attend the rearranged game tonight.

We are also asking the club to recognise case by case requests for travel costs incurred by fans and suggest supporters adversely affected should contact the club on this. Clearly this particularly impacts on those who cannot attend the rearranged fixture and those who have had to reschedule flights and extend hotels or indeed repeat their entire journey.


2016 FA Cup Final T-Shirts

Available here: http://bit.ly/FACup2016Tshirt

2016 FA Cup Final T-shirts

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FA Cup Final tickets - MUST lobbied for loyal fans to be rewarded

17 05 2016

Of course it is true that with huge excess demand over supply you are never going to be able to provide a ticket to everyone who wants to go but MUST has been working all out lobbying so that, as far as is possible, loyalty is fairly rewarded.

- MUST fully supports the principle of as many tickets as possible going to the most loyal fans

- We were instrumental in pressuring the club to ensure all ST holders on 10 credits had a ticket

- We don't believe all on 10 credits would have received a ticket in the second ballot without our intervention and pressure which led to the club freeing up considerable numbers of tickets for that second ballot compared to their original plans

- We have continued liaising with the club about the several hundred ST holders on 10 credits who did not get a ticket due to making their application along with people on fewer than 10 credits; they now have the option to split their original applications and be first in line for expected returned tickets. Anyone in this situation should contact the ticket office


Marcus Rashford signed and framed No. 39 shirts

Available here: http://bit.ly/Rashford39

Marcus Rashford signed shirts

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