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