MPs shine spotlight on MUFC compulsory ACS

11 02 2015

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."

 

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MUST to present proposals for Football Ownership and Governance reform to MPs

04 02 2015

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

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Parliamentary Questions re Fan Groups and Government from Shadow Sports Minister

08 12 2014

Shadow Sports Minister, Clive Efford has submitted the following PQs re Government consultation with fan groups.

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Strange symphony; report on Southampton v Manchester United 8 December 2014

08 12 2014

Match report by United fan Paul James

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Another MUST victory for MUFC away fans - Spurs increase allocation to 2,631

04 12 2014

United will get 2,631 tickets for the trip to Spurs – a big increase from 1,878 last season.

MUST has been working with Haringey Council, which oversees the allocation-setting process to address safety issues and that has lead to the increase.

In the summer, the council promised to increase United’s allocation so long as there was proof United fans did not cause safety issues at away games so far this season.

MUST has provided proof of this to the council, which has allowed Spurs to open the upper tier section of the away end to reds for the first time in years.

MUST CEO Duncan Drasdo said: “This is news that I am sure fans will welcome and that we are really pleased with.

“We are grateful to the council, who have addressed this issue in a fair way.

“United have played their part too and the end result is that more United supporters will be able to make the trip and enjoy the game.”

He added: "Away fans are the lifeblood of the game and are crucial to creating the special atmosphere that has traditionally made English football so attractive. The Premier League recognise this too so we hope to see continued progress firstly to restoring all full allocations and further to increase them.

"It is in everyone's interests to encourage higher allocations of away fans and I am pleased the right outcome has been achieved in this case."

This is the second victory this week with the earlier announcement that MUST's intervention has resulted in Arsenal changing their policy on 16-18 year old away fans concessionary pricing which will result in a reduction in price of almost £40 for young away fans travelling to The Emirates next season.

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Joy’s sleepless spirit; report on Manchester United v Stoke City 2 December 2014

02 12 2014

Match report by United fan Paul James

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CHEAPER TICKETS FOR MUFC YOUTH AT ARSENAL NEXT SEASON

01 12 2014

United fans at ArsenalAnother small but important victory won by MUST for MUFC fans - following an inquiry to Arsenal by MUST.

Prior to the recent away game at The Emirates, Duncan Drasdo contacted Arsenal to ask why 16-18 year old Manchester United fans were being charged the full adult price £64 (before MUFC away ticket rebate) while Arsenal’s own fans in the 16-18 age bracket were charged a concessionary price of £27.25.

In response Arsenal have agreed to offer the same concession to all 16-18 year old away fans from next season onwards. Arsenal’s SLO said, in a reply to Duncan "We agree encouraging young fans to attend matches is important and we will extend concessions for supporters up to 18 years old to visiting fans from the start of next season. This will ensure we are being fair to all clubs."

So thanks to MUST's intervention that's a saving of almost £40 for a crucial section of our support. It's this 16-18 age group where we tend to lose fans as the costs suddenly shoot up before they have their own source of income to cover this increase. 

Fair play to Arsenal for taking swift and decisive action once it was brought to their attention and thanks to Tim Payton of Arsenal Supporters' Trust for putting us in touch with the Arsenal SLO Martin Brindle.


 


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Light as the breeze; report on Manchester United v Hull City 29 November 2014

29 11 2014

Match report by United fan Paul James

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Occasionally we are asked “What does MUST do for match going fans?”

28 11 2014

The answer is actually "a lot". In fact there is no other trust at any club which has done more over the years - but the truth is we've never been best at communicating those actions.

Below we list just a few of the many initiatives we've led on, in an effort to start to address that we are intending to give occasional updates to Season Ticket holders registered on our list here: http://action.joinmust.org/STH

We're always interested to hear your views - drop in for a chat at our stall on a home match day at 18 Sir Matt Busby Way or get in touch through our website. Your feedback is appreciated.


TRANSPARENCY OF ALLOCATION DECISIONS - WEST HAM & BEYOND
MUST has been campaigning successfully for some time now on MUFC away alloctions and we have won what could be a landmark legal challenge around the transparency around the process of setting away ticket allocations.

This case involved Newham Council's reluctance to explain to MUST why United's allocation at West Ham was reduced significantly to 1900 tickets last season. They refused to give sufficient explanation as to why the decision was made or who was responsible for the decision. It has now been ruled that all the documents that were hidden from us must now be revealed. This makes it much easier for us to challenge reductions and argue for a reinstatement of full allocations. This ruling should also make dealing with any other less than co-operative councils much easier.

INCREASED SPURS AWAY ALLOCATION
This is just one development of many in terms of MUST's work to help secure more away tickets for United fans. We are also confident that, after close cooperation with United and other stakeholders involved in the decision, United will be receiving a significantly increased allocation at Spurs this December. For the first time in many years, United fans could be able to use the upper tier of the away end again. While we await an official announcement on this, the indications we've received point towards a success on this issue.

EUROPA LEAGUE PRICE CONCESSION
MUST has also been working to address some home ticket issues. Although we didn't qualify for the Europa League, it was encouraging that our request that Europa League tickets would be reduced in price by a third was accepted by the Club. That suggests a desire to find compromise which we hope will serve us well in the future.

J-STAND SINGING SECTION
We were also pleased that the Club liaised with us this summer to discuss how to handle the issues arising out the decision to permanently locate the Singing Section in J-Stand. At the point we became involved the decision had already been made to establish the section in J-Stand but we made it clear that we did not support any proposal which involved compulsory relocation of existing Season Ticket holders.

However given the Club had already committed to this decision we worked with them to get the best deal possible for those affected. One outcome from this was the agreement to allow those J standers who did not want to accept the incentives to relocate, to stay at one side within the section. We know that there remains frustration by many fans as to how the singing section issue played out, and we have urged the Club to work with fan groups from the start on these issues in future. If we'd been fully consulted from the beginning we believe we could have helped to avoid these problems and it seems that the Club agrees.

BOOKING FEE ON AWAY TICKETS
We have currently submitted further ticket related requests to the Club. We are hopeful, for example, that the 3% booking fee on away tickets could be removed next season to match the current five pound discount on away tickets which we also recommended that the Club should offer supporters following the last television deal being agreed. While many Clubs have used the £200k away fan pot to redecorate concourses or provide cheaper coach travel, we strongly recommended that United offer a straight discount on all league away tickets to our own away fans, which has been implemented.

SAFE STANDING AND RAIL SEATS
Lastly, MUST remains committed to the principle of choice over safe standing and the introduction of sections of rail seats at Old Trafford according to demand from supporters. We have recently written to the Club for an update on Ed Woodward's public comments that he would look into the issue.

We continue to work on many other issues as well as inidividual problems which fans experience but in the end we're only as strong as our collective membership and we depend on volunteers, membership fees and donations to allow us to campaign for match going fans.

SUPPORT MUST'S WORK
If you'd like to support MUST but you don't live locally enough to our office to come in you can still help support us:

Join as a full member:
http://bit.ly/joinfullMUST

Existing full members can renew here:
http://bit.ly/renewMUST

Or simply make a donation:
http://joinmust.org/donate/

 

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In broad daylight; an anniversary; report on Arsenal v Manchester United 22 November 2014

22 11 2014

Match report by United fan Paul James

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