Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Darren Fletcher for Manchester United (v Urawa Red Diamonds), 17 July 2007
So, following my letter to David Gill about this greedy nonsense I have had two responses. Both have succeeded in making me more angry than before.
Karl Evans is Director of Venue (what that means, Jesus only knows). He assures me that "...we do take a great deal of time and put a great deal of thought into our pricing policies". That made me feel much better, knowing that a double figure hike in ticket prices had at least been carefully considered. He then claims that "the club still offers a cheaper priced ticket than most in the league". I've been keeping an eye on this claim for a while, and it is nothing more than a clever bit of spin by United. A few years back, the general ticket prices were cheap in relation to other top flight clubs. Today, as Karl says, "...admittedly [the club] is in the upper section on higher price tickets". What this means is that the general cost of admission is significantly higher in relation to other clubs that it has been in recent seasons, but United maintain a small amount of low priced tickets (you ought to see how far back/high up you'd be in these seats, incidentally) in order that they can claim the nice PR of having low priced tickets.
"With regard to the automatic cup ticket scheme, the club decided to make this compulsory to increase operational efficiency."
What a load of old cobblers. Not only is this a *completely* different answer to the one provided by David Gill in the other letter I received (see later) but it's also some absolutely groundless management speak. "Operational efficiency" = United make more money.
"In the case where tickets are not required there is always the possibility of utilising the Viagogo ticket exchange system..." I like the use of the word "possibility", there. He also ignores the fact that the Viagogo exchange system adds 20-25% to the face value of the ticket (with the charges involved).
And then we come to the letter from David Gill's office which is as rude as it is abrupt.
"Making the cup scheme compulsory affects around a quarter of the 57,000 Season Ticket holders." (a good argument to start with. The Government should try passing laws that make 25% of the populations life worse under that rationale). "By not including the Cup games in a higher priced season ticket..." (is making cup tickets compulsory not exactly the same thing?) "...the Club has rejected the policy of many other clubs who insist on payment at the start of the season for cup matches that may not happen."
Anyone else know of a club that includes cup matches in a higher priced season ticket that they buy up-front? Please tell me, as I'd love to know.
"This was a business decision made by the Board of Directors and unfortunately there can be no exceptions".
So, let me recap. It only affects 14,000 people (coincidentally, this is the same number as United have claimed are on their waiting list for season tickets. If we all therefore sent them back they'd exactly replace us with the waiting list.) It is for reasons of "operational efficiency" (the club sell all their seats up front). There is an admittance the tickets are expensive in relative terms.
My favourite part of the responses however is this:
"....admittedly [the club] is in the upper section on higher price tickets but considering the quality of the entertainment I think this is reasonable to expect."
How dangerous is it to link the cost of the tickets to the "quality of the entertainment"? So, does that mean we can claim a refund for a dour 0-0 draw? If we finish 8th in successive seasons the cost of tickets is going to fall? If we lose a game do we get a full refund?
I have seen nothing in either of these replies that softens my stance on this - indeed I am less convinced now than I was before. The fight continues....