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....


Mosher said...

I think NUFC potentially overcharge for cup matches for certain season tickets. I've not been in the UK for 16 months so I can't check the old literature, but if I remember correctly we had one category whereby your season ticket was significantly higher in price than the norm but included all home cup matches (or home domestic cups matches).

Sounds like a good deal, but it depends on the draws... potentially for the domestic ones, you could have every match up to the final away from home and therefore get nothing at all for your extra layout. Conversely, you could get loads of extra games.

Still no excuse for ManUre. Their only excuse it to admit "we're greedy as all hell" or "that little ginger American gnome has shafted our finances to the point we have to bend you over backwards and root you deeply to get the money we need".

Paul said...

As someone who has struggled to get to home league games on my season ticket, I've never paid a great deal of interest in how I might give Newcastle more money to watch us lose at home to Chelsea in the quarter finals of every domestic cup competition.

I think they give the option to fans to opt in to a direct debit scheme, whereby you give them your bank details and they send you tickets automatically, and then help themselves to your cash. If you are going to go to the cup games, it doubtless saves you time, but I've no idea how it would work if you couldn't go to one.

On a similar theme does anyone else get a leaflet offering an unsecured personal loan in the same envelope as their season ticket renewal form?

LB said...

United offer an option to fans "to help them pay for their season ticket".

It's called a Manchester United Credit Card.

You see where I am going with this...

Paul said...

At least Newcastle's loan option comes from kit sponsor Northern Rock, rather than the club themselves.

As far as I can work out all the repayment options last for several years - seemingly encouraging people to get into increasing levels of debt as the years go by.

Not sure what the take up is, but presumably there must be a demand because each year the leaflet appears in the envelope.

I think Derby County offer fans a scheme whereby they pay for their next season's ticket throughout the season (a bit like the direct debit TV licence scheme) - which seems a much better plan (although I might have that wrong).

weenie said...

Has this rip off made it into the news? I've only seen mention of it here LB. If not, it should be highlighted, maybe to the Manchester Evening News for starters. What if someone doesn't read the small print and doesn't realise they're going to fork out for all those other matches?

Clare said...

The first letter sounds a bit like the how they justify the FA cup tickets. For the semi final the tickets 'started at £25 offering fans complete value'. What they failed to mention was that approx. 3000 out of 75000 available at old trafford were priced at this...the next ticket cost £45, then £60 then £75 or something quite similar. Added to that, there are no concession tickets except within that 3000 allocation and the situation doesn't quite seem as rosy eh?

I'm wondering just how far people will stretch. For all the deals that the likes of Rovers, Wigan, Bolton, Charlton etc do, nothing is ultimately gonna change until Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea fans etc see a bit of sense and start saying no to these rediculous prices.

ian said...

All Arsenal season tickets include home FA and European ties. And they all cost more than £722. And most of them cost more than £1102 (£722+£380). Coincidentally, perhaps, the waiting list could quite happily fill the old Highbury stadium.

United113 said...

United have to be careful with this. Their argument is that they have so many people on the season ticket waiting list then they can piss whoever they want off as someone will always fill that seat. This is an email i recently received from united:


This is your last chance to secure a Season Ticket for the new season at the Theatre of Dreams. Call now on 0870 442 1999.
Lines are open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday so come and watch the new signings and cheer on the team as we defend our Premier League title.
Full terms and conditions are available online and also please note that it is a requirement to commit to all home cup gamesat Old Trafford, i.e. in the FA Cup, Carling Cup and Champions League. You will need to provide your card details at the time of purchase to ensure your Seaon Ticket is validated.

A small number of tickets are available in the following areas:
North Stand Tier 3 £570
North East / West Quadrant Tier 1 £646
North Stand Tier 2 £722
North East / West Quadrant Tier 2 £722

The capicity hasn't increased so people have not renewed and this showes they HAVEN'T got thousands waiting in the wings...

Mosher said...

I used to get the Northern Rock things as well, but I've not renewed my season ticket (no point - not been in the UK for over 16 months now).

However, I did take full advantage of the Barclaycard offer that came around 2-3 years ago. Apply for the card and use it for your season ticket each year and those purchases are interest free until they're paid off. They're like a separate balance on your card.

OK, so I'm in debt for the two season tickets I bought with the thing but I've used it for nothing else and paid not one penny in interest. Better in my bank for however long it takes to pay off (at minimum payment per month) than in someone else's.

swisslet said...

on the plus side, you've got something like £40m worth of new talent waiting in the wings for the new season....