By Nick Harris
24 March 2010
The Glazer family have frozen ticket prices at Old Trafford for next season, and it is understood that the aim of this strategic move is to ensure renewal levels are as healthy as possible. Manchester United’s owners are known to harbour private concerns that renewals could have dipped drastically with rising prices. That would provide hard evidence the Glazers are alienating their supporters so much that those fans will stop coming to matches.
By freezing ticket prices – against the expectations of many – the Glazers hope for good renewal levels that will instead send out a “business as usual” message. That would take some of the wind from the sails of Glazer-out campaigners being marshalled by the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust and the Red Knights group. The Knights wants to raise funds from an elite core of super-rich fans to lead a supporter buyout, and MUST are rallying fans in their hundreds of thousands behind that campaign.
Today’s news means seats at Old Trafford will continue to cost between £27 and £49 per game, with season tickets priced at £513 to £931. That remains cheaper than the two London clubs that can seriously call themselves United’s rivals on the pitch: Chelsea and Arsenal. Neither is within touching distance in the money earning stakes yet, and the assumption arising from the price freeze has to be the Glazers are not so desperate for revenue that they had to make another unpopular price rise to keep their heads above water.
Given that frozen prices will, rationally, lead to more sales than if prices had gone up, this move by the Glazers, taken to its logical conclusion, will increase the likelihood of a sellout, and therefore decrease visible evidence of any appetite for a boycott. In that sense it could be a shrewd step for them.
On the flip side, MUST are claiming fan power has forced the Glazers’ hand, which it has done in a sense. But if a price freeze leads to more demand, it could be something of a Pyrrhic victory.
Duncan Drasdo, the chief executive of MUST, said: “This clearly demonstrates the power supporters have when they come together as a unified group. We know from sources inside the club that the Glazers are very concerned about the growing Green & Gold campaign which has seen the membership counter on the Manchester United Supporters Trust website www.joinmust.org increase from 36,000 two months ago to 145,000 today.
“The campaign is only two months old but this is an incredible victory at such an early stage and will undoubtedly be a huge boost to supporters. We are now appealing for every executive and season ticket holder to join MUST so we can speak with one voice to the owners and send them a deafening message.
“We are developing an unstoppable momentum and this is just the first significant achievement along a route heading towards an inevitable change in ownership and a better deal for supporters and the football club. Our free online membership is increasing by the hour – imagine the collective power we would have if every season ticket holder joined us.”
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