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The demise of the United Season Ticket holder

Thanks to Deltrem on Flickr for the picture, hopefully you don't mind me using this.In the pub on a Tuesday night watching United v Stoke when one of us mentions “5 years ago, we’d have all been there tonight.” A moment’s reflection and it’s with a sadness that this truth is realised.

Sure we didn’t all get to sit with each other – and not all of us were season ticket holders, but it’s true – we would have all been there.

The obvious demise of the season ticket began with the Automatic cup scheme.

For the first couple of years, we put up with it. We were paying for games we couldn’t necessarily attend. My work means I have had to move away – so it’s a day off for me to attend a midweek game. My brother works nights, another mate does rotating shifts etc etc.

But the value of being able to apply for away games – that was something not to give up.

But then that dried up. Why?

Season ticket holders can apply for away games – and those who attended the cup matches got priority. Thanks to the ACS – all the season ticket holders have “Been” to the cup games, or to put it more accurately, all have paid for a seat, populated or not.

So now all Season Ticket holders make the away pot much larger, and as a result, the successful applications became almost non-existent.

December 2009 , losing 3-0 to Fulham was the last domestic away game I attended. It was only the second domestic away game we managed to get in that season – the other being Barnsley in the Carling cup a couple of months earlier.

Then, the final straw. After 5 years of attending every poor Carling cup game including two finals, surely we’d be rewarded with the dream ticket…..Man City, semi finals. Get in!

Except no – we didn’t get them. But we went to Barnsley!? I went to Southend when they only allocated us 1500 tickets (and we got beat!). How can we not get in this?? Just another email that remained unanswered by the club.

This was followed up by not getting in Blackburn away in the league. We ALWAYS got in Blackburn away.

By 2009, the numbers had diminished. Familiar faces were no longer seen at Old Trafford, some of them our mates.

We dropped the season tickets and became just Members. The only thing remaining consistent in the last few years was the European away application process. As members, we still had the right to apply. Having been to the Moscow and Rome finals, we continued as members to enjoy the European campaign.

Despite only being a member, we still managed successful applications.

Take last year’s champions league campaign. Last 16 against Marseille – went there, quarter final against Chelsea – went there. Semi final against Schalke – went there.

And then, breaking news ….

Cup final at Wembley – season ticket holders only. We are not even entitled to apply.

This was almost the final nail in the coffin. But United had one more nail – and this season they’ve used it.

The new season started and sure enough, I’ve been going. Disappointingly, the Euro away applications have now become unsuccessful, the last one being a rejection letter for the Ajax game.

Having been to all the home games, I have now been unsuccessful in my application for the Liverpool game this Saturday. There was still hope though – my application would be entered into a second ballot. That was also unsuccessful.

But I can pick my seat for the game against Fulham in two months time.

There’s only 3 of us who still go. Me, my dad, my brother. The latest rejection has once again stirred the “why do we bother” question and today, 9th Feb, marks the day that United finally managed to kill us off.

I have just received a text message from the club, saying that I can buy a Season Ticket for the rest of the Season, and if I do, it will include a seat for the game on Saturday. This is the game that I can’t attend because my application was unsuccessful (twice).

I write this nearly 30 years since my first ever game – Brighton v United FA cup final replay in 1983. My younger brother – home to Southampton, 1985 his first game

My dad .. well, he saw George Best playing for us

United’s website has a new advert encouraging us to not settle for watching it in the pub. “The Dog and Partridge versus The Theatre of Dreams” it proclaims

The Dog and Partridge it is then…….

Paul (Guest)



  1. LUHG

    10 February 2012 at 16:12

    Was always going to be the case as of 2005. Should have knocked it on the head then rather than the death of a thousand cuts. It means nothing anymore.

  2. Ian

    10 February 2012 at 17:07

    For anyone who doesn’t know, the Dog and Partridge used to be where the Bishop Blaize is now. Only six years ago even the Bishops was operating on matchday at its normal rates, since Bob left prices have massively inflated on matchdays, it’s full of ‘day-tripper’ fans most of whom only go to video Boyley, but somehow there’s still an endless queue at the bar and at the door. RIP The D&P

  3. Opti

    10 February 2012 at 18:04

    Disgusting… awful… glazers!

    Shame, shame, shame!

    Is it too late?

    • Ian

      10 February 2012 at 18:33

      @Opti: Yes. The damage is done with the majority of Reds who have been treated this way despite years of commitment.

  4. Eric

    10 February 2012 at 22:14

    I’m a City supporter, and I still think this is terrible. Stands should always be full of true supporters like yourself. I’m sorry to hear your family and mates have been hard done by.

  5. Robert

    10 February 2012 at 22:15

    great article! hope the topic gets also picked up by other united-blogs … Glazers just seem to be pricing out real supporters … even worse if you consider that you can buy way overpriced tickets for the away-end on so many homepages …

  6. Ole P

    11 February 2012 at 07:53

    Very sad, yet not unique story, I am afraid. Havent checked thoroughly, but I think the Stoke match had the lowest official attendance for a United league match since the ground was expanded to today’s capacity.

    I think United would have evolved like this whoever capitalist was in charge, be it some hedge fund via the stock exchange or someone else. This is mass consumer management; its more expensive for them to repay your loyalty, than to treat everyone the same.

    I live abroad, and resent the anti-foreign attitude I sometimes meet in Manchester (been going over since 87, no glory hunting here), since way under 10 per cent of the seats are taken by people travelling from afar. But I understand it as a reaction to poor treatment of the people who should be encouraged, not just expected, to go to the ground instead of the pub.

    I am afraid more people will just quit going, making SE T2 the only remaining place in the ground with a fair bit of athmosphere.

  7. Red D

    11 February 2012 at 09:19

    Sounds similar to myself.

    Esp. this being unsuccesful in the Liverpool 2nd ballot and then them writing to offer me a ST with a ticket for Liverpool takes the piss.

  8. North Manc Maniac

    11 February 2012 at 22:39

    Fair play for sticking with it for as long as you did, I however seen the righting on the wall when the gimps took over in 2005 and didn’t renew my season ticket of over 20 years.

    Heart breaking what’s happened to our club, look at OT now full of tourist and day trippers carrying bags full of shite from the megawhore!

    United don’t want the likes of us mate they’ve made it very clear.

    They don’t want local lads having a few beers in town and just coming to the game they want people with £200 in the back pocket to service their debt.

    Stinks to high heaven and the spineless FA sit by why this country’s game is raped by foreign carpet baggers.

    My local used to take two coaches one a double decker to every home game and some aways now they cannot fill a mini bus.

    Part of me wants their “business” plan to fail and I’d happily watch United in the 2nd/3rd division if it meant getting rid of the parasites and regaining the club back.

    Nice blog mate

    Love United hate Glazer

  9. Paul

    1 March 2012 at 13:34

    An update for those of you interested. I received a response from the club a few days later. They fail to address any of the issues raised. They tell me that the Liverpool tickets had been “made available from Sponsors”. They also state that they are disappointed that I don’t feel valued as a supporter.

    I have written a letter back – full of fact, and to the point. Hopefully that too is worth turning into an article and this will get some momentum.

  10. Pingback: Business First, Sponsors Second, Fans a Distant Nowhere. Dog & Partridge vs Radio 5 Live, Part 2

  11. Ansser Sadiq

    3 March 2012 at 00:27

    fantastic article, both this and the previous one. is sad to hear that so many locals cannot attend games for whatever reason. however, the raising of ticket prices/other club schemes to sell tickets are crass and business-oriented but necessary. the premier league has become a money making machine. thats what happens when you promote your game to south east asia & other parts of the world and want 100 million television audiences. those same people will travel to OT and happily pay 10x the ticket’s actual value to see one game a year. so its really the downside that comes with supporting one of the biggest clubs in the WORLD. its no longer a local, Manchester football club is it? you cant have the enormous transfer budgets, salary budgets & trophy/success demands without allowing the club to be business-like so that they can make the money to fund all this.

    Yes a lot of the club’s money goes to fund the Glazer’s debt, which is awful. But, the club took this risk when they became a PLC. Again, it was a move that made United richer than any club around (Being a PLC) & helped facilitate the initial era of PL dominance. Every move has a downside. Its not possible to expect United to be the richest club in England / 3rd richest in Europe but still keep those same low ticket prices & not try to make more money. Its just how the world works, as sad as it is in some cases.

  12. martin fox

    1 June 2016 at 04:45

    I live in belfast and got the Man utd bug when i was at started school, 40 years later i own a season ticket but this will be my last year, i work as a porter and cant afford to pay for planes, hotels, for seats in the the UEFA cup and when the FA cup draw is made i pray we get an away draw so i can get to as many league matchs as i can.

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