The Glazers’ controversial Automatic Cup Ticket scheme has apparently reached a tipping point for some as a supporter has decided to sue the club over the unfairness of the scheme.
Over 100 more have joined in to support this disgruntled fan.
Before I get into it let me give a brief idea for those not aware of the scheme.
The Automatic cup ticket scheme is something offered to season ticket holders where fans are expected to buy tickets of cup games too, in addition to the Premiership ones, whether they want it or not.
Now here’s why the whole scheme stinks:
- The scheme expects fans to pay for cup games they wouldn’t be interested to attend
- While that may seem good for some, the point is, you have to pay even for games you don’t attend. Say, games like the ones in midweek where you might be busy with your regular lives or something like that.
- You could choose to sell those tickets, but you can do it only through Viagogo, which is a United approved dealer. And yes, they get a 25% cut.
- All this means an extra Â£500 that you could have otherwise saved.
- Even those who were on the waiting list and were approved to get the tickets were asked shell out those extra bucks to join the ACS or risk losing season tickets.
- Last but not the least, while the idea of the TV deal was meant to keep ticket prices to manageable levels, the Glazers have gone ahead and jacked up the prices by a staggering 14%!
The deal is clearly unfair and blatantly toys with fan loyalty. All the owners need at the moment is money to service the debts, and it doesn’t really matter if it is some rich bloke who buys off the tickets out of a whim and attends the odd game in suits while celebrating goals with passive claps, occasionally standing up, or a really passionate fan who is willing to scream his lungs out from the Stretford End.
The insane part of the whole deal is forcing people into buying something they either don’t want to buy or have no idea how much it’s going to cost them. That kind of a purchase is completely unethical from a business point of view. While ethics may not be in the Glazers’ dictionary, this still is an act that is totally devoid of what one may call ‘reasonable business practice’, and borders on ransom. The Glazers have bought the club with the main idea that with such a vast fan base and loyalty, it doesn’t matter how much they charge, the fans will pay for it anyway. In the process, now, the Glazers are driving away even the middle class hard core support that spend some of their hard earned money on season tickets.
More saddening is the fact that – court case, or no court case – the Glazers might even get away by presenting facts that tickets have been sold out and people are in waiting. Yes, tickets will sell out to outside support and what-not. But things will become noticeable on the pitch sooner or later. Already, last year, Fergie had once remarked that the fans have been rather quiet in the Champions’ League. It will be a waste of 75000+ seats if we cannot make noise as loud as a 35000+ stadium. And it will be a shame, as at the end of the day, it’s the atmosphere that plays a big part in raising team spirit. In crunch games, that could be telling.
While the emotions that accompany things, like spending big in the transfer market and winning the league title, maybe temporary feelings that lift the general mood, the pinch would be felt most to the person who pays money for a games that he doesn’t go to.
Modern economics and free markets teach us that the consumer is king, and a highly priced product might lose out to a lower priced one, with not much difference in quality. Unfortunately as 200percent says in his piece, football and modern free markets don’t always agree. If that was the case then fans would stop supporting United and move over to clubs that have cheaper season tickets.
And that’s what really gets my goat. The Automatic cup ticket scheme seeks to punish those fans who own season tickets by forcing them to pay more. Their only crime is their loyalty. Something the Glazers know fully well. Now, what business would punish a loyal customer? I would think loyal customers to be prize assets of a flourishing business and their likes and dislikes would be taken very seriously. Bad reviews from loyal customers would hurt future prospective customers, meaning bad PR.
But this seems to be the exact opposite with our club. Ticket prices continue to rise, the hardcore fanatics keep getting alienated. We can never say if the blokes suing the club would win or not, but if they do lose, it might set a dangerous precedent to other clubs owners like those of Liverpool, who might be tempted to follow in the footsteps of the Glazers. This could set off a chain in other clubs too and hence render the new TV package ridiculous.
At the end of the day, it’s the sheer number of fans that make up United which might prove to be in the Glazers’ favour and this will see a further rise in prices. Surely, something has got to give, and it is the chilling silence, of the Glazer family on any matters concerning United, that seem to have a bigger voice than the angry fans from MUST.
And that, my friends, is the tragic story of the modern disenfranchised fan. Not just that of United. It is indeed an irony to see television revolutionize football like never before, but stadium atmosphere and the fans that make up that atmosphere will forever remain an integral part of football.
And it is sad that the Glazers don’t realize that.