It is famously difficult for fans of some of the biggest clubs in Europe to get tickets, short of camping outside the ticket office for days or weeks in advance the only sure fire way is to get your paws on one of those much sought after season tickets. The prices of which are very high, at Man Utd for an adult the average cost is £666 at Liverpool, £654 and Chelsea a whopping £760.
Not only this but at United fans have been automatically charged for tickets to cup games regardless of whether or not they want them. In some cases, where there has not been enough money in the account, they have then had their season tickets automatically cancelled. Many supporters groups have complained and now the Office of Fair Trading has stepped in.
The OFT has taken action after Manchester United Supporters Trust and the Football Supporters’ Federation complained that many fans were losing their tickets as they didn’t want to buy an individual one for the early rounds of the cup. Having played host to Derby, QPR and Middlesbrough many fans felt that they didn’t want to pay the extra £30 to watch these games. They were not given the option and were charged anyway.
However the OFT have now said that this is not fair and United have been forced to say that they will now be far clearer in their actions, where and why season ticket holders must be relocated for cup competitions and more explanation as to the potential costs of long cup runs.
These results have been welcomed by the Supporters’ Trust however they still do not feel that the club have gone far enough. The controversial method by which cup tickets are automatically bought out of a season ticket holders account will continue and this idea is not solely used by United. Liverpool implement a similar scheme although their system is voluntary and Chelsea implement the same system but do not cancel people’s season tickets if they fail to make a payment.
So why do Man United find it necessary to take this line? The fact is they have huge debts, saddled on the club when the Glazer’s took over in 2005. To recoup the £750m debt the club would need to sell thousands of their most expensive season tickets and with a waiting list reportedly near the 20,000 figure they know there is a guaranteed income.
So with this season drawing to a close and no further word of any change relating to the Automatic Cup Ticket Scheme many fans are hoping that the general ticket prices go down otherwise they will be looking at potentially an extra £380 on top of their current season ticket price.