General

06/01/2020

MUST calls for greater consultation with supporters on allocations and safety issues

In the light of the decision to cut away allocations on safety grounds for both legs of the League (Carabao) Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Manchester City, MUST calls on authorities to involve supporters in consultation on all decisions that impact on them.

Supporter groups from other clubs have also been denied input into important safety and operational decisions that impact both home and away supporters at higher risk matches. Good practice does already exist, not least in our own previous working relationship with our club and with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), and with a few local Safety Advisory Groups, but this good practice needs to become standard, meaningful and sincere. Cutting allocations can have safety implications and these decisions should require input from all stakeholders. Supporter representatives should automatically be invited to offer their important insight on all decisions that directly impact on supporters. We believe it is time for the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA) and/or government to consider making this a mandatory requirement.


Background
Supporters will be aware that on Christmas Eve our clubs announced a ‘reciprocal agreement’ to limit the away ticket allocations at each ground to a maximum of 3,000 (realistically around 2,800 for United at the Etihad), significantly lower than the 10% of ground capacity set by the EFL (5,500 at the Etihad and 7,300 at Old Trafford), supposedly ‘in the interests of safety for all supporters’. MUST issued an immediate statement condemning the decision and noting in particular the absence of consultation with supporter groups that has previously operated effectively for our derby and other high-risk matches. City supporter groups issued similar statements. 

A key risk that we identified was the likelihood of away supporters, denied seats in the reduced away sections, seeking tickets among home supporters. We would of course have raised that major risk proactively had we been consulted. 

It has subsequently been reliably reported that both clubs are selling blocks of tickets through their own authorised commercial partners with no restrictions. You can read about that here. In addition, in the last few days, tickets for Tuesday’s match through United’s own Ticket Office have also been made available to any applicant including those not registered as Official Members with a previous purchasing history. These decisions make a mockery of supposed concerns about supporter safety. 

It is also worth noting that this weekend has seen the 3rd round of the FA Cup, where competition rules require an away allocation of 15% of ground capacity. This higher requirement has been met for the Merseyside derby at Anfield and for Leeds supporters at the Emirates (Arsenal). It is legitimate to ask why LFC and AFC are confident in their ability to manage these larger allocations safely but MUFC and MCFC are not.  

We have yet to hear or see any response from either club to the concerns that have been raised. MUST has however logged relevant questions for the next official Fans Forum due at the end of January.  We will also raise the issue at our own meeting with club directors also due this month. In the meantime, we hope that tomorrow’s match passes safely.

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