In February this year MUST wrote to the club setting out a number of ideas for improving match atmosphere and developing the stadium. You can read what we said here
We proposed some radical proposals to Reclaim the Stretford End primarily by relocating part of the Family Stand and the Executive (International) Suite, and using the freed space to accommodate vocal, more youthful supporters with lower ticket prices and the opportunity for friends to be grouped together.
The club’s announcement this week of New Plans to Enhance Stadium Atmosphere, providing a new vocal section initially comprising 1200 seats is a significant step towards that vision and we welcome it warmly, as we did the earlier announcement of the introduction of cheaper young adult seats in West Lower as seats become available.
Dedicated family areas are key to building the next generation of our support, although the current facility is outdated. Creating improved relocated facilities for families, while releasing current capacity in the Stretford End through age related churn and limited seat moves within the section is a real win-win. The extension of youth season ticket prices to areas outside of the family stand that MUST previously lobbied successfully for will also help.
We also acknowledge the great work of MUFC Red Army in rejuvenating J Stand/United Road and will continue to work with them, and any other groups, in partnership with the club to finalise plans for delivering this further step change and its subsequent expansion in the best and fairest way.
We also proposed Reclaiming the Scoreboard (East Lower), in part facilitated by the relocation of disabled seating to better locations in the stadium, recognising that this may need to be a longer term design solution. So we also welcome this week’s separate announcement on Revised Accessibility Plans. It is regrettable that a number of supporters have already been moved from their lowest price East Lower seats, and we call for the Club to consult affected fans and for those who may now want to return to be given the opportunity where/when possible. Prior to that their price subsidy should be retained.
These extensive changes to stadium configuration will benefit supporters as a whole as well as the team, but they do have an impact on individual supporters whose current seats are affected. Mandatory moves to different areas of the stadium should be avoided, although the aims could be met by an incentivised voluntary approach. However we do urge supporters to acknowledge the need for seat specific moves within a section so that groups of friends and like minded supporters can be accommodated to maximise stadium atmosphere and 75,000 supporters can watch and support the team in line with their different needs and preferences.
Stadium development is an ongoing project and MUST will continue to lobby and engage for further changes as opportunities arise, but this week’s announcements are a huge step forward, and are testament to the benefits of dialogue and engagement with supporters for which the club should be complemented.
We encourage all supporters to join MUST - whether as a free Lite member, or preferably, show your support as a Match Going or Full Member. Join here: join.imust.org.uk
This will allow us to better represent fans’ views in dialogue with the Club and where necessary take up individual members’ cases.