General

23/08/2020

Next season: What MUST proposed to the Club following fan consultation

Since lockdown began, MUST has been in dialogue with the Club over supporter issues and how we feel they should respond. Our representations have been informed by surveys consulting members and the wider fanbase.
 
For the 2019-20 season that primarily involved making refunds available to supporters and not asking for renewal money too soon – all of which the Club acted on accordingly.
 
While it is for the Club to update supporters on their plans for 2020-21, we wanted our members to know what we have asked of them. We cannot guarantee they will accept all of these proposals and we await with interest the updates which were trailed in their recent email to supporters. 
 
1. Fan uncertainty over renewals
In April we asked the Club to provide confirmation that they would be formally deferring the season ticket (ST) renewal deadline to reassure those anxious about it, and to enable many to make more informed decisions when plans for the new season were clarified. Of course that deadline remains delayed at the present time.
 
2. Finance options for ST renewal
We voiced our overriding concern that there could potentially be a high number of current ST holders whose changed or uncertain financial circumstances may make it difficult, or even impossible, to renew through the normal process. There is already the V12 Finance option but some may be denied that through their temporary circumstances or may not be sufficient.
 
We therefore requested a clear commitment from the Club to ensure that no current ST holder loses their ST due to financial circumstances caused by the CV pandemic. We provided a number of suggestions regarding how that could be achieved:
 
a. Consider introducing a simple direct debit payment scheme for ST holders with the understanding that continued access to games depends on maintaining payments. Defaults should be reviewed sympathetically on a case by case basis.

b. Review the terms of the V12 financing package, including removing finance costs, flexing repayment schedules and possible underwriting of V12 default risks. Simplify the process that currently requires individual applications to V12.

c. For those unable to renew, even with financial assistance, they should be allowed to take a ST “holiday” so their seat is sold match by match next season (perhaps with them getting first option) and they are then given the option to resume ST in that seat the following season (retaining all previous accrued loyalty benefits). Obviously the preference is for everyone to be able to renew, if they wish to, so this would be a last resort and only for those who wish to take up this option.

d. Ensure there is a finance option available to overseas ST holders if DD/V12 is not accessible. A recurring credit card mandate was one suggestion.
 
3. Identify who is (not) renewing ASAP without need for full financial commitment
Allowing Season Tickets to be secured by an initial deposit (or sign up to DD/V12) as an interim measure in the absence of a rescheduled renewal deadline.
 
4. Financial uncertainty and additional future costs of home cup tickets
For next season make the requirement to purchase cup match tickets optional to remove an unknown further liability that amounts to half of the basic cost of the ST as this may otherwise prevent some feeling able to commit. We note that this was requested before there was a plan for socially distanced crowds in 2020-21 which in reality for the foreseeable means no ST holder will have to buy any cup ticket they don’t wish to purchase. However, MUST policy does remain that the home automatic cup scheme should be not be compulsory.
 
5. Socially distanced crowds
This was a key area that MUST surveyed supporters on and provided the results to the Club. We have had input into thinking on:

How tickets should be allocated – strongly seeking assurances that corporates, sponsors and guests should not receive a disproportionate number of tickets versus ST holders, and ensuring any allocation process for tickets is fair and transparent
That any supporter not wishing to attend a game for health or financial reasons could remove themselves from taking a ticket, without any penalty or repercussion

That there is full clarity on how Covid regulations will impact the experience of attending matches covering travelling to and accessing the stadium (including pre-entry checks), providing personal health & contact data, limited stadium facilities and responsibility for issued tickets.

That supporters not wanting the Club to hold onto payment, for the four home games played behind closed doors in 2019-20, could get an instant refund during this period of uncertainty (accepted by the Club).

That full ST renewal sums should not be taken – there is no point fans renewing in full only to not be able to go to games and have to seek refunds.

That a ticket transfer system will be in place for ST holders who do have tickets to be able to notify the Club of others using them, for track and trace reasons, in place of heavier handed options such as clamping down on any transfers.

We await Club decisions on what they will do for next season. However, we remain committed to ensuring fans are treated fairly in regard to their finances and payments to the Club, in terms of ticket policies, in a socially distanced stadium where demand for tickets will be higher than usual, and also in terms of respecting people’s personal situations whether that be financial or health concerns.

6. Access to broadcast matches
It is becoming increasingly likely that reduced capacity matches may continue for much of next season, thus depriving regular match going fans of being able to continue to follow and support the team. This was mitigated, for the conclusion of last season, by extending live broadcasts to all matches through a mix of free to air, subscriber access and free passes provided to season ticket holders. We think that season ticket holders, in particular, should continue to have access to all United matches. We will work with the Football Supporters Association (FSA) to lobby the Premier League and will also make the case to MUFC to make this provision. 
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