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PRESS RELEASE: No festive season cheer for Manchester United away fans

No festive season cheer for Manchester United away fans

- West Ham reduce FA Cup allocation and won't say why.

- Wigan take away more than 1000 tickets in away end to sell as corporate packages.

- Thomas Cook sell off Madrid tickets first-come first-served over the heads of loyal fans who travelled to group stages.

- Communication with fans reaches an all time low over these decisions.

- MUST, along with the editor of Redsaway.com, call for councils, safety advisory groups and clubs to have to consult fan groups on key decisions.

Manchester United fans have been incensed by a number of recent decisions affecting allocations and pricing at away games around the festive period.

First, the allocation for the FA Cup match on January 5th at West Ham should be set at around 5,300, the same as it was for the Carling Cup game in the same stadium a few seasons ago. While West Ham, Newham Council or Manchester United have not formally announced what the allocation is, we believe it to be under 4,500. No reason has been given by any party for the reduction and no liaison with fan groups was sought by any party in advance of the decision being made. Minutes from the local safety group will not appear online, and amazingly a request under The Freedom of Information Act to tell us the allocation does not need to be answered until weeks after the match is played!

Secondly, Wigan Athletic have decided (not for the first time) to treat Manchester United fans differently to those of all other clubs. Instead of offering the usual away allocation of over 5,000 tickets behind one goal, the club has decided to lower this allocation to less than 4000 and then fill the rest via their own website (rather than via Manchester United) to away fans paying £125 each to have a meal and ticket combined. We believe this to be unjustifiable and believe that any away fan in the stadium, let alone in the away stand without segregation between them and the official visitors section, should be ticketed directly by Manchester United. It is a precedent that is now being copied by other clubs when Manchester United visit, as seen at Bolton and Fulham last season too.

Thirdly, the exciting tie with Real Madrid has caused more ticketing issues. The club's official travel partner, Thomas Cook Sport, have already put five plane loads of tickets on offer to be bought by any member or season ticket holder of Manchester United on a first-come first-served basis. These expensive trips do not give priority to fans with loyalty credits from previous games in the Champions League, unlike the club's own ticket ballot which will prioritise fans who made the long trips to support United in the group stage games in Cluj, Braga and Istanbul. Thomas Cook and Manchester United have always refused to share information on how many tickets Thomas Cook are entitled to, sometimes leading to bizarre and unfair policies such as members getting a Champions League final ticket for Wembley in 2011 by buying a package, whilst over 20,000 season ticket holders were not even permitted to apply for a ticket via the club. It is time that Manchester United and Thomas Cook agreed to have a coherent and transparent system of allocating tickets, so that Thomas Cook can still fill up their trips but giving priority first to those who have accrued loyalty credits recognised by the club.

MUST CEO Duncan Drasdo said:
"The theme that remains constant through many away ticketing decisions is the lack of transparency and information given to fans. We are rarely part of the decision making process on away ticketing issues, despite being the people most affected by decisions. More safety groups, councils and football clubs need to change their stance and liaise with supporter groups when discussing safety, allocations and policies. We are calling on the FA and Premier League to help set up a new framework for away ticketing decisions that ensures fans are consulted in the future. Evidence suggests that, when fan groups are consulted, the problems that safety authorities have raised are far more likely to be solved."

FSF caseworker Amanda Jacks said:
"The FAs Crowd Management Good Practice Guide states that there is plenty of evidence to suggest fans behave better when they feel included. Supporter groups all over the country are keen to be included as part of the solution rather than just seen as the problem. Fans are the largest stakeholders in the game and wed like to see more proactive communication between the authorities and fans."


MUST - the Manchester United Supporters Trust

Reds Away

MUST is the independent Manchester United Supporters' Trust, a not-for-profit organisation with 180,000 members stretching around the world

Our Inspirational Dream
Manchester United FC owned by the fans and run for the fans.

Our Greatest Imaginable Challenge
To create the opportunity for all United fans to share in the ownership of their club, inspiring the participation of at least one million supporters.

MUST is the independent Manchester United Supporters' Trust, a not-for-profit organisation and an Industrial and Provident Society registered with the Financial Services Authority (30024R) under the name I-MUST Limited with offices at MUST, Trafford House, Chester Road, Stretford, MANCHESTER M32 0RS

MUST - www.joinmust.org

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