columnist Rob Facey looks into the price hikes taking place
across British football clubs, in particularly at Man United, and asks what, if
anything, can be done to stop these mega rich owners laughing all the way to
Manchester United fans have accused the Glazers of acting
unlawfully and are to get the Office of Fair Trading to investigate season
ticket prices at the club, after some seats have been hiked up by "up to 60%".
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) have requested
that OFT investigate the way in which the new pricing scheme has been
introduced at Old Trafford over the past few seasons.
"It is our contention
that the club has acted unlawfully," a MUST statement reads, as
reported in the Daily Telegraph.
"We request that the
Office of Fair Trading investigates whether the pricing policy for tickets at
MUFC since 2005 indicates an Abuse of a Dominant Market Position. If
infringements of the 1998 (Competition) Act are found, we request that the OFT
takes immediate steps to stop this abuse.
"Since the takeover by the Glazer family in 2005, Manchester United's
season tickets have increased by an average of just below 60 per cent.
"In addition to this,
United season ticket holders also have to purchase home cup tickets under the
Compulsory Automatic Cup Scheme under these inflated prices."
So, are United fans finally paying the price for the
Or is this a problem that comes with huge takeovers?
Flavio Briatore has priced out a huge number of QPR fans in
the Championship by trying to rebrand the club, a fact that is not lost on
"Although this is an MUFC-specific complaint it is
clear that much of the content of the complaint is relevant to other clubs in
the Premier League and beyond both in terms of ticket prices and terms and
"A Celtic supporter is taking legal action with
regard to Champions League ticket bundling and QPR supporters have also made a
complaint to the Football League regarding price banding and price rises."
But what they expect the sports minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, to do, is another question. Surely
this is what happens when football clubs sell their soul to the devil; the
lifelong fan becomes a second class of customer behind those with money.
sensibly, fans can not expect these businessmen to invest in their club out of
the goodness of their hearts. They are there to make money and if that happens
to be at the cost or irking a few (thousand) supporters then so be it.
A protest is very
admirable, and MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo should be commended for his
brilliant effort, but he must know that once the ball seriously started rolling
way back in 1992 there was no way to stop clubs chasing investment.
Can fans really
expect clubs to change their ways?
The credit crunch
is making it harder for people to travel to the games as it is, so should the
clubs be thinking up schemes of keeping the fans happy, rather than driving
What could United
do in order to placate these agitated fans? Will they really drop their prices?
Or is this more
of a warning to the Glazers that despite their money aiding recent success, the
club still remains the property, first and foremost, of the fans.