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Imusa call for season ticket boycott

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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FSF affiliate the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association (Imusa) has written to all its members and asked them not to renew their season ticket as a collective two fingers to the Glazer family’s ownership.

Imusa believes that a significant drop in season ticket sales, and subsequently cash flow, will force the Glazer’s to listen to potential buyers such as the Red Knight consortium. The group acknowledges that not all fans will be willing to take such a move but say those supporters can also play their part by waiting as late in the day as possible before renewing. The club’s season ticket deadline is Sunday June 13th.

Of course clubs don’t just rake in the cash from season ticket sales, in the modern era everything sold in stadiums turns in a handsome profit. Suspend your disbelief (it’s tough we know) but those burgers don’t really cost £3 to buy in wholesale and we’ve heard a rumour that replica kits don’t cost much to manufacture either. Certainly not £40, put it that way. As a result Imusa have also called on fans to boycott all food, drink, and merchandise where possible.

The move will inevitably draw criticism from some quarters as a successful campaign by definition equals lower income for the club, which inevitably leads to a smaller transfer budget. Many United fans would however point out that the transfer budget is being reduced anyway due to interest payments on the club’s £720m debt. Debt and interest payments that wouldn’t exist if the Glazer’s leveraged takeover had never happened. The Glazer’s are doing such damage to the club anyway that extreme measures are needed to get rid.

“Quite simply the bond prospectus set down in very clear terms how much the Glazers planned to take out of the club until 2017. As far as we’re concerned they can’t take out what isn’t there. If you still want to go to games join the One United scheme and buy on a match-by-match basis. And don’t buy any pies in the ground!” said Imusa chairman and FSF national council member Mark Longden.

There is also an assumption by those outside Old Trafford that the club has a huge season ticket waiting list and is therefore immune to such protests. If one fan boycotts another will gladly snap up their season ticket, right? Well no, actually, that might not be the case.

Imusa claim that the majority of games fail to sell out now and tickets are often available elsewhere, often at less than cost price. And while season tickets do allow you to apply for away tickets the demand is so high you’re merely paying through the nose for the privilege of entering a ballot you probably won’t win. “The reality is that the only actual advantage to having a season ticket these days is that you get to sit in the same seat each week,” say Imusa.

While many will brush that off as anecdotal evidence which doesn’t prove anything Imusa aren’t the only ones doubting United fans’ appetite for season tickets. Even the club’s own financial advisers JP Morgan are getting in on the act. “We note that 17,000 people are on the waiting list for Manchester United season tickets,” say the investment bank. “However, this somewhat overstates the demand as we note that no deposits have been paid and many seek specific seats in the stadium.”

Furthermore a Virgin Money poll back in March claimed that six out of every 10 United season ticket holders were considering not renewing their season ticket. A combination of fury at the Glazers’ debt, ever-increasing prices, the sale of Ronaldo, and lack of will to purchase Carlos Tevez looks to have tipped many over the edge. Supporters aren’t daft and know that increasing prices and player sales are intimately linked to debt payments.

If the Glazers thought fans’ discontent over the obscene debt lumped on the club, which manifested itself in the Green and Gold protest, would eventually dissipate they look sorely mistaken. We’re sure this isn’t the last we’ll hear on it either.

UPDATE – United fans can also make their feelings known by writing to their prospective MPs courtesy of this very clever link from the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust.

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