Old Trafford season ticket holders who have studied the terms and conditions will be well aware of the rules which force them to buy additional tickets for cup matches or risk having their ticket suspended for a future Premier League game. Those who haven’t studied the terms will not be. That is why the club’s letter to season ticket holders, stating that they must purchase a ticket for the Cambridge United replay or they will not be eligible to attend the Sunderland match on 28th Feb, will have come as a surprise to many of the 9,000 fans who received it.
The club’s stance is understandable, but is it justifiable? The case for the rule would highlight the importance of showing League Two Cambridge the respect that they deserve. After all, they did manage to hold the Premier League giants to a 0-0 draw last weekend. Cambridge deserve to play in front of a full house, and they need to know that they are in a game; a half-full stadium will not deliver the atmosphere that either side wants. Also, tickets for United are in high demand, and the club has a serious wage bill to pay. Why not ensure that as many games as possible sell out?
Policy Needs a Rethink
Despite the arguments in favour of the ruling, it could be argued that they are far outweighed by those against it. First, few, including the betting experts at blue sq, expected Cambridge to take United to a replay, and many fans will already have plans or work commitments. Second, the club’s fans should not be made to foot the bill for the club’s profligate spending. There should be funds to keep the club afloat without relying on cup replay revenue. Lastly, if the club is worried about having an empty stadium for the replay, it could offer cut-price admission or give any spare tickets away to deserving causes. There is plenty of interest in watching Manchester United away from their core fan base. It may be too late for the United board to rethink their policy for this season but it should be addressed in future campaigns to stop this situation arising again.