When Goal.com reported that Manchester United had sold just 18,000 of 56,000 season tickets a week before last Sunday’s renewal deadline, the green & gold movement appeared to have impacted the Glazers’ bottom line in the starkest manner – a mass supporter boycott on an unprecedented scale.
With the deadline now passed Manchester United is refusing to announce how many holders have renewed amid reports that, despite a late rally, thousands of United season ticket holders have failed to renew this summer.
Everything is as it always is, is the message – quite literally – emanating from United HQ today but anecdotally at least not only are ticket sales well down on previous years but the club has already begun re-selling tickets to those fans willing to take up the slack.
Indeed, fans reported today being offered tickets in large blocks, seat changes – again in blocks – or executive seats in popular areas as the ticket office worked overtime to reduce United’s season ticket shortfall before the start of the domestic season on 14 August.
Reports that non-renewers have already been sent text messages by ticket office also emerged today. Previously the sales department has sent executive seat holders aggressive letters urging immediate renewal.
With the deadline passed on Sunday the club is likely to announce first an extension and then offer new tickets to its ‘waiting list’ – effectively an email and mobile number marketing database – up to an including the first day of the new season.
While the Soviet-esque secrecy surrounding season ticket sales this summer means even Old Trafford ticket office managers, according to one Rant source, do not have full details on current numbers, there is little doubt that the Glazer family’s overactive PR machine would shout the numbers from the rooftops through a vuvuzela had a sell-out been achieved. Or anywhere near it for that matter.
United’s communications department is right in one sense though. Everything is as it always is. Thousands of fans who have chosen to walk away this summer join many more who have done so over the past five years. Once at 67,000 with a similar number purportedly on the waiting list, the Glazers huge price rises have ensured few season tickets sold and the waiting list evaporated.
This process has taken place organically with no United supporters group willing to call for an all-out boycott, although the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) has long urged fans to visit Old Trafford only on a match-by-match basis. It’s a message now also echoed by the Manchester United Supporters Association (MUST).
Ticket sales are important though and not just in the phony PR war that has waged since March. The Glazer family’s desire, as detailed in the January prospectus, to remove significant dividends from the club is materially affected by both cashflow and meeting certain profit targets. It’s a scenario that offers United fans significant power as customers.
Indeed, United supporters are, arguably, undergoing a transition. From a body that supported the team – and therefore the club – no matter what to a realisation that being the best United supporter may indeed mean withdrawing certain forms of custom to shorten the Glazer family’s regime at Old Trafford.
Those who left to form FC United of Manchester in 2005 will understand the painful decision made by many supporters this summer.
Inevitably, United will sell many of those tickets not taken up by the current season ticket base and a positive spin will of course be spun by those responsible for it at HQ. It misses the point. Supporters, no matter how passionate, are now far better educated about the Glazer family’s impact on the club over the past five years.
Despite speculation no doubt encouraged by the club – it’s repeatedly daily on the official website after all – United has made no attempt to buy off supporters in the transfer market this summer. After the family has taken a £70 million dividend at some point later this summer there really isn’t any money left.
It’s just one of the many reasons there’s now much silence on the ticket sales front.
34 thoughts on “How many season tickets did United (not) sell?”
I hope OT is empty next season.
Even though I love the team, the manager etc. and wish they get the support they deserve, I don’t want any money going to the Glazers deprived wallets.
This is exactly what needs to happen. We need to support our club but in no way letting the Glazers be certain about the amount of cash flow they will receive.
I read the comment somewhere, “But I don’t get how my £780 will make the difference, (I assume to the Glazers clique) or even if 6,000 other Reds with me in the Stretford End done the same.”
It is quite simple math: 6,000 x £780+ = £4,680,000.oo+
Now that is serious money and = US$6,807,757.75+ and that is only counting should season ticket holders not renew their massively over priced season tickets!
Add to that the possible, hopefully probable ‘stay away’ fans who refuse to support the thieving Glazer’s money grab, like the recent ‘lucky dip’ where ALL members of the Glazer Mob took out over 10 milliuon quid each, just because they wanted to.
Add to that a (hopefully) 100% loss of sales from the United ‘shop’.
So lets all get real.
LET US NOT RENEW OUR SEASON TICKETS, DO NOT ATTEND ANY HOME GAMES AT OLD TRAFFORD THIS SEASON (Yes we can still give the team, OUR MANCHESTER UNITED, support at away games)
DEFINITELY DO NOT BUY UNITED KITS FROM THE UNITED SHOP.
INSTEAD SHOW YOU ARE A REAL MANCHESTER UNITED FAN AND HELP GET RID OF THE GLAZERS.
IT WILL ONLY TAKE ONE YEAR, OR POSSIBLY EVEN LESS, OF OUR PERSONAL SACRIFICE(s) TO GET RID OF THE THIEVES!
Unite Against Glazer For The United Future!
Look, £4.5m is nothing to a family with £1.1bn debts. The club has £100m in cash reserves. The £4.5m is a minute amount. The club could give away any non-renewed season tickets free and not even notice financially. I doubt whether protesting non-renewers will add up to anywhere near the figures you say. A few hundrd maybe. There will always be some that can’t afford to renew and they’ll probably outnumber the protest boycotts. Anecdotally, all the guys who sit near me in N2405 said they’d boycott but when it came to it they’ve all actually renewed. I wanted to get a couple more tickets near me for the family but the section is ‘sold out’. The only tickets they could offer yet were in NE or NW quadrant sections. The only people who seemed to be calling for a boycott were the ones who boycotted years ago and they’ve had no effect on the club at all by boycotting. To me it was always a futile gesture. But if I get another couple of STs then I’ll be happy.
All you are thinking about IS YOUR SELF, not the team. it is your right to do what you want but do not call yourself a Manchester United Supporter, you are a Glazer Family Supporter first and foremost.
I’ve waited for ages to get any season tickets. but now I’m getting email after email offering me to buy tickets! I know why they’re available therefore will never buy them. one more thing in reply to the guy who says they’re billions in the red so few million wont cos any harm! 100% wrong. when you have financial problems every penny(million) counts. when you have no money, the last thing you want is less money coming in!
had 6 season tickets in the family but we have let 3 go after being told they had given our seats to someone else .
I guess I’m just too passionate about my team, which was debtless until Glazer bought the club on debt. How can what they paid for the club become United’s debt. ALL OF THE DEBT IS GLAZERS, NOT THE UNITED FANS & SUPPORTERS.
Look how the Glazer boys have decimated the Buccaneers.
We have become the Glazer Mob’s cash cows being ‘milked’ for every penny they can get.
SEAson ticket prices are the highest in the E.P.L, what does that tell us all?
Unite Against The Glazers For Unite’s Future. It is in your, and my, hands!!!
Very well written article. With exact renewal figures unclear, I hope you are correct that people are now getting the message and they are well down.
After all, if there are those that feel they cannot give up entirely whilst the Glazers are in charge, at least they can pick and choose what games to attend denying the Glazer family that upfront cash they desperately crave.
I unconditionally support United and have done despite all of the owners we’ve had. That won’t change and I know that more people are like me than like the author. The job of a supporter is to support the team. It’s not to damage the team in some misguided thought that it will help.
SUPPORT THE TEAM. They don’t deserve this nonsense. They’ve done nothing wrong.
My opinion but based on the documents I’ve seen – not renewing may well be a small drop in the financial ocean if its in the low thousands but every penny is a penny the Glazers don’t take out of the club. Let’s be clear, the business plan as outlined by the bond prospectus really doesn’t leave any money for ‘United’ – transfers, improvements to Old Trafford, price cuts etc.
Ed, that’s naive nonsense. The Glazers will take out the same amount of money despite any boycott. The loser will always and inevitably be the club who will have less money to spend on players, wages, backroom staff wages, maintenance or other things. The club suffers, not the Glazers. The business plan relies upon success on the field, so the Glazers know that they have to invest there, so the brunt of any possible loss of revenue from tickets will be other United staff. Expect redundancies in the offices if any boycott happens.
However, we all know that any boycott would be like a gnat’s bite. A minor irritant for a short period. a purely symbolic thing. The club will sell any season tickets returned, just as they did with the last boycott. As I’ve said, they could give them away and probably still increase revenues as the newcomers will spend more than the people who boycott, as they are the types who’d already given up eating and drinking at OT or buying merchandise or programmes. The Glazers might even prefer a boycott and a turnover of fans. More revenues for them in the long run.
Oh dear, I do love supporters who band around words like naive but clearly don’t understand the economics of the Glazer regime.
1) Do yourself a favour and read the full bond document, it’ll be an education and plenty of other analysis of the Glazers’ debt.
2) Business plan is to take out around £100m in dividends at some point this year, then 50 per cent of ongoing profits annually. In any case after those dividends, the management fees charged by the Glazers and interest is paid there’s not a lot left in the kity. Perhaps £17m per year at best.
3) The Glazers have already made significant rounds of redundancies at the club.
4) The business plan doesn’t rely on success on the field. This is a misnomer. As long as United qualifies for the group stages of the Champions League the vast majority of TV / ticket income that could be made, will be made. Everything else is, to quote, “a drop in the ocean.”
5) The leverage is such that short-term cash flow is really important to the Glazers. So while the total cost of supporters not renewing may not be significant when compared to total turnover, non-renewal will have an impact.
But if you’re happy with £716m debt, 48% rise in ticket prices, negative investment in the playing squad, redundancies at the club and supporters being harassed for wearing green then so be it.
I think it was I who posted the original post (on another website I believe)which Brian the Red first alludes to – but you’ve taken it a little out of context. The point however remains valid – non-going match fans should not be telling match going reds what to do. You’ve removed your support. Because we, in th emajority, have decided to stay, it is not a vote of confidence for the Glazers nor an approval of their business techniques. We simply believe that removal of our support for the club is not the way forward. [As an alternative – though I know this is pie in the sky – I’d happily remortgage my house, borrow £10,000 and put it into a buy-out scheme if it was guaranteed that 70,000 other reds would do the same. We’d have to keep the debt short-term but we’d be able to run the club for the benefit of the club and no-one else. Just one short, ‘off-the-top-of-my-head’ idea but I’d give it more chance of success than the removal of my £690 renewal and lack of support).
Anyway, back on topic – I think this is a great article that is well written
The figures at United are very tight. Eventually low investment in the team will lead to no champions league and loss of sponcersn A boycott of 10,000 this season will result in about a 10 million loss in dividens paid direct to Glazer and also give momentum for a much larger boycott the season after.
Its far more effective than a meatpie boycoyy
I have been going to OT for over 30 years not all as a season ticket holder but certainly 12 as an st and before that LMTB. I chose not to renew.
Non renewal needs to be done en masse to make a difference. The fear of the unknown is difficult to overcome for many but sometimes people need to take a stand against something you feel strongly about. Yes, some people will step in to fill some seats. Lets see how long that waiting list is.
If 10,000 or more haven’t renewed, i will view that as a success. I hope that 15,000 to 20,000 decide enough is enough. Sadly, it really is the quickest and most effective way to change things for the better.
The people saying £680 wont make a difference can be proven wrong. The cumulative effect of large numbers of non renewals gives further weight to the feeling of unrest and the campaign to remove the current owners. Does anyone view them in a positive light?
The Green and Gold campaign is not a ‘silly’ campaign, as some have suggested. It has been very effective. Anyone suggesting otherwise is clearly blinkered. It is not a minority as Mr Gill suggests. The momentum has been building and the groundswell of opinion is that it is time for a change and time for action. If Manchester United fans can successfully wrestle control from the Glazers it will be a wonderful achievement.
SAF has the power to end their reign. I don’t understand why he is scared of talking. They couldn’t sack him without massive revolt.
Good post… and it’s not all about money, although money seems to be the only language the Glazers might listen to… it’s also about press exposure and momentum… if enough people refuse to renew their STs… and the stands are more green and gold than red… this in turn inspires more to get involved. Let’s face it… leeches don’t let go, until you apply a bit of salt.
And I also agree about Ferguson… I’ve mentioned this before… over 20 years establishing his legacy, and he’s soon to retire… why is he remaining silent, while the Glazers undermine the foundations of all his accomplishments?
Hey Ed you remind me of the headless chicken knocking out everything around it. You’ve always propagated this boycott agenda, I only hope you’ve thought this through. Its your blog and more importantly there is this idea of free speech but when ones words start having consequences, there is a responsibility that comes along. Should the story be true to this extent (didn’t you say goal.com!!!), then you (and certain other vociferous kind) have managed to mold the opinions of the people.
We’re in this situation in the first place because of the Glazer’s buy out, so to that end this liability is all their doing. But beyond that their evils seem to have been quite exaggerated.
I’m an avid reader of your blog (and about half a dozen more) so I know the general facts and figures that are thrown around.. As much as I love the zeal that Andersred shows for our club, he too ploughs only one side of the fence. For instance, when he rolls out the figures stating the amount of interest that we’ve paid over the years, he for some reason doesn’t mention that it is in proportion to the amount of tax we’ve saved. I won’t get into the technical detail, strictly basic- isn’t interest an expenditure that is tax deductible or not so in Manchester..? Now whether the money goes out paying Glazer interest or it goes out to the British treasury, the money is going out of the club in any case. The Glazers have indeed worsened our outlay, but not by that much. Also its fair to bring into the debate the increased revenues they’ve generated. Besides, debt isn’t the worst thing in finance, on the contrary to a certain degree it is healthy for any business. So what is actually needed is not to remove debt but bring it down to a reasonable level. You’ve often shown your support for andersred, then please have him give you comparative study (a hypothetical one obviously..and he’s good at that) of the expenses and revenues of the club now versus United as a PLC then. See I’m certain the Glazers have drained out more money, that is no debate, I just want to know why is it made to show more than it actually is. If Keith did it I would understand, he stands to gain immensely should the Glazer family lose. But why is a certain section of the fans painting a darker picture of black and greyer picture of white.
For the sake of the club you support, be fair- mostly to the club itself and see if its in the best interest of the club to dent the Glazers.. The trouble is should the club be destabilized to the extent that Glazers can no longer afford it, what then?
This boycott and other such measures serve a larger purpose, that is too force the Glazer’s to sell off the club..and in the absence of any alternative, it means forcing them to sell the club to the Red Knights. But is it such a good idea to hand the club to those who at its original value could not afford it (not such a contrast to the Glazers then is it?!?!)?!? The problem is not that the Glazers are ruining the club (they’ve proved themselves adept at running Manchester United at least), but that the Glazers simply cannot afford the club. So how advisable is it then to let those have it, who lets face neither have the expertise nor the money to buy it in the first place. Credit where its due, the Glazers have been impeccable in letting Sir Alex manage the football at the club. How about taking into account the 40 odd member boardroom deciding the matters. Also none of the have a footballing pedigree so potential impact it has on the Manchester United brand must also be accounted.
I don’t believe these doom mongers or in impending catastrophe nor do I think that bleeding the Glazer’s dry would help the club with anything. Under the Glazers we’ve done pretty well, no I don’t mean the trophies (Sir Alex alone to be credited for that) but on the whole. We always bought young players and continue to do that. We had a youth policy, we have it still. During the Glazers tenure we had our highest transfer spending in a single window (Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani + Tevez). We also bought our most expensive player ever (Berbaking) so whats the cry about. The club is the most efficient footballing enterprise. We have the most stable revenue streams. The revenue to wages ratio is probably the best amongst the big clubs. There has been nothing that suggests we cannot spend huge sums of money- apart from the manager’s austerity..again when all this is considered the concern seems a bit misplaced.
On what basis have the self anointed knights become our saviors. Their plans are as guarded as the glazer accounts. Their resources are hardly encouraging (40 Mike Ashleys owning United, I once got scoffed at). No one has a credible footballing background and I know you’re no fan of David Gill but Keith Harris..you really want him instead… All we’re left with is the backing they have from MUST. But MUST itself isn’t our guardian angel, and often shown themselves as a deluded bunch. They want a supporter owned club, Barcalona style. Their main grievance was that that the ticket prices at United had become too high.. If only one of the 160,000 member organization had looked at the ticket prices (or the official merchandise) at the supporter owned Barcelona they get an idea of where the huge transfer funding comes from..!
Its all too easy to slate the Glazers but what alternatives do we have. Between the devil and the demon I’d choose a known devil than an unknown one.
We lost our trophy to the Londoners what next…tempting to write the clubs name here (Aren’t the knights all from London)…but I want to say instead is how good is it for the morale of the squad to see empty stands.. Even a half empty Old Trafford would take years to make the glazers go skint.. In this half blind rage against the glazers you’re forgetting the trade off. What about the football, the matches, rivalries, trophies, the image, the history and the arrogance we always had. I don’t even need to tell you where this will lead the football club too. If this is what you wanted, well congratulations for axing the our own legs. I just hope you’re completely sure of what you’re at.
In my emotional unitedrant (sorry) I forgot that this is getting ahead of myself.. I’m certain that the stadium will be sufficiently full and in course of time completely full..so this may all be in vain.
And please don’t come up with lame adjectives linking me to the Glazers or them paying me off, I’m so far away from that part of the world they wouldn’t be able locate me on a map..
So much of what you say has been covered elsewhere on this blog so there’s no point repeating my thoughts really. Interested in your first point though… where have I “propagated a boycott agenda” exactly? I don’t think I’ve offered any advice at all. I think that’s for supporters groups, as representatives of the fans, to do so. In which they’ve been conspicuously weak.
Also important – since you’re putting words into my mouth here – to note that I didn’t endorse the Red Knights or anybody else. Fortunately everything I’ve written is a matter of record. I do want the Glazers out though and although there are areas of grey, the finances which are now available for everybody to see, are a disaster and damaging to our club.
Fantastic post Hasan.
Those points needed highlighting. This is not as black and white an issue as some fans suggest.
Hasan, It all makes sense. I have viewed the club’s accounts presentec for the bond issue and one would readily note that the club is profitably and losses are registered after non-cash expenses (amortisation & depriciation). Ok we would be better off by GBP41 million if we had no intrest to pay but what about the assets? What about the dividends paid and taxation when the club was a public entity with no debt?
Whenever I read a post, that tries to explain the details of finance, to suggest things aren’t as bad some would have us believe… it just leaves me frustrated and deflated… The financial nuts and bolts is an argument for different minds than mine… I don’t understand most of it and don’t claim to, but what frustrates me, is that it misses the point completely in my opinion.
Yes, the money side of football is important, especially for a club that operates at the financial altitude of United… very few other clubs deal with such huge numbers. But that’s the housekeeping costs… the mortgage, the groceries, electricity, water, etc… the bills. When you build a home… you don’t judge the quality of your life in that home, by the bills you pay… you measure it with the blood sweat and tears invested, that made it your sanctuary. Emotional bollocks I hear some say… but for many of us, that’s the type of investment we make in our football clubs… it’s emotional… We love our football clubs!
The PLC might have had it’s limitations… I don’t care!
When the Glazers made their moves to grab United… I wasn’t one of those that said, “let’s see what happens”, or, “we’ll be more efficient in the transfer market”… or any other of the many arguments of reason, that tried to soften the impoact of what was happening… I was simply furious.
These American “sporting franchise investors”, didn’t even give a shit about sport… nevermind football, and especially nevermind United… their only motivation was running a business and maximising profits. Some supporters said… “they’re savvy businessmen, and they’ll make us lots of money, and blah, blah, yada, yada… I don’t give a shit… they had no emotional interest what-so-ever… just a plan to make money.
Now… had they come with their own cash and bought United outright… that’s one thing… I’d still hate them, but as long as they were keeping us competetive, I’d grudgingly tolerate them… but they didn’t even have a third of the money neccessary to buy United… not even a bastard third! Because of their understanding of finance… they grabbed United with mostly borrowed money, with United itself as the tool to pay back the loans! This may well be typical business practice elsewhere, but for my previously debt free, Manchester United, this is simply outrageous… and for the life of me, I can’t understand how any of you can find reason, or argument to suggest otherwise… but still many of you try.
I don’t just hate the Glazers… I loathe them with a passion that makes me question my emotinal investment in the club in the first place. I sometimes find myself wondering whether or not it’s worth it to even follow the fuckin game anymore.
The Glazers are parasites, leeches… nothing less. And there is going to be no outcome that truly satisfies me. Even if they sell the club to the fans, or even a sugar daddy fan that makes everything right again… it will stick in my guts to know that these cunts came to United and walked away with a big fat profit.
Explain the workings business practice all you like… I don’t get it, and what’s more, I don’t give a shit… The Glazers have spoiled United for me… they’ve got their stink all over it, and it will take a lot more than money for it to feel like my football club again… try and explain away that!
Under 40,000 Season ticket have been sold.
my source comes from inside the club. last time i talk 2 him on 12th june.on 12th numbers under 30000.i don’t know right numbers.and i keep asking and i m in touch in my source but my source refuse to say anything now.i don’t know why?if i get right number i will put here or on andersred blog.it will take time.
Ed first of all I find your articles interesting and well written, however I get the impression that you do not take people seriously if they have not read the financial documents themselves, (I have tried to read them but to be honest found them hard going) however I did watch the panorma program and was shocked when I found out the extent to which the Glazers are in debt and what they are doing to Unted,so feel I can make a reasonable educated comment, that despite the shocking owners we have I really dont see how a season ticket boycott of loyal fans will help. I agree with comments made by an earlier post, that it will have detrementle affect on, what I believe we should focus on, the team itself. I am only 20 so carnt say ive supported United through thick and thin but have attended matches since I was 8 and more recently I have spent a seisable amount following United both home and away and have traveled from coventry (as I attened uni there) for evry home game for the past two seasons , although there are people who have dedicated far more time to United than me I do see myself as a loyal fan. Surely a half empty stadium is not good. I have renewed my season ticket not in support of the Americane Lepricorns but to support the team that I love. I have asked myself, ‘does this make me a less loyal fan than those who have boycotted?’ No I dont think so. As a relatively new reader of United Rant you may have already covered these points but, I welcome your reply.
More a case of I think it’s important fans are fully informed before forming an opinion.
Is it so difficult to understand? The only way fans can damage Glazer is to boycott anything that gives them income. Of course it will also affect the club we love, but it’s the whole point. Let us accept that the club does not qualify for the Champions League one season and the team ends up in the middle of the table. Only then will the Glazer understand that it has lost the battle against the supporters and will have to sell the club to an acceptable price. What is a year? Is it just what it takes to get rid of bloodsuckers is definitely worth it.
I have been a manchester United supporter for just over 50 years. I’ve seen it have good times and bad times. I’ve seen it privatised and then sold on. If you want to blame anybody blame our former Chairman who made the Glazers possible. I for one will continue to go to Old Trafford as long as health allows and I will continue to renew my season ticket
I watched my first United game in 1964 and have held 2 season tickets for many years. We did not renew but I fully respect those that did – this was a terribly hard decision but we decided that enough is enough not just with the Glazers but with the excesses of the premier league, I am just sick of directly or indirectly supporting the fantasy lifestyles enjoyed by players – this is now out of control. I also decided that not one more penny of mine would go to the Glazer family. Next year we will have a look at some lower league football and hopefully learn to live without United, for a while at least.
I like Ian above have after many years decided not to renew. The Glazers are bad enough and the dreadful Automatic Cup Scheme, but also the salaries and the lifestyles of some of the players are also pretty ridiculous.
I will return when sense returns toi the sport.
For me, as a now ex-season ticket holder it comes down to this:
Was the club better off and more finacially stable in the long term before the Glazers came along? An unequivocal yes.
Are the Glazers in it for the long term to ensure success on the field or to bleed the club dry then walk away?
I know what I think and that’s why I will not be going to OT until the situation changes for the better.
For my sins I am a Bradford City fan, but saddens me to see one of the greatest clubs the world has ever had to be a controlled by a merciless family well known for it’s reputation of shady dealing. When you think of the magic spirit of the Busby Babes & the culture that surrounded it compared to the arrogance of it’s present day “occupiers” it makes even a Bantams fan want to spit – I wont say in which direction.