Over the past two decades the average age of supporters inside Old Trafford has been on a steady incline. The price of tickets, and the ever ‘ageing’ population of season ticket holders, has served to generate a changing demographic of match-going Manchester United supporters. Indeed, surveys conducted by the Premier League suggest that the average age an adult match-goer is 41 across the country. United is no different.
Increasing price increases mean that teenagers now struggle to attend matches as they have in the past, whether this as part of a group or with the family. This pattern has a negative impact on the development of United’s next generation of Reds, and reduces the matchday atmosphere, which is often more lively when younger fans are encouraged to attend.
It’s a challenge that could impact on United’s commercial business too. After all, young audiences are keenly sought by major global brands, and United could well alienate a key demographic, negatively impacting the club’s strategy. This is a rare area where supporters’ needs and commercial reality are very well aligned.
Yet, there are measures that can be taken – and some clubs are ahead of the curve in realising the long-term risk of disenfranchising the young. United Rant, in collaboration with Republik of Mancunia and other fans groups, is calling on United to introduce an area at Old Trafford which is designated for teenagers only. We believe that ticket price for this area should be considerably lower than the rest of the ground to encourage take-up.
It’s an initiative that can offer only upside for fans and the club – as rivals have found out. Arsenal have introduced a similar area for 1,000 teenagers this season, albeit for specific matches, at a cost to the club of just £400,000 in annual revenues. Tickets in this section cost no more than £10. Other clubs, such as Fulham and West Ham United, offer a ‘kids for a quid’ scheme. Even Manchester City regularly sell League Cup tickets for £5 to teenagers.
The average age of residents at Rant towers may also be on the increase, but we remember well standing on the Stretford End for less than £2 in the mid-1980s. That’s a little over £5 in today’s money. Prices are unlikely to drop that far today, but the club can do something about making the game just a little more affordable.
If you’re similarly minded you can sign this online petition, which will be delivered to the club in due course.