The big sell
It’s the off-season, the traditional time when players head out on holiday, supporters look to the gossip pages, and the Glazer family tries to sell season tickets. But be quick about it because that season ticket
waiting priority list will only last, well, the whole of next season. And the season after. And the one after that too. You could miss out!
Talk of waiting lists has, of course, long been a charade following seven years of Glazer ownership that has driven thousands away from the club. And almost all supporters know the score by now – any previous interaction with the club, whether in the form of a 30-year-long season ticket ownership, or the far more casual ‘official’ membership, will result in a barrage of text, email, phone and postal marketing from the club. Woe betide the poor sods who buy a box, and are then inundated with the kind of shameless begging that ill befits a club of United’s stature.
But, all’s fair in love and marketing, and you can’t fault a trier!
This summer, however, the pressure has been ratcheted up a notch, with Sir Alex Ferguson promising fans an exciting season next year. Or a heart attack. The choice is yours, according to Ferguson’s video message sent to season ticket holders this week.
“When you look back on last season, it tells you the story of Manchester United,” said the 70-year-old United coach, forgetting that City hasn’t beaten United to the title since 1968.
“There is no club in the world who can create the drama that we created last year. Okay, it didn’t work out our way this time but when you go back through the years and the number of times we have scored last-minute goals it just added to the excitement and drama of Manchester United.
“It will always be there because that is the kind of club we are. When you are buying your season ticket you are guaranteed: One, a possible heart attack. Two, incredible excitement in the last minute of games. And three: Hope that we win the championship back.”
Some might add any “hope” that United may win the Premier League crown back will be significantly boosted by a central midfield acquisition or two. Rant couldn’t comment though – we’re far too busy thumbing through the latest United flier to worry about transfer gossip.
Odd though that Ferguson should be rolled out for the summer shill, and not in some puff MUTV piece either, but for a made-for-marketing video delivered to ticket holders. Even with the Green and Gold movement effectively dead, have the nerves returned to United’s marketing department post a trophyless season? It would appear so.
The hard sell won’t stop there of course – United continued to push season tickets through the last campaign and only closed down membership a week before the season concluded in disappointment. Just think of all the member benefits to be had with, er, no matches remaining at Old Trafford!
Summer is also the season for new kits and the accompanying range of leisurewear. These lines are now routinely renewed every season, where a supporter might once have been able to get two campaigns wear out of their expensive polyester creation.
While United’s fixed-price deal with Nike ensures it is the American corporation that profits most from sales, the club takes a percentage of any overage on agreed targets. Moreover, with a new deal to be struck between the parties by 2015, when the current contact expires, it is in United’s interest to increase the volume.
Not that fans will look good in the Bay City Rollers-esque gingham, which is, we’re reliably told, a nod to Manchester’s cotton industry heritage. ‘Made from Manchester’ is the campaign slogan; in Thailand by school children, the club did not add.
But if the gingham tea cloth look doesn’t inspire, then perhaps fans will take to the stroke-inducing leisurewear range, guaranteed to produce a cross-eyed response in fans globally. Come to think of it, Rant wonders whether Sir Alex had been staring at this monstrosity for too long before selecting the United side to face Manchester City back in April?
Then comes the summer tour, which will comprise games in China and Norway. United first faces Shanghai Shenhua on 25 July in the DHL and Cheverolet-sponsored ‘China Cup’.
No, Rant hadn’t heard of it either until a “delighted” David Gill filled in the gaps: “This is the first time we will play for the Chevrolet China Cup and I think it marks a fantastic start to what we hope to be a long relationship with Chevrolet,” shilled the United ceo.
Ferguson’s side will then meet Vålerenga IF in Oslo on 5 August. The Oslo game will cost fans up to an eye-watering £130, while players face a 20,000 mile round trip before the 2012/13 season kicks off in earnest. Indeed, with no charity shield fixture next season the club is expected to add three more matches to the summer schedule, potentially including a match in South Africa or Nigeria.