Football: Sir Alex takes wages cut and moves to Mayfair

Old Trafford aristocrats secure another monopoly. By Simon Turnbull
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The Independent Online
AS MANCHESTER UNITED prepare to challenge for the fourth leg of a possible 1999 quadruple, the Toyota Cup match, their Monopoly has been confirmed. The Treble-winners' trip to Tokyo to play Palmeiras on Tuesday coincides with the launch of Manchester United Monopoly. It also happens to coincide with their formal replacement in one of the competitions they monopolised last season.

There are no AXA Wildcards in the Manchester United edition of Monopoly. Instead of the traditional Chance and Community Chest, players pick up Home Game and Away Game cards. There are no bricks-and-mortar properties either: their places on the board are taken by armed-and- legged properties.

Sir Alex Ferguson, for instance, occupies the Mayfair slot, with Denis Irwin in the Park Lane role and, at the bottom end of the market, the unfortunate John Curtis in the Old Kent Road position.

"We thought long and hard about precisely who went where on the board," a club spokesman said, "because we didn't want to offend anyone. In the end it was decided strictly on seniority, in the case of Sir Alex, and on appearances, in the case of the players."

Hence Dwight Yorke, Manchester United's record pounds 12.6m signing, can be purchased from the Pall Mall slot for pounds 140. And Roy Keane - Gillingham, never mind Juventus, might care to note - is available as a knock-down Oxford Street sale at pounds 300, two stops past Go To Jail. Wages are not what they are in the real Old Trafford world either: players collect a mere pounds 200 each time they pass Go. "The aim of the game is exactly the same as normal Monopoly," Steve Bradley, of Mason Williams Public Relations, said. "You build up property, in stands and terraces and grounds, and make money."

And Man U Monopoly will make pounds 29.99 per sale for Manchester United and Hasbro.

Making money has long been the name of the game at Old Trafford, and the Manchester United megastore Christmas catalogue includes another football- club first. Manchester United Subbuteo, which retails at pounds 25, features plastic mini-players in replica kits. How often those kits will have to be changed remains to be seen.

The catalogue is a merchandising tour de force, running to 76 pages and including such items as a Manchester United dress (pounds 48, not modelled by David Beckham), a lampshade base and bin set (pounds 20, presumably for occasions, such as in Florence on Tuesday night, when Fergie's spice boys are rubbish), and an 11-inch teddy bear that sings "Glory, Glory, Man United" (pounds 20, batteries not included).

There are no offers of one-third price reductions on stock commemorating the winning of the Treble - or discounts on other souvenirs featuring the trophy Manchester United will not be winning this season, such as the FA Cup mouse mat (pounds 6.99) and the silver FA Cup coin (pounds 49.99). And parents whose children happen to put every catalogued item on their Christmas list to Santa should take out a second mortgage now. The bill comes to pounds 9,328.28.