Manchester United amend season ticket rules after investigation

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The Independent Football

Manchester United season ticket holders are to be guaranteed tickets for all cup games after a Government regulator found a "number of potentially unfair terms" in terms and conditions.

Announcing the results of an investigation prompted by fans today, the Office of Fair Trading said Manchester United had agreed to amend its rules from next season.

In November, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) complained to the OFT that season tickets holders had been unable to watch some of the best games of the season.

MUST had said that "significant" number of fans were unable to purchase tickets for an FA Cup match against Arsenal and a Champions League tie against Barcelona.

“In the 2007/ 8 season when United played Arsenal in the FA cup, FA regulations meant that Arsenal was given a larger allocation,” MUST complained.

“Similarly the Champions League Semi Final second leg against Barcelona saw increased numbers of visiting fans and officials/executves. On both these occasions, the club informed a significant number of ST holders that they would not be billed for a ticket for the match.

“In other words, the ST holders were forced to pay for the earlier less important matches but for two of the biggest home cup games of the season they were not allowed access to the stadium."

The OFT identified a number of problems had been found with Man Utd's season ticket policy under consumer law, specifically the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations (UTCCRs).

"The club has responded positively and agreed to amend its terms..." the OFT said.

In future, it said,

- season ticket holders would be guaranteed a seat at every home league and cup game

- they would receive clearer information when they were likely to be moved from their seat for a cup match

- they would receive duplicate season tickets where the original had been lost or stolen

- they would have a better appeals system for disputes over cancellation of season tickets due to non-payment for cup tickets

This season, Manchester United fans paid between £394 and £912 for a season ticket which guarantees them access to all Premier League home games and requires them to buy extra tickets for cup matches. The supporters’ association was claiming that, when it came to some of the top cup games, there was no guarantee all of these supporters would get tickets.

Manchester United's chief operating officer Michael Bolingbroke welcomed the OFT announcement. He said: “We are very pleased that a season ticket will continue to include cup matches. That is central to our strategy and we have made the necessary changes for next season to avoid the situation where holders of One Year Season Tickets were not guaranteed tickets for some cup games. While the number potentially affected was small, we accept that all season tickets should come with that guarantee in future.”

He added: “Most of the other changes to terms and conditions reflect existing practice, but their inclusion in the terms provides fans with greater reassurance and transparency. This is good news for the club and for season ticket holders.”