Glazer plans to raise ticket prices by 54%

Malcolm Glazer plans to raise ticket prices at Manchester United by 54 per cent within five years in a move that is sure to fuel fans' fears about the American businessman's takeover, according to reports last night.

Leaked copies of Glazer's business plan, which was labelled "aggressive" by United's board as Glazer stalked the club, indicate that the new owner is particularly keen to target Champions' League matches for price hikes. The cost of some seats could increase by 25 per cent from next season.

The current average cost of a seat for a United game is less than £30, which equates to a mid-range price compared to other Premier League clubs. From next year, Glazer envisages average prices of £33.40 per seat, rising to £38 by 2007 and £46 by 2010.

Glazer is banking on massive increases from two of United's three main income streams. He expects matchday revenues to rise by 61 per cent over the next five years, mostly via ticket price rises.

His business plan also foresees United's commercial income rising by 76 per cent in the same period, which is an ambitious aim for a club already in possession of some of the most lucrative sponsorship deals in world sport. Media income is forecast to rise by 13 per cent, which is reasonable, although the United board warned recently that a downturn is expected in that area.

According to reports in The Times, United will also seek to boost their income in the Glazer era by playing an annual friendly match in Tampa, Florida, in addition to whatever tours might be organised for the summer break. The one-off games each summer are expected to raise some £2m each.

Glazer expects United's turnover to rise from £161.5 now to £246m by 2010, but has, as yet, made no public declarations about how he intends to do this, or what contingency plans he might have if he fails. Glazer needs a massive increase in United profits to meet interest payments estimated at up to £70m a year on money he has borrowed to buy United.

Fans may be hit in the pocket as early as next season, with plans to raise price of admission to Champions' League quarter and semi-final matches by 25 per cent.

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