United's fat-cat fans told to pay up or stay away from Cup tie

Northampton Town announced yesterday that they are cashing in on their forthcoming FA Cup tie with Manchester United by doubling their normal ticket prices. Cue uproar about exploitation, though not from Cobblers fans. It came instead from United supporters, who were promptly chastised by their Northampton counterparts for moaning.

Northampton progressed to the fourth-round televised game, to be staged on 25 January, by beating Rotherham 2-1 in a third-round replay on Tuesday evening. Yesterday morning Northampton announced that seats will cost between £30 and £35 for adults, £25 for concessions and £15 for disabled supporters. Normal prices for Third Division matches at Sixfields, which has a capacity of 7,653, are £14 to £17 for adults, £8 to £11.50 for concessions and £7 for disabled supporters.

"We can understand why Northampton would want to maximise the revenue from this game but we feel they are being unreasonable in charging United supporters that kind of money," said Mark Longden of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association. "One of the main reasons we look forward to games like this is that we get a different kind of atmosphere and match-day experience than we do at a Premier League game, including lower ticket prices."

Seats at Old Trafford typically cost between £23 and £31 when available, which is rare.

David Linnell, the chairman of the Northampton Town Supporters' Trust, which has strived for years to keep the financially troubled club solvent, took the complaint lightly.

"Coming from supporters of Manchester United, one of the richest clubs in the world with some of the richest fans, I find this criticism a bit rich," he said. "If they don't want to pay the prices, then don't come.

"I expected the prices to be increased. It's a very special cup tie and as a one-off I'm happy to accept it.

"This time last year the whole future of our club was uncertain, we were taking bucket collections, doing whatever we could to keep going. Since then we've got new owners who are investing and they're in the process of buying off the ground, but we appreciate how difficult things can become financially."

Northampton expect to make around £400,000 from the match, with about £250,000 coming from television rights, but there will be extra costs for stewarding and policing. Extra merchandise and catering sales - including prawn sandwiches for the away fans, presumably - should boost it.

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