Manchester United season-ticket holders face the prospect of shelling out hundreds of pounds on tickets they may not want, if the Red Devils find themselves in the Europa League next season.
United have an “automatic cup scheme," which dictates that season-ticket holders must buy a seat for all home cup games, regardless of whether they want to attend.
Therefore, a Europa League campaign would include a charge for all home group fixtures, which would likely see some of Europe’s minnows visit Old Trafford.
Ian Herbert of the Independent provides the details:
At a fans’ forum last week, the club did not provide a direct answer to the question of whether season-ticket holders would be exempt from paying for Europa League tickets and whether the pricing regime would change.
But it is understood that there are no plans to reduce the sums supporters will be charged for group-stage European nights, as United also did for the games against Ajax and Bilbao, who eliminated them from the 2011-12 Europa League.
In somewhat comical timing, United’s official Twitter feed produced a flashback on Thursday to some of the club’s most obscure European outings:
A return to the Europa League would almost certainly provide new material for such an article.
First and foremost, however, United must qualify for European football next season. They are currently seventh in the table and are 11 points behind fourth-placed Liverpool in the hunt for Champions League football.
Even Tottenham, currently fifth, hold an eight-point advantage over United, highlighting the struggle David Moyes faces just to qualify for the Europa League.
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Herbert’s report, which is echoed by ESPN, raises a scenario in which some United fans may begin to hope they finish outside the top five this season.
Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, United’s fans have been treated to one dose of humiliation after another under Moyes. Cup exits at home to Swansea and Sunderland come close to the top of that list.
To force—not ask—those fans, who have been treated to Champions League football for decades, to pay the same money to watch a substandard level of football will unlikely find favour among the faithful.
However, if those same fans want to ensure United’s slump under Moyes is a short one, they will perhaps understand that the club’s owners need to generate as much funds as possible in order to sign new players.
Juan Mata has already broken United’s record transfer fee, and more of his calibre will need to follow if they are to bounce back next term.