It has yet to be confirmed, but sources say that the local council will be issuing a statement midweek that will prove the rumours to be true. The days of allocations of 3000+ tickets look to be consigned to cup ties with Liverpool merely adding there name to a list that contains Bolton, West Brom, Wigan, Sunderland, Newcastle, Tottenham and others who chop our allocation, sometimes by about 50%.
United fans are perceived different to other fans, whether this dates back to the troublesome 70’s or is just further back-up to Fergies ‘everybody hates us’ attitude could again be argued. When radio commentators remark on United fans standing it always sounds derogatory and like we are doing something wrong, but fans of Newcastle will be lauded as the most loyal set of fans in the country. A United fan lets a flair off and it’s ‘disgraceful behaviour’ a Blackpool fans does the same and they are merely ‘enjoying life in the Premier League’.
Is this why clubs are reducing our allocations? The familiar line that is thrown at us is that it is for our own safety due to persistent standing. Whilst no away follower can deny this is the case, we can claim double standards as we are not the only set of fans to do it. Watching games on TV shows that supporters of other teams stand throughout the match, even at the grounds where our allocation is reduced, and escape without punishment. In fact, at the games where our allocation has been cut, it’s not unusual to see the home fans who take up that allocation standing as well, only a few yards away from our section.
So what can we do?
As a collective body of fans, probably nothing. The English fan is not as important to the clubs as they once were. But, the fans need United’s support in this matter. We need the club to remember that we are not customers, we are people who love the club and it just boils down to us wanting to watch and support the team.
I don’t feel it would be appropriate for us to take the action of reducing these teams allocations at Old Trafford, as we are denying other fans the opportunity to follow their team. The only way we overcome this is if United throw their considerable weight into helping their own supporters. It’s currently an issue that seems too easy to hide away, probably because we are Manchester United fans and people aren’t quick to sympathise with us. Even if the club managed to get proper reasoning out of these clubs it would be a start and give us something to act on.
‘Persistent standing’ is such a throwaway line and not even a viable excuse as it could so easily apply to so many other teams. If United fans are harder to police then show us the arrest figures, if we damage more of the stadium then show us the criminal damage reports, if we cause more trouble outside the ground then show us the policing costs (although this would hardly be an argument as less fans inside the ground means more outside- Liverpool may want to think about this).
Just don’t throw us the ‘Persistent standing’ line when you are denying us the right to watch the team, something we all look forward to each week and spend the week at work to pay for.
It’s not too much to ask is it?
You can follow Dave on Twitter: @Blanchy7