A few weeks ago a petition was launched to try and bring in a section at Old Trafford just for teenagers. The idea was that the tickets would be cheap and that they could pay for them on the gate.
The thinking behind this idea is that young people contribute to better atmospheres at the football and also to encourage the next generation of match-going reds, with the average age of football fans who can afford to go to games rising to 40+.
Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of MUST – the Manchester United Supporters Trust said:
“The rising age profile of the Old Trafford crowd is now a common concern for fans and club alike. It undoubtedly already impacts on the atmosphere but also has serious implications for the long term health of the club. The traditional life-cycle, starting with kids coming with their parents, then teens going with their mates and then as adults eventually bringing their own kids, has been disrupted for a variety of reasons.
This needs a holistic approach from the club to reinstate this natural fan life-cycle for the benefit of fans and club alike. A crucial first step is to capture the current generation of teenage fans before they defect to alternative activities. If they aren’t hooked now you may lose them for life. Therefore a crucial first step is to establish a dedicated section of the ground for teenage fans to attend with their mates. It’s giving the customer what they want and that is what any ordinary business would strive to do and it is in the club’s own interest to make this happen. I’m a parent of two teenage boys myself and I know this only too well. Prior to all seater stadia these sections were created by the young fans themselves migrating to areas where they could gather together and build their own thing. It may sacrifice some short term income but long term it pays huge dividends.
In addition to the teenage section, if the club really want to reinvigorate and nurture the supporter life cycle it is also essential to look at allowing junior STs in all sections of ground. When young parents want to introduce their kids to Old Trafford they don’t want to have to uproot from their friends and move to the family stand or NT3 in order to get junior ST prices but if there are no junior season tickets available in their own section many will end up delaying bringing their kids and if the kids don’t get the bug at that young age they may find other interests and be lost to the club forever.
Essentially what we want the club to think about is the lifetime value of a loyal fan and how it also makes business sense to invest resources into maximising junior and teen attendance for the future benefit of the club and fans. To that end the youth section is a crucial first step which could bring rapid returns for fans and club alike.”