Meanwhile, ticket price increases mean that teenagers, whether they are on their own or as part of a group, struggle to afford to attend matches as they have in the past. Whilst the club has already made some effort in reaching out to the youngsters (by introducing tickets of £17-23 for 16/17 year olds and £24-40.50 for 18-20 year olds), more still can be done.
If more could be done to allow teenagers to attend game, it would prevent the negative impact on the development of Manchester United’s next generation of match-going reds, which reduces the matchday atmosphere, which is often more lively when younger fans are encouraged to attend.
An area of this argument which may strike a chord with our owners is the potential for future revenue. Given young audiences are keenly sought by major global brands, United is at risk of alienating a key demographic as part of the club’s commercial strategy. This is a rare area where supporters’ needs and commercial reality are very well aligned.
We believe that United should introduce an area at Old Trafford which is designated for teenagers only. The ticket price for this area should be considerably lower than the rest of the ground to encourage take up.
United is already behind the club’s peers in this respect. Arsenal FC have introduced a similar area for 1,000 teenagers, for specific matches, at a cost to the club of just £400,000 a season in revenues. Tickets in this section cost no more than £10. The idea has already been broached with the club but they had several reservations about it, apparently related to issues over stewarding. However, if it can be done in London, there’s no reason why it can’t be done at Old Trafford.
To bring this scheme in at the Emirates, the Arsenal Supporters Trust and the Arsenal Independent Supporters Associated pitched to the club that the 11-16 age were key as they become your potential executive seat or box level or season ticket holders of the future and are captured for life essentially by attending games at that age.
They argued existing ticket rights for people that age through family enclosures get bogged down with adults attending and taking many of the seats or else they rely on full paying accompanying adults taking the kid.
They found there was concern that people of their age would not go alone or be allowed to go alone but they pointed out that in London kids travel the city going to school.
The club at all levels were keen on the idea but did impose some restrictions making it for category B and C games only and not for evening kick offs. They also insisted on a membership structure but that wasn’t expensive.
In the end, the club were pleased to give them an area near the away fans on the lower level behind the goal which is on occasion given over to away fans for domestic cup games so at all levels it worked well.
At this stage it is just in a trial phase for 800-1000 teenagers but there have been no issues as yet.
As United have found with the Singing Section, it has been difficult to find a block of seats together. However, if the club were to trial this teenage section, they wouldn’t need an area of thousands, but hundreds. There could also be the option to have pay on the gate for these teenage members who won’t necessarily have access to credit cards to pay online.
RoM has created a petition to get an idea of what fans think about a section for teenagers. The findings will then be forwarded to the clubs Fans Forum for discussion at their next meeting at the beginning of February.