Friday 23 February 2018

Manchester United to offer cut-price tickets for Europa League... if they qualify

David Moyes' team have no chance of making the Champions League next season
David Moyes' team have no chance of making the Champions League next season

Mark Ogden

Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, have sanctioned a 25 per cent cut in ticket prices for Europa League ties at Old Trafford next season if David Moyes’s team qualifies for the competition over the final month of this campaign.

With senior figures at United now accepting that the club will miss out on Champions League football next season for the first time in 19 years, the Glazers have signed off the proposal to implement the price cuts for home fixtures in the qualifying rounds and group stages of the Europa League.

United have also agreed to remove Europa League fixtures from the club’s controversial automatic ticket scheme, which currently obliges season ticket holders to purchase tickets for games in the FA Cup and Champions League.

Although United’s current position of seventh in the Premier League will only guarantee Europa League qualification in the event of Arsenal winning the FA Cup but finishing outside the top four, Moyes’s team appears to be in a battle with Tottenham for sixth place, which is a Europa League qualification spot.

And with season ticket renewal forms and prices due to be issued, the club has chosen to impose a 25 per cent reduction for Europa League games in an effort to encourage supporters to attend fixtures in the competition.

Similar ticket cuts were trialled for Europa League knockout fixtures against Ajax and Athletic Bilbao in 2012 following United’s group stage elimination from the Champions League, with a crowd of over 67,000 watching the Ajax game and 59,000 witnessing the defeat against Bilbao.

The prospect of facing less glamorous opposition in the early stages of the Europa League – United could be forced to face a European minnow in a qualifying fixture at the end of July – has raised the prospect of fans turning their back on the competition next season, however.

But with United already facing a drop in commercial and ticket revenue next season due to the failure to qualify for the Champions League, the club will cut Europa League admission prices in an effort to fill the majority of Old Trafford on Thursday nights.

Meanwhile, fans who reject the chance to attend Europa League games would risk missing out on points to qualify for tickets for any semi-finals or cup finals United may reach next season.

The decision to take European games out of the automatic ticket scheme is regarded by club officials as an exceptional measure due to the absence of Champions League fixtures on the calendar next season.

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