OPEN LETTER TO MANCHESTER UNITED FROM M.U.S.T - OLD TRAFFORD ATMOSPHERE & STADIUM DEVELOPMENThttps://t.co/V02B0Auofl#mufc pic.twitter.com/oJ7pCcNRTd— M.U.S.T (@MU_ST) 14 febbraio 2018
As you know the atmosphere in the stadium is a key issue for supporters and also for the manager and the team. While other factors affecting fans’ perception of their relationship with the Club and players are of key importance, undoubtedly stadium reconfiguration could open up opportunities to address many of the underlying physical and operational issues which affect atmosphere.
The biggest single change which would impact on atmosphere would be to reclaim the Stretford End as a traditional “popular end” with cheap tickets, a youthful age profile of highly vocal fans. To achieve this, and so doing re-unify the Stretford End, would require relocation of the Executive International Suite and at least part of the Family Stand to a more suitable area of the stadium.
Recreating two popular ends would power the atmosphere throughout the whole stadium. Therefore we believe that as soon as it is possible to offer disabled supporters superior accommodation, custom designed to meet their requirements (perhaps as part of stadium expansion), then the East Lower section should revert to cheap seats (and standing when this is allowed) for vocal fans to mirror the Stretford End.
New capacity, reconfiguration and aggregating groups of seats when they become available should allow for friends to be relocated together in groups rather than the current reality of seats tending to be in groups of two or four only. This is regarded as a key issue as to why atmosphere at Old Trafford has dropped off, whereas at away games larger groups tend to gather (stand) together. It’s been argued that atmosphere develops better naturally with groups of a dozen or more together - a critical mass perhaps. Sections of unreserved seating might have a similar impact.
We welcome your public support for Safe Standing and hope to see Manchester United leading the way in progressing towards its implementation. The inclusion of safe standing capacity, in key areas including the Stretford End, is wanted by many supporters and would be an important enabler for co-locating larger groups of friends and for cheaper ticket prices.
A vibrant sustained youth support is essential to protect the Club’s long term support and improve atmosphere. Actions are needed to attract and retain the next generation of young fans. While recent reductions in season ticket prices for young adults were welcome, many are still priced out of attending on a regular basis, especially during the crucial transition period to full adult prices, leading to an ongoing rise in the average age of season ticket holders. An extension of the age range for youth ticket concession prices would be beneficial in this respect and also the possibility of progressively increasing the minimum percentage of such youth tickets in key sections of the stadium such as the Stretford End to deliver the rejuvenation we described above.
We think that regular supporters who provide the most loyal support should bear less of the burden of stadium revenue, and that there may be opportunities to review what different categories of ticket holder, including non-members, may be charged. Increased capacity would of course create the opportunity to expand and improve executive facilities. that could fund further measures to keep ticket prices down for the majority and to attract younger supporters around the ground or in designated sections, including a new, larger and much improved family stand.
Facilities in the stadium have not kept pace with our competitors. We are sure that you will want to address opportunities for expanded and improved concourses where such development is feasible, as well as innovative solutions to expedite stadium access in the new era of higher security. Faster bar service and cheaper drinks are also common request from supporters. Again these could be addressed much more radically with expansion.
We acknowledge the positivity of our initial discussions with you and ask that the Club continues to work in partnership with supporters in developing plans to the mutual benefit of the Club and supporters. We are keen to push ahead as quickly as possible on discussion of interim measures which will produce progress while we await the major stadium development that is so badly needed.