Manchester United supporters are planning to infiltrate the home fans at Sunderland next week after the North East club cut their ticket allocation by almost half. Just days after crowd trouble marred United’s 1-0 win at neighbours Manchester City, another serious security issue has come to light.
Sunderland have been warned that thousands of United fans could try to find a way into the home enclosures on May 2 after restricting the club to just 1,700 tickets for a game that could decide the title race. United have been informed by Sunderland that their allocation has been cut due to the persistent standing of their supporters on recent trips to the 48,353 capacity Stadium of Light even though Premier League rules stipulate that away clubs must receive a minimum of 3,000 tickets for all matches.
Appeals against the reduced allocation have been made but the Wearsiders insist that the decision has been taken by the local safety advisory group following the refusal of Manchester United travelling fans to heed warnings over persistent standing on previous visits to the ground.
Sunderland are not the only club to take issue with travelling United supporters. Bolton, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa have all previously cut allocations because of the same reason. The question has got to be asked however as to why ground security are consistently unable to enforce the law when it comes to standing. It will also be interesting to find out if United fans are the only ones who are guilty of this practice.
As United could be travelling to the North East with the potential of reclaiming top spot in the league in their penultimate game of the season, the Independent Manchester United Supporters’ Association (IMUSA) claims the allocation reduction will fuel a black market for tickets.
IMUSA spokesman Mark Longden said: “This has been happening to United fans for over 10 years now. The safety argument is spurious at best, this could be an absolutely pivotal game so there will be many more than 1,700 United fans travelling to Sunderland and they will just buy tickets from the home fans” he warned.
“In 1996, we went to Middlesbrough on the final day of the season and their fans were selling their season tickets for £200-300 to United fans. What is to stop the Sunderland fans doing the same next week? They could pay for next year’s season ticket from the proceeds and then watch the game in the pub. Regardless of whether it’s a game that could decide the title, that is the situation Sunderland will be facing”
Maybe the time has come for United to start fighting fire with fire and consider retaliating against these clubs by finding reasons for reducing or even eliminating all away ticket allocations in order to give an additional 3,000 United fans an opportunity to watch their own team in action.
How about an overwhelming world wide demand for home game tickets and a clear inability to supply them despite having a stadium with a 76,000 seat capacity? Further, why should Manchester United or any other club be forced to set aside 3,000 tickets for away fans when it cannot even satisfy demand from its own supporters? But then again, that may be a discussion which is best left for another day.
Do you plan to travel to Sunderland with or without tickets?