Glazers shocked as United season ticket renewals plummet
Published 13:00 09/06/10 By Simon Mullock
Fan power could force Manchester United’s owners to the negotiating table over the sale of the club after it was revealed that the Reds have only sold 18,000 season tickets for next season.
The Red Knight consortium hoping to buy the club from the Glazer family that have saddled United with debts of more than £700million during five years of ownership have been frustrated by the Americans’ refusal to talk.
That has prompted some more militant supporters to call for a boycott of the club – and thousands of rank-and-file fans seem to have joined the crusade with just four days left to renew season tickets.
Sources close to fan groups have been told that less than less than a third of last season’s 56,000 season ticket holders have bought seats for the new campaign.
United expect thousands more to renew before Friday’s deadline, with an Old Trafford insider saying: “There is always a late rush to buy.”
But MirrorFootball understands that the Glazers have been shocked by the level of dissention shown so far.
There was an orchestrated campaign of resistance against the Glazers before they completed their takeover five years ago.
Some fans were pacified by three consecutive Premier League titles and a Champions League triumph.
But unrest began to grow following United’s failure to reinvest the £80milllion generated by the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid last summer in new players.
It became more widespread when it emerged that United would have lost £40million last year if they hadn’t sold Ronaldo, culminating in the Green and Gold campaign which saw disillusioned supporters take up the colours of founding club Newton Heath.
Last year, season tickets were 6,000 down on the previous 12 months and for the first time in decade there was no waiting list of fans willing to take up the slack.
And hopes that there will be a late buy-up from loyal fans this week were hit further last night when a Panorama programme broadcast by the BBC estimated that the Glazer’s owe £1.1billion on all their businesses on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Red Knights are hoping that United fans will refuse to bow to their loyalty once they realise that the Glazers are starting to run scared.
A source close to the powerful group of businessmen led by football finance expert Keith Harris said: “It was always going to come down to whether the fans could love the club enough to stop going to matches.
“It isn’t just the revenue from season tickets that the Glazers will lose. They will also bit hit by the loss of match-day extras like merchandising, hospitality and even the money they generate from the cost of a programme, pie and pint.”
The Red Knights have promised that every season-ticket holder who joins the boycott will get the opportunity to buy their usual seat in the ground back once the Glazers have been forced out.