While last Thursday’s draw provided a wave of excitement for reds licking their lips at the prospect of going to Madrid, not everyone was happy at the way some tickets for the game are handed out.
Here is a Q&A on the issue as it stands.
Q. How many tickets will United get for this game?
Probably between 3,000 and 3,300, if you consider UEFA rules and what other teams with big followings have had at previous games.
Q. How will they be distributed?
Those who went to Braga, Cluj and Galatasaray away will definitely get tickets and it is extremely likely that fans who went to at least one of those games will get them.
This only a guess, but about if 1,000 people went to at least one game and, say, 700 of those can go to Madrid, that will leave about 2,300 tickets.
Q. How will they be handed out?
Thomas Cook Sport (TCS) gets its share and then executive members, season ticket holders and One United Members with no credits can apply.
Q. So what’s the deal with TCS?
If you’re an executive member, a season ticket holder or a One United Member, you were able to buy a travel package which guaranteed you a ticket – even if you had no credits.
Q. How many people took advantage of that?
We aren’t sure because it won’t say and neither will United.
Judging by its website, there were five ticket-and-travel packages on sale and all of them are sold out, even though three never went on sale online and so many never have been sold (though they could have been sold by phone.
At most, TCS could have sold 1,000 tickets, though we’re not sure.
It’s likely to be nearer 400.
Q. So why is this an issue?
We’re certain everyone with at least one credit who wants a ticket for Madrid will get one, especially as some of those will have booked with TCS.
But some argue there will be times when the allocation will be lower and people with credits miss out to fans with no credits who ‘jumped the queue’.
Q. Has it ever happened?
Yes. When we last got to the final, season ticket holders with no credits were able to buy such packages ahead of people with credits and people who weren’t even able to apply.
A similar thing happened when we played Ajax last season.
Q. So what should happen?
The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust wants TCS to allow people with credits first dibs on its packages.
Q. What has MUST said?
Its chief executive officer Duncan Drasdo said:
“The exciting tie with Real Madrid has caused more ticketing issues.
The club’s official travel partner, Thomas Cook, have already put five plane loads of tickets on offer to be bought by any member or season ticket holder of Manchester United on a first-come first-served basis.
These expensive trips do not give priority to fans with loyalty credits from previous games in the Champions League, unlike the club’s own ticket ballot which will prioritise fans who made the long trips to support United in the group stage games in Cluj, Braga and Istanbul.
Thomas Cook and Manchester United have always refused to share information on how many tickets Thomas Cook are entitled to, sometimes leading to bizarre and unfair policies such as members getting a Champions League final ticket for Wembley in 2011 by buying a package, whilst over 20,000 season ticket holders were not even permitted to apply for a ticket via the club.
It is time that Manchester United and Thomas Cook agreed to have a coherent and transparent system of allocating tickets, so that Thomas Cook can still fill up their trips but giving priority first to those who have accrued loyalty credits recognised by the club.”
Q. Is TCS doing anything legally wrong?
No. It has a commercial agreement with United and wants to make money, but prioritising those with credits is unlikely to harm its profit margins, but it would give it brownie points among fans.