Ahead of next month’s trip to Tottenham, we bring you a Q&A to explain why the actions of four idiots have cost us 1,000 tickets.
Q. What’s the background to this?
United are entitled to 3,000 tickets and other clubs routinely get about 2,900 for this game.
Up until three seasons ago, United fans got that many.
Q. What changed?
Tottenham expressed concern that United fans who stood up throughout the game could fall off the upper tier.
Q. So what happened?
Tottenham cut United’s allocation by about 1,000 (to 1,948) and gave the upper tier to the Spurs fans. Reds were only in the lower tier.
Q. Did it work?
Apparently not. Two season ago, Spurs invited a United rep to watch the game and demonstrated problems, so in the summer of 2011,
Tottenham’s safety advisory group (SAG) recommended that United’s allocation should stay around the same level.
The actual allocation was 1,985.
Q. What happened before that game?
Reds Away and MUST expressed concern that Spurs and its licensing authority, Haringey Council, were making these decisions behind closed doors and appealed to them to be more open and transparent.
Q. Did it work?
Well, relations have improved between the council and United fans’ groups and the council should be applauded for getting fans’ representatives involved in the process.
Q. What happened at the match?
According to Bob McIver, the council’s building control manager who is Tottenham SAG chairman.
“The forthcoming fixture has been discussed by the Safety Advisory Group and it was agreed that due to the relatively good behaviour of the away fans at last seasons fixture together with the increased assistance and cooperation of Manchester United Football Club, to increase the allocation of tickets (although I would advise that the fans behaviour is being monitored at all away fixtures and should this deteriorate then this decision will be looked at again).”
Q. So why was behaviour at the last game regarded to be so much better than the game before?
It’s hard to say, but it’s fair to assume that, because of all the pre-match publicity about the allocation cuts, United fans were much more aware of the need to, for example, not block aisles during the match.
Q. What’s the latest?
Mr McIver wrote that in October. He wrote back this week to update us:
“This issue was further discussed at the informal SAG meeting in October and some concern was raised at reports coming from other grounds where United had played this season, but a formal decision was delayed until November.
In November, a special SAG meeting was held to discuss the ticket allocation, at which reports were discussed from other police forces and safety officers from other clubs.
These reports highlighted the fact that the supporters’ behaviour had deteriorated throughout the season to date, with severe problems being reported from recent fixtures.
As a result of these reports, the decision was taken not to increase the ticket allocation and revert to the allocations of the last three seasons (i.e. United will get the lower tier only).”
Q. So how many tickets are United getting?
Q. Do we know specifically what these severe problems are at other games?
We know there were no issues at any away games prior to the end of October, and we know there were issues at the two Chelsea away games, one in the league, one in the cup, so it is likely that that those two games were the focus of the SAGs concerns.
Q. What happened at those games?
We’re not sure what was alleged to have happened at the league game, but United officials have confirmed that, at the cup game, there were four specific incidents.
Q. What were they?
A fan ran onto the pitch, another fan threw a bottle on the pitch, another fan lit a flare and another fan let off a smoke bomb.
Q. Do we know for sure that these were the problems the SAG identified?
No, but we will find out on January 17 when Haringey Council responds to a Reds Away request made using the Freedom of Infomation Act.
Q. So what’s the bottom line?
Fans’ groups have worked tirelessly over the last two years to improve relationships with decision makers and we were going to get 1,000 extra tickets as a result of improving relations, the improving flow of information and the improving behaviour of our fans…but the actions of four idiots has sent us back to square one.
Q. What needs to happen for us to get a full allocation at Tottenham next season?
Keep the aisles clear, don’t throw bottles and leave your flares and smoke bombs at home.