While the result was a great start to 2013 for United, goings on at Wigan were not all rosy.
Here is a Q&A explaining a concerning ticketing system.
Q. How many tickets does the away end at Wigan hold?
Q. And how many tickets have United traditionally got at this match?
Up until about three years ago, 5,200 or so. The rest were left empty to allow stewards and police to move above and control a big crowd – as happens when Wigan play any club with a big following.
Q. So what has been happening of late?
Two seasons ago, United’s allocation fell to around 4,500.
For the same match, an Irish travel firm called Celtic Horizons sold ticket and travel packages in the away end.
Reds Away and others complained to the Premier League after the fixture.
Q. Did it happen again last season?
Well, Celtic Horizons put packages on sale (way before the allocation was set), but when Reds Away and others brought this to the attention of the Premier League, packages were taken off sale and Celtic Horizons wrote to customers claiming the tickets could no longer be sold because police had ordered a deduction in United’s allocation.
However, police told Reds Away they had not ordered such a deduction.
Q. What allocation did United get?
Q. Were all the away-end tickets all sold by United?
No. Wigan sold an unknown number of hospitality packages for the away end.
Q. What did you get for your money?
For £125, you got a meal in the hospitality suite beneath the away end and a ticket for the match.
Q. Where was the ticket for?
In a particular block of the away end – with no segregation from those who got tickets from United.
Q. Is this allowed?
Reds Away’s interpretation of Premier League ticketing rules is that only the away team can sell tickets in the away end.
It complained to the Premier League about this practise and the Premier League replied to say it had no concerns.
Q. So what happened this season?
United got 3,951 tickets.
Q. But that would mean 1,467 seats would be empty, yet anyone who took a look at the away end today would have seen it was pretty full, What gives?
Wigan again sold packages in the away end at £125 - but they seem to have stepped up this…a lot.
It’s fair to say about 1,000 tickets were sold this way, possibly more.
Q. So what is wrong with this?
First, if someone from the away end lit a flare, ran on the pitch or threw a bottle on the pitch, safety authority would be extremely likely to cut United’s allocation at the next game at Wigan.
So United would suffer an allocation cut due to the behaviour of someone who may have got their tickets through Wigan.
Second, United has a loyalty system in place which gives season ticket holders access to away tickets.
This is widely accepted as being fair, whereas the idea of someone who has no season ticket (or membership for that matter) with United can stump up £125 and get in the away end is unfair.
If we let it go, other clubs may do the same.
Q. Which other clubs could do the same?
It’s worth noting that, according to Premier League rules, clubs must give visiting clubs 3,000 tickets or 10-per-cent of the stadium’s seats, whichever is the lower figure.
That means Wigan only have to give us 2,513, so they are not breaking any rules by only giving us 3,951 (even though they give other clubs 5,000).
Only clubs that could stick to these allocation rules and then have leftover seats after selling to its own season ticket holders and members could do this. Fulham is a good example.
Q. But back to Wigan. How did the Premier League respond to Reds Away’s complaint?
“We have looked into this issue in the past.
However, Wigan are not contravening any Premier League rules and we are not aware of any problems caused by the selling of these hospitality tickets.
When these fixtures have been played in recent years, the fans in the area reserved for those in the hospitality (area) were observed to see if their behaviour was causing any problems.
In fact, the reverse turned out to be true and their behaviour was fine . (Ed – by this, we assume they mean those who got their tickets through United misbehaved).
We don’t quite understand your point about there being segregation between these two groups of fans as it is our understanding that, while both clubs know where these fans are sitting (so that they can both monitor it) they are not segregated from each other.
If these fans were to to be seated in the home end, then there could be problems between home and away fans and we always work to the principle that people should be able to be seated among their own fans and it is safer for them.”
Q. Is that a fair reply?
No. It is written by someone who has absolutely no knowledge of United’s away support…and seemingly, little common sense.
Anyone with experience of a United away end knows that – rightly or wrongly – people will go and stand near their friends, whether it’s in the hospitality block or not.
If the Premier League representative is suggesting that all those who bought hospitality packages would have gone to their seat and stood by it for the game – and that they were observed, that is an incredibly naive assumption.
Reds Away replied making this point and has had no reply.
Q. What has MUST said?
Its chief executive officer Duncan Drasdo said:
“Wigan Athletic have decided (not for the first time) to treat Manchester United fans differently to those of all other clubs.
“Instead of offering the usual away allocation of over 5,000 tickets behind one goal, the club has decided to lower this allocation to less than 4,000 and then fill the rest via their own website (rather than via Manchester United) to away fans paying £125 each to have a meal and ticket combined.
We believe this to be unjustifiable and believe that any away fan in the stadium, let alone in the away stand without segregation between them and the official visitors section, should be ticketed directly by Manchester United.
It is a precedent that is now being copied by other clubs when Manchester United visit, as seen at Bolton and Fulham last season too.”
Mr Drasdo said he would raise the matter with the Premier League at a future meeting.
Q. What have Wigan said?
They didn’t reply to a Reds Away request.
Q. What have United said?
Nothing as yet, but we know that, unlike last season, United did not provide Wigan with a list of executive members to sell the hospitality packages to, indicating United do not approve.
Q. What can I do?
Email your thoughts to the Premier League at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email your thoughts to Wigan at email@example.com
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