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Are Wigan really showing reds hospitality?

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?

5,418

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?

Roughly 4,000.

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?

Two things:

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?

Three things:
Email your thoughts to the Premier League at info@premierleague.com

Email your thoughts to Wigan at club32@wiganathletic.com

Take part in the poll on the left of our website.

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36 comments to Are Wigan really showing reds hospitality?

  • Tufty

    Given the nmber of empty seats at wigan, there should be a push for these exec seats tobe located in the end block of the stand to the left of the away end. A large chunk of that block is unused due to safety mesh in place.
    When Wigan played in the Championship, they gave the bigger clubs the full side stand.

    Fulham have changed their policy this year with regards to the neutral section. For our game, this will be a Fulham members area, with tickets only sold to fulham memebers. Given that is the case, it would be worth investigating what the segregation is. When it was a neutral area, fans could pass between the neutral end and the away end and also used the same turnstiles.

  • Tony

    Is the situation at Fulham not more suspect? Lack of segregation between aways and “neutrals” is baffling, and we all know most of that “neutral section is either home or away.

  • Oli

    Agree Tufty. The PL letter back to Vitty suggests they see this as less safe, but there is no reason it could not be a segregated section of corporate tickets in the other stand, which as you say was empty yesterday anyway. Furthermore, it should make financial sense to Wigan to do this as they could sell 5k to us AND corporate seats rather than thopse 5k having to be for both.

    The PL letter, urging for away corporate seats to be in hospitality, also then contradicts what Fulham do, which is to not offer any segregation at all. It blatantly obviously that it is impossible to segregate the concourse areas, as you need to walk across the neutral (and now Fulham member bit) to get to the away end. And if you cannot segregate that, then clearly there is no point of only having segregation in the seats (which they probably won’t have anyway). It seems that is deemed safe until something goes horribly wrong, rather than forseeing the problem before.

    However, the concern we should have with both Fulham and Wigan is that they both give us more than they have to anyway, and if we annoy them enough (especially Fulham) we could end up with way less tickets still within PL rules. Fulham always give us well above the 10% rules, and so what they do with the rest is up to them, albeit VERY annoying that they only have a different policy when United are in town 9and I guess Chelsea).

  • zenith

    Bolton have had a go at doing this too I seem to recall.

  • Tufty

    Its a different issue with Bolton. They reduce our allocation as a result of standing and dont provide us with the upper tier. (The allocation is probably within the entitlement). They then sell the upper tier as a package deal. The difference with Bolton, is that the area used is completely seperate to the United end.

    When Spurs reduce our allocation, they shouldnt be allowed to sell those seats to their own fans.

  • lawman10

    just been reading yesterdays programme and wigan are doing a £30.00 + vat package for their fa cup tie v bournemouth this sat a 2 course meal vip seat and programme for this price.a good deal for a day out if you are a neutral.so if their intentions are to reduce our allocation next year should they stay up and sell the rest of the tickets as a package they should consider the number of empty seats in the home sections in what is usually their biggest crowd of the season and as suggested sell a section of these to united supporters willing to pay £125.00 and give the full 5,200 back to those of us who just want to go to the game should we be succesful in the ballot.if you can sell out your away end easily but cant sell all your home tickets and you have got away fans willing to pay £125.00 for a package and can accomodate these supporters with segration and a few extra stewards its a no brainer really on wigans part.

  • vitty

    Lawman – it’s not that simple (though I appreciate it should be).

    Each season, the DW Stadium gets a safety certificate from the local council.

    The certificate effectively says the stadium is safe when certain criteria are met.

    Those criteria will be the same for every home game (i.e. only home fans can go in the South/West/East Stands).

    If they were to change that, they’d have to go back to the council to get a new safety certificate, draw up plans for how various turnstiles/toilets/catering facilities could be divided up between home and away and persuade the police that it would be safe.

    Plus, it would probably mean moving season ticket holders to different seats and that wouldn’t go down well at all with the locals.

  • Oli

    Vitty,

    Appreciate all that but it is all pretty overcome able. Plenty of clubs move or extend away areas all the time, so dealing with that is not rocket science.

    Also, they shouldn’t need to move any ST holders as the wings of the stand to our right yesterday (and actually the final block on our left too) were empty anyway.

    Oli

  • lawman10

    many teams have to move fans st holders included for cup ties including ourselves as oli says any safety issues would be could be overcome wigan are not looking at the bigger picture in terms of more revenue and filling the stadium it might also create a better atmosphere and wigan fans might actually sing!

  • nick

    who ever was selling half utd/wigan scarfs yesterday was making a killing you could tell in the utd end who the day tripers was, oli or vitty didn’t wigan last season give newcastle 7000 tickets all behind the net and 2000 seats in the main stand next to the away end think it might have been the last game of the season or near the end ???

  • Oli

    I doubt that Nick as stand behind goal has 5400 seats so putting 7k in there unlikely.

  • Tommy

    Off topic slightly, were is the best places for United fans to meet up before the game on saturday

  • wayne

    Tommy go in the boleyn, you should have fun in there.

  • nick

    re oli – Newcastle’s crucial clash with relegation threatened Wigan Athletic on Saturday 28th April (kick off 3pm) is now sold out after the Toon Army snapped up all 5,000 seats for the away section at the DW Stadium ensuring Alan Pardews Champions League hopefuls will yet again be given tremendous backing on their travels. However, after discussions with Wigan Athletic and Greater Manchester Police it has been agreed that a further 2 sections of the Boston East Stand (blocks ES2 and ES3), adjacent to the official away stand will be also allocated to Newcastle supporters via cash turnstiles priced at £25 (no concessions). this was off a newcastle forum oli

    This will allow for a maximum of 7,000 visiting supporters and will reduce the risk of away fans buying tickets in the home sections of the stadium. We regret that no tickets can be sold in advance for these areas and entry will be strictly on a first come basis. In the event that the extra allocation is over subscribed on the day no further tickets will be made available for Newcastle United supporters.

  • nick

    my point is oli why can’t wigan do this with us and still use there snide hospitalty package, there seems to be getting more empty seats in the home end at wigan think the only time it was sold out was in 2008 when we won there, theres never any trouble at wigan it would be nice to get a big allocation like we use to at blackburn and wigan will still be making money selling more tickets

  • Paul

    Wigan also do this for other clubs, for instance, Liverpool.

  • Tufty

    With regards to the poll, I would rather have another 1,500 United fans in the away end, than 1,500 empty seats, even if sold via Wigan.
    The ideal situation is for the full allocation and execs to have a seperate area of the stadium.

    Bournemouth fans can oay on the gate at wigan on sat.

  • Higgo

    Dead right Nick. That did happen with Newcastle and yet they don’t seem to cooperate when its United.

  • Oli

    I agree Nick. I was just replying to yoru specific point that they had 7k fans behind the goal, rather than 5k behind goal, and 2k to the sides which they should have done for us too.

    I’d be interested to know if Wigan have safety reasons for this, because commercially it helps both them and us to sell us more tickets. Given how many other clubs are fed up with our fans and are prepared to lose revenue to have less of us descend om their stadium, that could well be the reason for Wigan too. However, it is usually friendly and I’ve not seen any trouble there, so not sure why they’d pick on us (whereas I am more sympathetic to why other clubs are fed up with us).

  • Tufty

    Oli, always a large number of United fans in the home ends. Thats probably the case as well when they play a local side.
    Wigan obviously want to strike a balance between full stands of away fans and having enough of their own supprt/singing ect spread around the stadium.
    Must have been horrible for the home players when they gave the full side to away fans, almost like playing away.

    1,500 execs on a side block wouldnt effect that at all and would be easy to segregate both insode and out. Wigan always have a check point before the turnstyles outside.

  • Oli

    Totally agree with you Tufty, although some clubs (and managers) prefer to have their own fans to be behind both goals and prefer away fans at the sides. Martin O’Neill specifically asked for the away section at Villa to be moved, not sure it helped their results though! I know that is different to giving an entire side, rather than under half, to the away team, but they should at least consider it.

  • Fraudulent

    Newcastle didn’t get any seats down the side, it didn’t happen despite what internet talk says. To be fair to Wigan, their tickets are the most reasonably priced we’ll find this season and they still give us more than they are obliged to. The exec thing is frustrating but we don’t help ourselves by standing all the time and giving clubs reasons to distribute away tickets in other ways. It’s a bit arrogant of us to assume that the home club should dilute their home advantage by giving clubs with larger away followings half of the ground. I’d prefer Wigan giving us 4,000 at £28 to the likes of Norwich taking the piss with £50 tickets any day.

  • Mike L

    Was sat in the Wigan Section – it was like being at the Emirates. No noise, no singing and empty seats for long periods.

  • vitty

    Good point about the Wigan – Newcastle game, Nick, but my recollection of that game was, while Wigan wanted to give Newcastle an extra 2,000 seats in one of the stands on the halfway line, it never happened as the police blocked it.

  • wayne

    I remember the game and I also vaguely remember Wigan refusing to give an increased allocation to Newcastle, with Newcastle warning there fans not to travel. here is the article i read.

    Newcastle warn ticketless fans not to travel to Wigan clash Latics officials fear that Magpies fans will buy tickets in the home end after the DW Stadium outfit refused to increase their 4,500 away allocation

    Earlier in the week, boss Alan Pardew issued a rallying cry to supporters to get behind the Magpies in the remaining games as they look to secure Champions League football.

    Yet, with the Toon looking to extend their winning run to seven games, it is thought that the 4,500 away ticket allocation given by the Latics will not be enough to accomodate those who applied.

    With Wigan officials worried that away fans will choose to buy tickets in the home end to attend the game, Newcastle issued a statement warning fans not to travel without a ticket.

    The statement read: “With regards to our Barclays Premier League fixture at Wigan on Saturday, Newcastle United would like to make it known that all tickets for the away section of the DW Stadium have sold out.
    “As with all away fixtures, we would like to remind our fans not to travel to the North West for this weekend’s game unless you have a match ticket for the away section of the stadium.”

  • Oli

    Fraudulent, I agree with that. But, if for example you take Tufty’s suggestion, putting 1250 VIP away fans at the end of the stand to the side (currently roped off with no one there at all) it wouldn’t really give any more advantage to the away team at all.

    I do agree with you that perspective is needed, Wigan give us more than they have to when others cannot even manage to give us the 10% we are allowed. Among them, some are transparent with their safety reasons, but others won’t even give us an explanation, and that is the biggest gripe for me.

    I think the reason the Wigan thing agrieves people is that, as United fans, we are shafted more than other fans on tickets to begin with (price banding, more home fan demand etc) and so when a whole new wave of penalising us comes along (with hme clubs selling away tickets) we need to nip it in the bud. Wigamn, Bolton, Fulham have started this trend of cashing in themselves on VIP away section tickets, surely others will see it as sensible and follow on too. Anyone who gives us more than 10% now could do this (Blackburn won’t be coming up for a while but they are a good example). QPR also gave us way over 10% last season and didn’t need to.

  • lawman10

    while the likes of chelsea ,city,arsenal,everton have all took over 4000 to wigan this season and west ham just under 4000 none of these supporters or anyone else has been treated any differently apart from us but none of these have sold out the 5,400 capacity in the away end.My point being with our away support demand always exceeds supply so wigan could give us the full allocation and still sell another 1,000+ of these packages in seats adjacent to the away end to people willing to pay £125.00 putting another 2450 {minumum} on the gate above the 3950 tickets allocated to united >I dont agree with what they are doing but if they are not breaking any rules then they will continue to do it but why should we be treated any different?

  • Oli

    Agree lawman10 but if WE do not seek to change those rules, who will?

    We have always had motivated fans willing to stand up and be counted on these issues. MUSt has put specific issue of away fans not ticketed by the away club on agenda for next PL trust meeting, which PL staff usually also attend. This Wigan story is part of a wider problem that we have to try and solve.

  • nick

    off topic oli i asked you a question a few weeks ago when was the last time utd was not on tv for an fa cup game, tomorrow will be the 36th fa cup tie in a row utd have been on tv lol, hopefully we can go on a good run this year and win it were long due an fa cup win

  • Oli

    Thanks Nick, that’s interesting,

    Hope we win too, but league is a massive priority and won’t mind too much if we rest a few players who played a lot over x,as.

  • Olesrightfoot

    Fulham have not changed their general approach this season. Every year they sell to ST holders and then members after. What has changed is the number of tickets allowed per member. This year it’s four, last year it was six. It seems to depend on Fulhams season/supply/demand. I’ve been a member at Fulham for the last 5 years just to ensure I get tickets (as are many other reds it seems). The neutral end is 80-900% United and a mix of what i would class as traditional travelling reds and others. I’ve never seen a problem but Fulham is maybe one of the few clubs whereby nobody really dislikes them and vice versa (Chelsea excepted)so it’s probably a unique scenario. Plus you can just walk into the United away ticket stands anyway if you want to – not that reds ever sit in the wrong seats!!

  • Olesrightfoot

    that should be 90! not 900%

  • Patrick

    Didn’t they used to sell the tickets on Viagogo though or have I dreamt that?

  • Olesrightfoot

    I checked straight after they went on sale – they were sold out very soon after the 9am sale start – and it wasn’t advertising any via Viagogo. Maybe some went on sale in the past but the last few years in particular they’ve sold out immediately when on sale to members

  • Oli

    Olesrightfootm

    That’s not correct.

    Last season, the Putney End neutral tickets went directly on sale to non members (first come first serve general sale) to people via Seatwave. This season the neutral end is on sale to members only.

    What you are saying applies to the rest of the stadium but that section next tot he neutral end used to always be on general sale, and is for most other games this season too apart from MUFC and Chelsea.

    Oli

  • Oli

    Fulham allocation confirmed as 2881. They gave us more than that last season. Nearer 4k from memory.