Man Utd fans seek government help over ticket prices

A Manchester United fans' group want Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe to help halt the spiralling cost of Premier League tickets.

Sutcliffe, a United supporter, hit the headlines last month and irked Sir Alex Ferguson in the process when he condemned the cost of admission to Old Trafford and claimed many lifelong fans were being priced out of supporting their club.

However, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), the group formerly known as Shareholders United, have taken up the baton and, in an open letter, pleaded with Sutcliffe to intervene.

"We believe the time has come for the Government to intervene over ticket prices," said MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo.

"Club owners have been given ample time to put their own house in order and bring prices under control and yet price increases have actually accelerated to unprecedented levels.

"This has created hardship for many long-term supporters (as well as potential new fans) who have given loyalty to their club for so many years only to be rewarded with an ultimatum to pay up or be replaced by someone else who can.

"We understand that the Government sees intervention as the last resort but we believe that the case for such intervention is now overwhelming."

Drasdo pointed to clubs' 'dominant market position' as a major factor behind the increasing costs, with owners exploiting the fact fans do not switch brands.

In particular, MUST feel United's controversial 'automatic cup scheme' which forces season ticket holders to sign an agreement which means they pay for tickets to all cup games whether they want to attend or not, is grossly unfair.

"Like any other market where a business has a monopoly or dominant position the solution to protect the consumer is to apply regulation," continued Drasdo.

"We believe that consumers (supporters) are clearly being exploited and that the only solution is regulation of both prices and the terms and conditions.

"With your (Sutcliffe's) previous experience at the Department of Trade and Industry as Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs you must surely be uniquely well placed to argue the case for such regulation and strike a historic blow for the ordinary football supporter."

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