30,000 Man United fans may ditch season tickets

More than 30,000 of Manchester United's 55,000 season ticket holders could be considering giving up their Old Trafford seats, a survey has shown.

A staggering 59% of the Red Devils fans polled said they may not renew their season tickets for the 2010/11 season - making them the Premier League club at risk of losing the most season ticket holders - with 44% saying they may now only buy tickets occasionally and when it suits them, with the other 15% revealing they may give up going to United games entirely.

Meanwhile, 54% of Wolves season ticket holders are considering cancelling, making the West Midlands side the Premier League club with the second highest percentage, with fellow Premier League new boys Burnley third with 31%.

The research, compiled by Virgin Money, shows that 25% of Premier League season ticket holders are considering not renewing at the end of the current campaign, while 4% are planning on stopping attending games altogether.

Malcolm Clarke, Chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, said: "[Premier League] season tickets are still priced astronomically compared with other major European leagues such as Spain, Italy and Germany.

"At many clubs there's little or no recognition of loyalty in the prices charged compared with buying match by match.

“Prices for essentials like food, rents, transport and petrol are going up and football fans like everybody else are struggling with frozen or declining pay and unemployment. Clubs need to bear this in mind when setting next season's prices.”

However United’s place at the head of the table isn’t just down to the current financial climate, with a large number of the club’s fans vocal in their disapproval of the way they club is being run by the Glazer family.

The three-time European champions have been saddled with massive debts since their takeover in 2005, and as a result ticket prices at Old Trafford have risen significantly.

Some fans have also spoken out against a scheme which forces season ticket holders to buy tickets for all cup matches over the course of the season.

The Automatic Cup Ticket scheme (ACT), which provides season ticket holders with tickets for all Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup matches at Old Trafford, was introduced in 2007 and has proven costly for United’s fans, with Wednesday’s Champions League tie with AC Milan the 29th cup match played at Old Trafford in the three seasons since.

Clarke added: "Shamefully Manchester United was the only Premier League club that put up their prices for the current season. Every other club froze or reduced them. They also sold Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Huge numbers of United fans are in open revolt against the Glazer family's huge cash drain on the club.

“They're paying the price for the leveraged buy-out in 2005 that has loaded a massive £700 million debt onto United's books. The Glazer regime has put up ticket prices by half in less than five years. No wonder almost six out of 10 Old Trafford season ticket holders are thinking of not renewing."

The research shows that, despite their relatively poor season and own misgivings regarding ownership, Liverpool fans are the least likely to cancel their season tickets.

Just 9% of those surveyed said they were considering it, putting the Anfield side bottom of the table alongside Stoke City.

Percentage of fans considering not renewing season tickets:

Man Utd  59%
Wolves  54%
Burnley  31%
Fulham  29%
Everton  28%
Blackburn  28%
Portsmouth  28%
West Ham  27%
Aston Villa  24%
Sunderland  23%
Wigan  21%
Tottenham  19%
Man City  18%
Birmingham  17%
Chelsea  17%
Hull  17%