When the suits at the FA decided to build the new Wembley they probably envisaged, or at least hoped, that they would possess a stadium capable of eclipsing that of any other in the country. I imagine the conversation ran something like this: ‘Well Old Trafford stands at around 60,000, let’s make Wembley 90,000, just to be on the safe side.’
Nine years on from that time and Wembley Stadium will soon rather inevitably have to relinquish the mantle of highest capacity football venue in England, or so we are led to believe. Although it’s not gospel and is yet to be comprehensively confirmed, recent news suggests that Old Trafford will soon be extended to 95,000 seats.
Obviously this is fantastic news for supporters in terms of creating more opportunities to see United up close although is it fair to say that ticket prices will fall as a result? I beg to differ.
It is believed that Sir Alex has long lobbied the Glazer family for expansion, urging our American owners to improve the affordability of watching United in hope of attracting a new generation of supporters. Although with ticket prices set to go up even further once again next season, it’s easy to see why fans have voiced their frustrations.
So when the likely developments to the South Stand and presumably the South and East quadrants do take place, can you really foresee a drastic change in club policy?
In all honesty I can’t see why the Glazers wouldn’t want to squeeze every last penny out of us. They aren’t stupid and they know that Manchester United is a club, nay a brand, that has the potential to attract supporters from around the globe and will have little trouble filling even 95,000 seats on a regular basis. So why drop ticket prices when the market will, however begrudgingly, continue to fork out £40 odd a ticket to see the likes of Ronaldo, Rooney et al.
In 2004 the most expensive ticket at Old Trafford was £29. Four years on and that amount has risen to £49. Who knows what the price may be come 2014. A scary thought for the regular match-goer no doubt.
As much as our success on the field has provided an ideal smokescreen for the Glazers, there is no hiding the fact that the club is experiencing elevated levels of debt and that £700 million figure is rising every day.
The cost of stadium expansion will likely surpass the £100 million mark and with the need to maintain consistency on the pitch too, costs could quite worryingly spiral out of control in the future.
Who’s to say that when Sir Alex does eventually decide to call it a day we may initially struggle in a new era and spend a couple of seasons out of the Champions League? Imagine how damaging that could be for the Glazers in generating profit. Imagine the cost of a ticket then…
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