A couple of brief things this morning. First up, Manchester United, who might just find themselves up in court before a judge over their treatment of their season ticket holders. The reason for the dispute is straightforward. Defenders of the Glazer family and Manchester United often defend the the club by pointing out that United season tickets are still amongst the cheapest in the Premiership. The answer that is, basically, yes and no.
When you buy a Manchester United season ticket for all of their matches in the Premiership, you have to buy membership of ACS (the Automatic Cup Ticket Scheme). In other words, when you buy a Manchester United season ticket, you effectively have to buy another one, which makes you purchase a ticket for every cup match that United play throughout the course of the season. Never mind if you can’t afford it, or if you can’t get up to Old Trafford. Tough. Never mind if you don’t want to go and watch the youth team play a League Cup Third Round match against Mansfield. As far as United are concerned, if you buy a season ticket, you have to buy a season ticket for every single match. There is an option to sell the tickets via a company called “Viagogo” (who operate on behalf of Manchester United themselves), but this cannot be done until United have sold all of their own tickets for a match, and they charge a 25% commission for it.
The matter has been referred to the local County Court by a man who has been told that his season ticket renewal has been rejected because he will not pay an extra £500 for the anticpated cup matches that United will have next season. United are already down 6,000 season tickets sales (though this, of course, has been made up by the waiting list at Old Trafford). Out with the old, in with the new. Of course, I should take the opportunity to point out that there is a cheap alternative to Manchester United in the city, who wear the same colours and have almost the same name. More interestingly still, Consumer Direct and the Office Of Fair Trading have been invited to the hearing with a view to gathering evidence for a wider reaching investigation. As I said on here before, football likes the free market when it suits football, but at all other times it acts as a cartel, and this is, in principle, what United are doing now. United might get knocked out in the first match they play in every cup competition this season, or they might make the finals of all of them and get home draws in each. They are demanding that their supporters sign a contract that they don’t even know the cost of. Pleasingly despicable behaviour from the club that I still can’t help but rate as Britain’s most nefarious.
Secondly, Iraq 3-1 Australia. In the Asian Cup. There couldn’t be a much more satisfying result to read now, could there? Fair enough, two of Iraq’s goals came from horrific mistakes (one by Mark Schwarzer and the second by Lucas Neill), but still. This time last year, much was made of Australia’s inevitable rise to footballing greatness, but I’m starting to suspect that their performance in Germany last summer might have been the exception rather than the rule. They still have great players (and, as I pointed out before, they have taken a very strong squad with them for this competition), but was their relative success last summer more down to the organistation and coaching of Guus Hiddinck? I suspect that it might have been, and this makes me even more despondent over the fact that he is not now the England coach.