ARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mata.

Mata.

Save us Juan Mata, you’re our only hope.

Save us Juan Mata, you’re our only hope.

An exclusive look at the Manchester United Advent Calendar.

An exclusive look at the Manchester United Advent Calendar.

Tru dat!

Tru dat!

You can’t help but get excited about this boy, his balance & poise are so natural that he makes the game look easy. The only thing lacking simplicity is the pronunciation of his name. ADD-AM JAN-YOU-AIRY.

You can’t help but get excited about this boy, his balance & poise are so natural that he makes the game look easy. The only thing lacking simplicity is the pronunciation of his name. ADD-AM JAN-YOU-AIRY.

Tom’s taking ‘The Brand’ too far.

Tom’s taking ‘The Brand’ too far.

Opinion: “You only sing when you’re franchised!”

Many fans have been pushed to the wayside since the inception of the Premier League. Some have been ‘priced out’, others have been left feeling as though the game itself has been prised from their hands and treated like a product, rather than a ‘birth right’ passed down from father to son. 

After 30+ Years traveling home and away with the Red army - this fan handed back his Season Ticket - disillusioned by the game and the way that money had taken precedent over everything. 

Here’s his take on the proposed ‘Singing section’ and why the problems at Old Trafford run deeper than an apparent lack of passion amongst the home support.

 

Monday May 3rd 1993, Manchester United played Blackburn Rovers at Old Trafford. That weekend and the game against Rovers will be rightly remembered, for United ending a 26 years of almost and not quites by winning the Football League. There were two other milestones that evening which are largely overlooked. Firstly, we all got to see Pally score his 1st goal of the season, one in which he and Bruce were impeccable in every way (conceding only 34 goals in the league). Less tongue in cheek was in reference to East Lower where I legally stood for the last time at Old Trafford. That was the last game of the season & Thatchers legacy for all-seater stadia had finally caught up with United. The stretty long gone, the paddocks and United Road all history, just a small section to the front / left of the scoreboard paddock remained as a reminder of the fortress that I had been making pilgrimages to for circa 20 years.
 

All of the big clubs had grounds with their own bastion of hardcore support. In reality all four corners at Old Trafford (and everything in-between) were populated with tens of thousands of fanatics who all shared the ideology and religion that was and still remains Manchester United FC. Women, men, children, priests; it didn’t matter who you were. We were all equals, defenders of the faith and for many’ that visit to the temple was their raison d’être. As (initially) the Stretford End was redeveloped, supporters relocated to the remaining terraced areas or reluctantly accepted the inevitable of seating (and in the case of many, found a new home in what is K stand, either staying there or moving back to a much changed Stretford End). The removal of terracing and the camaraderie that came with it had some impact on the atmosphere at Old Trafford, but didn’t make United any less of an intimidating place to be. People had moved, but kept or made new friends, there were now less of us in the ground, but we were still as vociferous.
 

As the years passed by, top-flight football would see all grounds become sterile places of false worship. Many of those fanatical defenders of the faith and their bloodlines priced out / pushed out and replaced by day-trippers, tourists and hospitality organisations. United’s heart traded out for those who had no concept of the history, culture or the soul for that we all lived ate and breathed. Crudely exchanged for those who recognised only the value of or wanted to be part of the brand that was Manchester United. These were and continue to be the ideal customers for the clubs owners. And so the games where the 12th man made a difference confined to spurts of excitement during the games now or memories of great days long gone.
 

And so, this week plans have been resurrected to develop a singing section at Old Trafford……. Excuse me?? I know that the atmosphere is shockingly bad, but what does it say about today’s supporter if you need to be in an allocated part of the ground to feel that you will make a difference to the acoustics? Location inside Old Trafford is not the issue; it’s about passion. And if you can’t / won’t bring this to OT and have a desire to get behind the shirts (wherever you are sitting), then staying at home is where you belong. If you really need a singing section to get yourself going, then you need to ask questions as to why you are really there.
 
There is a fans forum which have been lobbying for the singing section and in 2012 advised that they’d been discussing (in the name of me and you) the relocation of the away supporters up to tier 3 of the Sir Alex Ferguson stand. Let’s discuss that in a moment, but the concept of a “successful fans forum” is an oxymoron of the most blatantly obvious. I recall back in the late 1990’s when the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA) were engaged in many (at the time private) meetings with officials within the club. The main topics for discussions were always for fairer / more affordable ticket pricing and for an open stance in support of safe standing and improved away allocations (including internal distribution of tickets). Now it became very clear that whilst the club recognised the strength in support of IMUSA, they simply strung everyone along. Ticket prices increased at exponential rates, reduced success in ballots for away games and a reliance on executive allocations became the norm. The reason I bring IMUSA into this when discussing the fans forum group is because IMUSA had the support of the majority of regular (disenfranchised) match going supporters and the 3 main fanzine groups and still failed to put a dent into the business plans of the machine that was Manchester United and her desire to maximise the £££££££ they could bleed from everyone of us.
 

I’m fully supportive of any fan-based organisation as long as they have a clear and constitutionally approved set of objectives and that the benefits impact on the majority and not the minority. The relocation of away support will be a killer blow to the already fragile atmosphere. I know many take offence at the current location, but let’s be honest; the abuse, vitriol, envy and emotion that emanates from the away support is very often the catalyst that stimulates activity all round the ground. Am I the only one who sees the irony in exulting the benefits of a singing section when lobbying to relocate (to the gods) the one section that is guaranteed to generate an atmosphere amongst United supporters. Relocate the away support to Tier 3 will destroy an already fragile ecosystem in the ground
 

Back on May 3rd 1993, my ticket (in that last piece of terracing) at Old Trafford cost £10, today’s price is circa £30. I remember paying in on the gate 10 years earlier (Stretford Paddock) when we played Spurs on a Friday night. I was under 15, it cost me pennies and I was surrounded by people who wanted and needed to be there. Creating a singing section at Old Trafford or relocating the away support is not going to improve atmosphere. What’s needed is to ensure that those who do have a genuine desire and dyed in the wool passion get the opportunity to share that and at a price that’s affordable
 

However romantic it may be to want a football club that cares about those who have been disenfranchised or priced out of the game, the reality is that finding ways to get these supporters back alongside the rest of us and leaving the away supporters alone, is the only way that consistent atmosphere can be developed / achieved / grown.