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United hold fans to ransom for derby tickets

That's a lovely derby ticket you have there, season ticket holder. Wouldn't it be a shame if something ... happened to it?

Michael Regan

Timing is everything. So, if you've just turned in the worst European performance since ... well, for a while, it's probably not a great time to be sending your most stalwart supporters emails demanding money or else ...

The first thing to note is that this isn't really news, as such. The Automatic Cup Ticket scheme has been around in one form or another since 2007 and has been generally hated since then. Various other clubs operate similar schemes, allowing fans to automatically buy cup tickets, though they crucially don't require them for season ticket renewals in the same way as United do. Changes were made in 2008 after a group of fans reported United to the Office for Fair Trading, but the fundamental principle remains: if you don't buy tickets for all cup games, you don't get tickets for the league games.

Still, guys, timing. There are also rumours floating about that United will extend the scheme into next season's Europa League, should United qualify, and will do so at the same prices, which would doubtless go down just as well, and just as pleasingly, as Ashley Young.

The second thing to note is that the policy in itself is, of course, pretty low. United tickets are expensive things, and forcing the loyalest fans to pay extra or else lost their tickets is about a clear exhibition of totally legal exploitation as one could hope to find. You care? Good. Give us all your money, because we don't care about you.

The third thing to note is that this is a total PR nightmare, and since United do care about things like that, there is the possibility of some kind of one-off relaxation if enough people get all angry and loud. That said, they might just point at the terms and conditions and laugh.

The final thing to note is that missing the home game against Manchester City might, given everything at the moment, be a blessing. Because, well, they're pretty good, and United are really, really bad.