United fans consider protest over cost of Midtjylland ticket

LONDON • Manchester United fans are planning to protest against being asked to pay £71 (S$143) per ticket for their Europa League away match against Danish league winners Midtjylland today, according to reports in the British media.

Southampton fans paid £22 per ticket when their team travelled to play Midtjylland in the Europa League play-off round in August and some 800 United fans will display banners to indicate their dissatisfaction with the price being charged at the 11,800-capacity MCH Arena, which, due to Uefa regulations, will be below 10,000 for the match.

"Seventy-one pounds to watch a Europa League match is extortionate," Andy Mitten, editor of the United We Stand fanzine, said. "The combined cost of all three tickets for Manchester United's Champions League away games was only £75. Do they think United fans are three times wealthier than Southampton fans? Midtjylland are ripping fans off - their own and the 800 travelling fans."

The only direct flights from Manchester to Billund, the nearest airport to the ground in Herning, are available at £321 return.

Given that fans will have to pay up to £100 to reach Herning and hotels are charging up to £320 for a room, a two-night trip to Denmark could cost well over £1,000.

Duncan Drasco, chief executive of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Trust, described Midtjylland's stand on pricing as a "real slap in the face".

"Clubs need to accept they are not selling tickets in a normal competitive market as fan loyalty means each club is an effective monopoly so they shouldn't be applying normal supply and demand economics," he said.

Cliff Crown, a director at Midtjylland, defended the £71 ticket price, saying the game is the Danish club's "Cup final".

Crown, also the Brentford chairman, told Talksport: "We are only a small club in a small region of Denmark and this is our Cup final, so we have to make the most of our opportunity."

Last week, Liverpool's owners abandoned plans to raise the price of the most expensive match-day ticket to £77 next season after supporters staged a walkout protest during their home game against Sunderland on Feb 6.

Juergen Klopp returns to Germany for the first time as Liverpool manager today, hunting a Europa League win at Augsburg in his bid to quench the Reds' thirst for silverware.

Fans have clamoured for tickets for the round-of-32, first-leg clash at the WWK Arena in Bavaria to see Liverpool, who are unbeaten in their six European games under Klopp and buoyed by Sunday's 6-0 thrashing of Aston Villa.

Augsburg received 5,000 applications for just 2,000 away tickets for the game, a 26,160 sell-out.

Said Klopp: "(For Augsburg) Liverpool would have been an exciting enough draw, without a German coach (being involved). The stadium would have already been full."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

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Midtjylland v Manchester United:
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2016, with the headline 'United fans consider protest over cost of Midtjylland ticket'. Print Edition | Subscribe