Manchester United Football Club along with certain fan group organisations have come to the decision to kick out 1,600 long standing season ticket holders in J stand to make way for a new ‘singing section’ that will be put in place from the 2014/15 season in an attempt to improve the atmosphere at Old Trafford.
During the 2013/14 season the club trialled a singing section in 2 matches at Old Trafford. One in L stand, which is the current stand in which away supporters are located, against Real Sociedad and another against Fulham, where the trial moved over to J stand.
Personally, we were interested to see how the singing section would unfold and made sure that we took part in both trials by requesting from the ticket office to be included. The atmosphere during the first trial against Real Sociedad in L stand was fantastic, with the away fans being moved into their overflow allocation location of East Stand Tier 2. The noise seemed to travel both ways from L stand around to K stand and also travelling around South Stand, which is renowned from having a poor atmosphere due to high priced season tickets along with the inclusion of a executive and press area.
The second trial was put in place against Fulham, in which the club and fans group moved it over to J stand to test the ‘acoustics’ – Many fans from the Stretford End came over for the trail which can only be described as a failure all round. Rather than a collective noise coming from one area, there were patches of fans at the front and back that were singing Manchester United songs at different times, speeds and at times different song altogether.
The first trial on a European football night was great, many long standing reds moving to a section that was FREE rather than moving people out of their seats, singing old and current Manchester United chants, compared to the second trial in which it seemed to be more younger reds that would see it as being a ‘cool’ thing to be involved in, many of which were on their smart phones throughout the match and constantly trying to get ‘kicking a blue’ being sung. To conclude, the second trial in J stand was nothing more than awful, not helped by Darren Bent’s 90th-minute equaliser.
After the Fulham game and second singing section trial, Manchester United sent out a survey to all those that had taken part to fill in to gage a response on how those felt the trial went and how it would be received if it was to become a permanent fixture within Old Trafford from next season. Now, we can only gage the response that was to the survey on social media and Twitter, which is safe to say was less than positive to the club and fans groups involved. Especially at the thought of moving long standing season ticket holders out of their seats full stop.
Survey responses, many thought would be enough for the club to reconsider any thoughts of relocating season ticket holders, or having time to think about the possibility on working with police to relocate away supporters to a location where not as many fans would have to move, such at North Stand Tier 3, the highest stand in Old Trafford. Many other Barclays Premier League and European clubs put the travelling support high up in, what is seen as the worst seats. This would not be a problem to do so at Old Trafford either, which was trialled with the Aston Villa support a few years back, passing with no trouble or hassle on the police report that was submitted back to Manchester United.
Manchester United however, released the information on their website the night before FC Bayern Munich away in the UEFA Champions League, that the decision had been made to make the signing section permanent in J Stand and will be in affect from the start of the 2014/15 season. Moving those that currently sit in J stand out, with the club trying to relocate them to anywhere else in the ground.
United Ramble understands that the clubs articled release on the Official website was sent live three days early by mistake, with the club planning to communicate with those currently in J stand before releasing the information public. This was a massive fail from the club and fans groups, with most in J stand having to find out that they will be turfed out on the website with no direct phone call, letter or email from the ticket office.
In due course, Manchester United did send out letters to those in J stand explaining the clubs decision and what the ticket office will do to help relocations. Including; moving to anywhere else in Old Trafford for the same price as J Stand for next season, which is £722. Free domestic cup games that are drawn at home and 25% off any (if qualify) Europa League matches.
Now you may think that the above is acceptable, the club are giving those fans something free for moving, whats the problem?
The problem is that there are many fans in the 1,600 that the club are trying to move that have sat in J stand for decades, in some cases that seat has been passed down generations to be turfed out with no compromise on the requests of club and fans group ‘Fans United’ – Andrew ‘Tufty’ Kilduff and Pete Boyle were more than happy to be the face of the singing section proposal, with fans united claiming that many other fans groups were involved with the proposal. Is it right that a fans group should have a bigger say on what happens with our club than any other fan? No is the short and long answer to that one. The same goes for Stretford End Flags, an organisation fronted by Andrew ‘Tufty’ Kilduff, working with others behind SEF that request to remain anonymous, a wise choice to do so as the organisation frequently make bad choices, taking the ‘The Chosen One’ banner installed on the Stretford End Tier 2 at the start of the season in support of new manager David Moyes. Even the Scott stated he should’ve only had a banner in support once he had proved himself.
So now, the club and fans united have made their decision, current season ticket holders in J stand are being turfed out and told to sit elsewhere after the renewal date of 31st May 2014, the bad thing is, again poorly managed by the club, is that fans that wish to join the singing section next season can pick their seat already in J stand. So, it is more than likely that if you are being moved out of J stand, your seat, that you have been in for years and years has been allocated to someone else already, even with three matches to go in this current poor season.
Social media has been the go to place to vent and air frustrations with both the club and fans groups involved, even a petition to save J stand was put in place with over 500 signatures already. It is not only those that are being forced to move that are upset with the clubs decision, many other season ticket holders and fans group think it is a bad decision.
Will this new venture improve the atmosphere at Old Trafford? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, the singing section will be remembered for the wrong reasons for long time.
If you have any thoughts, both pro and cons to the singing section at Old Trafford then please feel free to comment in the section below. We are more than welcoming to hear your thoughts.