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Saturday 16 December 2017

Protesters decide against late show at Old Trafford

SO the much-rumoured boycott of the start of Manchester United's Champions League tie against AC Milan at Old Trafford last night failed to materialise, but if a new study is to be believed, the club's supporters really are planning to hit the Glazer family where it hurts -- in the pocket.

The suggestion had been that United fans would wait until 10 minutes after kick-off to enter the ground, a protest that David Gill, the club's chief executive, argued last month would be a "ridiculous" way for supporters to demonstrate their opposition to the Americans' controversial ownership.

Alex Ferguson had been confident enough to predict that would not happen and the manager was proved right.

Although as Avram Glazer took his seat in the directors' box, the sole member of the family present at Old Trafford last night, he must have breathed a partial sigh of relief that the majority of the home crowd had done so before him.

The idea of United supporters ripping up their season tickets in protest, as Keith Harris, the former chairman of the Football League and a member of the Red Knights looking to wrest control from the Glazers, recently urged them to do, is fanciful.

But a study, conducted by Virgin Money, has revealed that two thirds of United fans are considering not renewing their season tickets next season as the revolt threatens to swell.

According to their own figures, United have 333million followers worldwide, so the results of a straw poll of a few thousand fans are unlikely to alarm them, but the figures offer an interesting snapshot.

With United the only Premier League club to increase their season ticket prices for the 2009-10 season, the survey found that 15pc of season ticket-holders will give up their tickets completely.

Another 44pc said that they would only occasionally buy tickets for matches.

The average season ticket at United has increased from £487 before the Glazers' takeover in May 2005 to £722 this year.

By contrast, only 9pc of Liverpool supporters said they were considering not renewing their season tickets, despite the team enduring a miserable season.

Malcolm Clarke, the chairman of the Football Supporters' Federation, said: "The Glazer regime has put up ticket prices by half in less than five years. No wonder almost six out of 10 Old Trafford season ticket-holders are thinking of not renewing."

The Red Knights will formally announce today that they have signed up Nomura, Japan's biggest investment bank, to advise them on a takeover bid.

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