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Last Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006, 09:37 GMT 10:37 UK
Man Utd defend ticket price rise
A view of Old Trafford
Old Trafford will have the Premiership's biggest capacity next season
Manchester United have hit their fans with a 12.3% average rise in season ticket prices for the next campaign.

A top-price ticket will cost 38 and the cheapest 23 - although United are still roughly halfway up the list of Premiership ticket prices.

"It is the time of year when football directors become public enemy number one," said finance director Nick Humby.

"But we strongly believe that the new ticket prices still represent the best value in the Premier League."

Those whose tickets average 30 a game will be hardest hit as their seats will cost 5 more.

Without a doubt, there will be empty seats for league games at Old Trafford next season
Mark Longden, chairman, Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association
But everyone attending games at Old Trafford will have to pay more - with one exception, that being a supporter with two children sitting in the Family Stand, for whom the price will be frozen.

Mark Longden, chairman of the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association criticised the move, saying there could be empty seats at Old Trafford next season.

"Even the hardcore fan is going to think twice about spending 35 to go watch Birmingham at 5.15pm on a Saturday evening," he said.

"It is far easier - and cheaper - to go and watch the game on TV in a pub somewhere, where, it has to be said, the atmosphere is often better as well.

"The more prices go up, the more people fall off the edge and, without a doubt, there will be empty seats for league games at Old Trafford next season."

United estimate that 43% of their matchday receipts next year will be generated by their 8,000 'executive' fans, a rise from 36% for the present campaign.

But United have defended the price rises, saying they compare favourably with the rest of the Premiership.

"We do not know what most of our rivals will charge next year, but even a price freeze across the rest of the Premiership would mean that next year only seven clubs will have a cheaper ticket than 23 and nine clubs will have a top price over 39 - in some cases almost double," said Humby.

Chelsea have frozen ticket prices for next season, which means tickets for Premiership games remain between 35 and 60.

The Blues' ticket prices are the second highest in the Premiership, after Tottenham, who charge up to 70. Wigan's prices are the lowest, at 17 to 25.

Old Trafford's capacity is being expanded to 76,000 - comfortably the largest in the Premiership - for the start of next season.



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