May 4 (Bloomberg) -- English Premier League soccer leader Manchester United will raise ticket prices by a pound a seat next season after freezing the cost this campaign.
The cost will rise 3.7 percent to 28 pounds ($46.30) for the cheapest adult ticket, while the highest-cost seat will be boosted by 2 percent to 50 pounds a game, the team said today in an e-mailed statement. The increase will account for a 2.5 percentage-point rise in U.K. sales tax, the team said.
Last season the club’s owners, the Glazer family, faced a backlash from supporters about the way the team was run. Fans questioned the debt the Americans used to secure a 790 million- pound takeover in 2005, and criticized seat prices. Ticket costs at Old Trafford, the Premier League’s largest venue, have risen an average of 5.8 percent since the Glazers’ buyout, compared with an average 5.9 percent increase during the previous six years, the club says.
“Fans have seen prices rise 55 percent in the seasons since the Glazers took over and at a time when the club has been enjoying continued commercial success, something they seem more than happy to crow about, along with more than 100 million pounds cash sitting in the bank unspent, they want to take yet more from ordinary supporters, many of whom are struggling in difficult economic conditions,” Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters Trust said in a statement.
United is trying to win a record 19th English championship and may reach the Champions League final after a semifinal second-leg match at home to Germany’s Schalke tonight. It holds a 2-0 lead from the first leg.
The team said the cost covers a boost in the value-added- tax to 20 percent from 17.5 percent and didn’t include higher energy and player salary costs. The club has also, after consulting with fans groups, agreed to cap tickets for 16 to 17- year-olds at 20 pounds, so they don’t face a sudden increase from the 10 pounds they paid for so-called junior tickets. Senior tickets will cost 20 pounds.
Earlier this week, third-place Arsenal faced supporter anger after announcing a 6.5 percent rise. The north London club was the first to charge 100 pounds for a match ticket.
“I share your concerns that ordinary fans are being priced out of live football,” Arsenal Chief Executive Officer Ivan Gazidis said in a letter to the Arsenal Supporters Trust, a group representing some the club’s small shareholders. “This is bad for the continued health of the game and is driven primarily by escalating and ultimately unsustainable levels of spending on transfer fees and salaries.”
Gazidis said the club was more reliant on income from its stadium than its “major competitors” and Arsenal was trying to boost its commercial operation in order to reduce the reliance on fans who attend matches at the 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium.
--Editors: Chris Elser, Bob Bensch
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