Manchester United has ordered season ticket holders to buy a ticket for next week's FA Cup replay against Cambridge United - or face a one-game ban.
Around 9,000 of the club's 55,000 season ticket holders are believed to be affected. They yesterday received a letter from the club, telling them: "The deadline to buy your seat for Cambridge United is 8pm tonight. Please note that not buying this ticket will result in your Season Ticket being suspended for the Sunderland game."
Fans, unsurprisingly, are furious: the Cambridge replay isn't expected to be edge-of-the-seat stuff, and tickets are £50 a head.
They feel they're being punished by the club's failure to effectively see Cambridge off first time round, by being forced to buy tickets at top prices and at short notice, for a game being played on a midweek evening.
Many fans, in any case, won't be able to make the game. One tells the Guardian: "I – like many others – cannot attend the replay at such short notice, due to work commitments."
Most fans have already paid automatically, as the club has their credit card details on file.
But where it doesn't, they will have to find another way of paying. Sam Stonier, for example, tells Metro that even though he's willing, he can't buy a ticket as his card details have changed.
"I find it unbelievable that the club think they can treat loyal supporters like myself that spend thousands with them like this – sending an email making threats and setting deadlines," he says.
The club points to rules which have been in place since the 2012-13 season and which stipulate that if fans fail to pay for a game in the cup scheme, they'd be suspended from the next one.
"In respect of each home cup match for which the Ticket Holder fails to provide valid payment card details or for which the Ticket Holder's card or payment is declined, the Ticket Holder's Season Ticket may be suspended for one home league match," the terms and conditions read.
It says that if it can successfully sell any ticket that a fan has failed to pay for, the fan can apply for a refund of the Sunderland ticket at the end of the season.
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