Man Utd fans vent anger as club cite ‘youth player development’ for moving seats

A fan group has expressed fury after Manchester United cited youth players’ development among the reasons for moving its seats at Old Trafford.

South Stand United was formed after supporters in block S122 of the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand were informed they would be moved next season.

The group say it is planning to protest at Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Liverpool and has been irked by United chief operating officer Collette Roche saying the location could aid young players’ development.

“We believe, especially for our younger players, that having a side view of the action is optimal to their development and future performance, and being located close to the suite they access is also important,” Roche said in a letter seen by the PA news agency.

Manchester United
Manchester United fans are being moved from their regular seats (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It is also important these tickets are seated together with adequate supervision given the increasing profile of many of our younger and women’s team players.”

That was one of six bullet points explaining the decision and seemed to particularly irk South Stand United, which let its feelings known in a statement dripping with sarcasm.

“Who knew that all these years, fans were sitting on a gold mine of player potential in Block S122?” the group said.

“Forget about the state-of-the-art training facilities or world-class coaching staff; it’s all about the angle of the dangle from the stands now.

“‘Pitch-Perfect View Turns Benchwarmers to Benchmarks’ the club might as well say.

“But here’s the kicker – the loyal legion of fans, those who’ve weathered storms and basked in glory, are the ones getting the boot, or rather, being ‘repositioned’ for this visionary masterstroke.”

When contacted by PA, United issued a reminder of an existing statement on the issue.

Manchester United
Manchester United say they are committed to working with all season ticket holders affected by relocations (Martin Rickett/PA)

It read: “We understand the disappointment caused to season ticket-holders by seat relocations. These happen for various reasons, including, next season, the moving of matchday hospitality seats into consolidated blocks to address fan concerns about them being dispersed around the stadium.

“Other changes next season include the removal of hospitality seating from the Stretford End and installation of further rail seating in the North-West Quadrant, bringing benefits to many fans but also causing some disruption.

“No additional hospitality seats are being created at the expense of season ticket-holders — in fact hospitality seating will reduce by more than 500 next season.

“We are committed to working with all season ticket holders affected by relocations to find them the best possible alternative seats elsewhere in the ground.”