Man United Looks to Move Away Fans to Nosebleed Section of Old Trafford

Manchester United is one step away from permanently moving away supporters in their Old Trafford stadium. On April 15, United will move the visiting Aston Villa supporters from their regular position in the ground, in the SE quadrant, to the third tier of the Sir Alex Ferguson stand.

For TV viewers, who are accustomed to the view of the main camera when games are played at Old Trafford, this will mean that instead of the away fans appearing in the right corner of the ground, they will face the main TV, but will be nestled in the lofty section of the third tier, under the roof.

If the trial goes successfully, Manchester United will make this a permanent decision beginning with the start of the 2012-13 season.

The implications of this move are numerous. Currently, the away supporters are often easily visible within view of the cameras, as well as often being significantly louder than the home fans. By moving the away section of the ground to the nosebleed section, away fans will be out of sight and out of mind, in addition to being very difficult to hear on television.

Manchester United defends the potential decision by reporting that home fans have overwhelmingly supported the decision. Plus, according to the club website, “The last few seasons have seen a noticeable decline in the number of away fans coming to Old Trafford and because of the way the segregation works in the SE corner of the stadium, this can often mean hundreds of seats are left empty for security reasons because they cannot be made available to United fans who want to come to the game. Many more United fans are being denied the chance to watch their team because of the poor uptake in away allocations.”

The statement on the website adds that “The club sees the proposed move as being in the best interests of matchgoing Manchester United supporters as a whole and has put a lot of effort and thought into the solution.”

Nowhere in the club’s statement do they once mention any thoughts or concerns about the away supporters. I, for one, will miss seeing the away supporters being in a corner of the ground where they definitely add a lot of atmosphere to a, sometimes, very quiet Old Trafford ground on matchdays. By moving the away supporters into the far flung reaches of the ground, Old Trafford will be just like the only other ground in the Premier League where away fans are practically invisible — Newcastle’s St. James’s Park.

Revenue is obviously a key motivator for Manchester United to consider moving the away fans, as well as reduced stewarding and policing costs. But  I wonder how much of a factor in this decision is Man United fans wanting to silence the away section.

Ultimately it’s a bad move for neutral fans, away fans and TV viewers. Moving the away supporters to a section of the ground where it’ll be very difficult to hear the supporters will only serve to decrease the atmosphere at Old Trafford. But selfishly, for Manchester United, it would mean more revenue to pay down the debt.

26 thoughts on “Man United Looks to Move Away Fans to Nosebleed Section of Old Trafford”

  1. “Nowhere in the club’s statement do they once mention any thoughts or concerns about the away supporters.”

    – Why would any club care what the away supporters think about their seating? They shouldn’t. All home clubs owe away supporters is a fair price on tickets, a safe journey to, from and at the stadium and equitible facitilites (concessions, restrooms, etc.). That’s it. And yes, if this move becomes permanent, travelling United supporters should expect equally crap seats at all away grounds.

    “Revenue is obviously a key motivator for Manchester United to consider moving the away fans, as well as reduced stewarding and policing costs.”

    – Revenue is the key motivator for all clubs, not just United. Hence the reason for three new kits every season, preseason matches ie. marketing trips, in the US, Southeast Asia and other various ports of call. Revenue precludes everything with every club…except City (gimme a break, I had to be a little snarky, right?). Oh and for the sake of argument can we all agree that winning is an essential part of revenue?

    Insofar as United trying to make it more difficult to hear the away fans. I don’t think they really care. Let’s be honest, Old Trafford has rarely been known as a cauldren of noise. And I can assure you that the television people don’t care. All the tv people care about is how many eyes at home are on their televisions watching.

    Flame away, good people.

      1. On a personal level, I agree with you: a paying customer is a paying customer and should be treated as such.

        However, if you really look at it from a business model, and that’s what this whole thing devolves into, a business model. Away fans are bad for business…especially at Old Trafford. When you look at where the away supporters were seated, you have to admit, those are/were pretty decent seats. Now, imagine that United can release those to masses as season tickets and viola’ 25+ matches of mandatory recurring revenue multiplied by the ~2000 upgraded seats. Again revenue, revenue, revenue…

        At any rate, it could be an endless discussion of fans v. business, right v. , cats v. dogs and that would be tiresome.

      2. What is there to care about? The seats in the SAF stand may not be as close to the pitch but they will be getting one of the best views in sport and, if anything, a more complete view of the pitch. What is there to care about? The move wont affect their view of the game and nowhere is there a claim that they arent allowed to make noise.

        1. Paul, that’s ridiculous. The SE corner allows them to be very close to the pitch. Putting them in the nose bleed section will give them a view of the overall pitch, but from practically half a mile away.

          The Gaffer

  2. You’ve fallen for a pretty classic myth. A big part of the reason why away fans have a reputation of being so loud at United is because of that positioning. Announcers have club executives right in front of them, then a pile of away supporters to the side. With that set up, it’s the announcers who keep saying, “gee, the away supporters are loud today” not realizing that the fervent away fans are simply closer to them than United’s.

    The other issue that’s not pointed out is that while the location has changed, the allocation has not. Numerous times this year, United have faced situations where other clubs have released paltry sums of tickets for away fixtures (cup comps in particular, but league matches too) for away supporters.

    So, United moved away fans. It could be a lot worse.

    1. I’ve been to Old Trafford, and I can attest to how loud the away fans and, in relation, how quiet the Manchester United fans are.

      The Gaffer

    1. I don’t dislike Manchester United. Unnecessary? It’s an opinion piece criticizing United. I’ve written favorably about United in the past when I believe they’ve made good decisions, but I don’t think this is a good move by United.

      The Gaffer

  3. Newcastle has had the away fans in the nose bleed section for as long as I can remember, There’s no doubt that United will get more money from their home fans for better seats, than they get for the same seats from the away fans.
    Put it this way, if you’re a united fan in the nose bleeds, there’s no doubt you’re wondering why am I paying more for these crap seats than away fans are for good seats.

  4. I’d also mention that the away seating is not always full which I would presume would only add to the frustrations of the home fans in the nose bleeds

  5. old bacon face came up with this plan while listening to the only 3,000 people left in the ground ramming the six- one, that’s 6-1 scoreline down his throat.

  6. People always write about keeping tradition alive in football, especially in England, where clubs like to talk it up about the past.

    Then you see something like this.

    The irony in all of this of course is that United would probably displace home supporters if away fans bought up more then their allocation. Then there would be an outcry.

  7. As a United supporter, I find this saddening. I like keeping the away fans in the Southeast quadrant. Another me first, money making move by the Glazer family. I think away fans should have a good view of the pitch regardless of the ground. It adds to the atmosphere of the game when you can hear the away fans just as much as the home supporters.

    By the way, I loved Stoke City’s away fan’s chant at White Hart Lane on Wednesday: “He cheats. He dives. He hates the Jackson 5. Luis Suarez. Luis Suarez.” Brilliant.

  8. Clubs are perfectly within their right to do this (I don’t like it personally but understand clubs have to do the best for themselves). Italian and spanish clubs often do this and I think that clubs that do it should get the same treatment from opposing clubs. If Man U do this from next year then clubs should give man u fans the worst seats in the reverse fixture.
    One point I would make is whether the home fans would be charged more for the lower level (better) seats? Some fans can barely afford the top tier seats and if there are price increases then it may drive more common/real fans away from matches which is a shame.

  9. My first (and only) trip to old Trafford and I’ll be sat up in the gods not able to see all around the ground. That is rubbish. I used to really hate man utd, and now that feelings coming back. Hopefully the ground will end up completely devoid of atmosphere like emirates and they can enjoy the prawn sandwiches in silence.

  10. I have sat in those seats on the third tier, (something which the rest of the people commenting on this probably havent) and they are not THAT bad seats, you are high up but you get a good overall picture of the game from up there (something which you didnt get from being sat in the quadrants when your team was attacking at the other end). Furthermore these seats are not that disimilar to those at the top at wembley (where I have also sat). If the tickets are good enough for present united fans to sit in why cant away fans sit there? surely United have the right to put away fans where they want, and where they deem is appropriate. Newcastle do this and so do Barca.Yes this means that away fan atmosphere may depreciate, however when teams like fulham are turning up with 340 like they did the other week, in an allocation worth 2000-3000, sticking them up in the “nosebleed area” is hardly going to make much difference. Its also worth noting that the safety of fans is going to increase with them sat in the third tier. And we have all had to deal with standing areas being removed to the detreament of atmosphere for greater safety.
    Finally it has to be said that the reason for this movement is not financial (although it must help) it is due to years of petitioning from united supporters to have a singing area in order to redress the “dead” atmosphere produced by tourists and southerners coming to OT. The only way they can do this is by moving the away fans. Therefore as a united fan who is sickened by fans who dont know any chants and are unprepared to do so, I welcome this move by the fans and the club and hope that it will recreate the once great atmosphere that Old Trafford was famous for.

  11. I agree RedMatt, I had my (since given up) Season Ticket in the Third Tier, and I loved it up there! You get a great view of the game, and singing up there sounds louder because of the low roof, plus on colder days it stays warmer because of the low roof!
    Alright, it might be a schlep up there, especially if you’re not that young or fit (I am fairly fit, and used to run up – good work-out), but it really isn’t anything like what some people imagine, you won’t need binoculars!
    Thing is, I wouldn’t especially want to be in the Second Tier when certain away fans come to OT, mentioning none in particular (but we all know who I mean).

    I’ll be in there for the Swansea game, so it might be the last time as a home supporters section then? Can’t wait!

  12. I sit on the half way line in tier 3 and for me it is my fav part of the ground i have sat in SE and East stand for seasons and find the view very restricted.
    Half way line of Tier 3 you get a clear view of every goal and decision good and bad.
    There is currently a petition going round to stop this move as i personally wouldn’t want to sit anywhere else other than maybe tier 2 in a similar position but wouldn’t want to be bombarded with pies and coffee from the away fans above.
    I have sat there since the stand opened and have never been consulted by the club to see if we like the idea.

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