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Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge

50-50 Challenge
By ESPN Staff

Old Trafford ticket prices get sharp rise

Manchester United have hit their fans with an inflation-busting 12.3% average rise in season ticket prices for next season.

The Old Trafford outfit have confirmed rises ranging from 8.3% to 16.7%, although it appears supporters in executive areas of the ground will be hardest hit by the increases.

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.

However, everyone attending games at the Theatre of Dreams next term will feel the pinch, with the exception of a supporter with two children who sit in the Family Stand, for whom the price of watching United will remain stagnant.

The rises mean a top price ticket at Old Trafford will now cost £38, while the cheapest cost of entry increases to £23.

Those whose tickets average out at £30-a-game at present will be hardest hit as their seats will cost £5 more.

While fans' groups are bound to feel aggrieved at the rises, which they felt were inevitable once Malcolm Glazer completed his £790million buy-out, United have defended them, even though they place a question mark over whether they will succeed in selling out Old Trafford for every league game when the stadium capacity expands to 76,000 at the start of next season.

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

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

'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.'

United have left open the possibility of fans being allowed to relocate to cheaper areas of the ground should space permit, while they have also scrapped the controversial 3% administration charge on cup tickets, but only for fans who join the equally contentious automatic cup ticket scheme.

'Next season promises to be an exciting one,' added Humby.

'Our younger players develop with every game and the manager is looking hard to strengthen the midfield in the summer.

'Coupled with the celebrations of the 50 years following the Busby Babes' first title, Old Trafford will be the place to be next year.'