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Sep 1, 2010

Man United fail to hit ticket target amid protests

The Green and Gold protest against the Glazer's ownership of Manchester United may have hit season ticket sales as chief executive David Gill confirmed on Thursday the club failed to reach their target.

Gill insisted that despite falling short of their goal of 54,000 season ticket sales by more than 2,000 it was still "pretty good" in the current economic climate and insisted the debt-laden club is in good financial shape.

Fans' group the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST) have urged supporters to boycott the club in the hope of persuading the American owners, the Glazer family, to sell the club.

Asked about the season-ticket protest, Gill said: "I'll be clear on that. Last year our target was 54,000 season tickets, we've sold 51,800, which is pretty good in the current climate.

"We've sold more season tickets than the capacity of most Premier League grounds. Our executive seat sales are on track as compared with last year in a different market.

"I think the bare facts are that the club is in good financial shape. The ticket sales have held up. We sold out for Newcastle and West Ham but we are not complacent and we've got to keep working to make sure that we fill the ground for every game and we'll do that by playing great football, attractive football, exciting football that brings fans in."

The protest against United's owners surrounds the debts they took on to buy the club. These now stand at more than £700 million - including a £500 million bond scheme, and £202 million in payment in kind (PIK) loans.

BBC's Panorama claimed earlier this summer the Glazers' shopping mall empire in America was facing problems but Gill would not be drawn on that, stating instead the club was very successful financially and were comfortable with the position.

Gill added: "I'm not going to comment on that [Panorama]. We've had another very successful year off the pitch when we announced our results for June 2010 they were excellent, generating cash.

"We have put in place a long-term financial structure for the club with the bond, obviously that's serviced on a regular basis. So no I don't think it impacts us at all. So I think we've got to be comfortable."

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