If You Give a Kid a Soccer Match...
September 7, 2011 4:46 PM   Subscribe

My son, a soccer player and avid Manchester City and Manchester United fan, is turning 17 on the date of the Man City vs Man United match (April 28th, 2012). Since we were considering a trip to Europe next year, the stars all seemed to be in alignment for us to schedule our visit around his birthday. I wrote to inquire about tickets for the match. In return, I received a lovely reply...but I don't understand it! Please hope me.

My specific inquiry asked if tickets were available for the match, and if so, at what cost (I was specific about the match date, and that we would require 3 tickets). I also asked whether Stadium Tours were offered on the day of the match.

So, in reply I received this from Manchester City:
Hospitality pricing for the 2011/2012 season is as follows:

Cat A Cat B Cat C Cat D
(I don't want to put the actual prices, but they range from nearly 200 pounds to several thousand pounds!)

The Boardroom, Mancunian, Legends, Citizens Suite, Platinum Boxes

All prices plus VAT
Children 12 years and under priced at 50% of adult rate

The Manchester United game is a category 'A' match and is subject to a link sell. Any packages booked for the Manchester United game you would need to book the same package for a category 'C' or 'D' game in conjunction with this.

I've attached a copy of the fixture list which also details what category each game comes under.
Problem 1: These are Season prices, right? Can only Season Ticket holders purchase tickets to matches?

Problem 2: If I buy a package I have to buy a "C" or "D" package as well. I don't have to buy Season Tickets at both levels, do I?!

Problem 2: I assume "fixtures" are what I would usually refer to as "matches"? But the reply mentions matches as well, so I'm a bit unclear on the terminology. What exactly is a "fixture"?

Problem 3: The above-mentioned fixture list came with 3 pages. The first page shows matches for dates up until January 28, 2012 and the categories. Unfortunately, the remaining two pages are blank!

I've written back already, but as the first reply took a week in coming, is there anywhere else I might find the information on whether a match is considered a Category C, D, A, etc?

Thanks for any help you can give me on this. I realize I am woefully ignorant. I'm a soccer fan myself and my husband played and coached the kids in soccer, but we are really out of our element here. Any tips at all about attending matches, including where to stay, etc., are very welcome.

You can also Mefimail me if you don't want to put any specifics in the thread.
posted by misha to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total)
Not a football (soccer) fan, so can't easily help on the details, but:

1) yes, fixtures = matches
2) "hospitality pricing" sounds like they've sent you the commercial details for buying seats in sections of the stadium (Boardroom, Platinum Box etc...) reserved for making money out of companies/individuals who want to buy a few tickets for themselves and clients/prospectives and watch the game with a glass of champagne.

Problem is, not being a fan I have no idea how to buy normal tickets for a game. I do know they won't be cheap, and maybe you want to get some advice from someone who knows the stadium about how seating works and whether some sections aren't family-friendly: you get the English male red in tooth and claw at the football, even at Man City games, and you might experience some mild cultural dissonance...
posted by cromagnon at 4:59 PM on September 7, 2011

I think you might have gotten ticket information for what would be called luxury boxes in the states. I went looking on the EPL website, they only had tickets for games through October 2nd. Man City's website didn't have the tickets listed, nor did Man Utd. I found multiple sites listing tickets in the secondary market for around £180-£250 apiece.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 5:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

It appears the match is sold out except for a couple of the hospitality suites, apparently. Those prices are for the hospitality, which includes any number of additional perks (like box seats, champaign, etc.) Here's the typical prices for tickets.
posted by General Malaise at 5:02 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

And, it looks like this is the only hospitality package still available.
posted by General Malaise at 5:04 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Instead of waiting on emails, why not try calling the customer service number? (I know you're in the US and not the UK but with skype a 20 minute convo will cost like 2 bucks or something.)
posted by elizardbits at 5:09 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Okay, I'll take a stab at this from what I know about football and if I'm wrong I hope one of the UK folks will jump in when they see this tomorrow morning to set me straight.

Fixtures = matches

I think the two blank pages you got were a mistake on the sender's part and should have had more printing.

Category A matches are for the best teams, so the Man City/Man U game is considered a Category A match. If this match is being held at Man City's grounds it will be that much harder to get tickets as the stadium holds about half as many people as Old Trafford (Man U's stadium) holds.

The prices seem to be for boxes. It seems as though they require you to buy a box for lesser category matches in addition to the Category A match. I honestly have never heard of this and don't know if there's any way around it.

I don't think the general tickets go on sale to the public until a few weeks before a match but I'm guessing you'll find it near impossible to get tickets that way as this will be a very popular match between two very popular teams.

This may be a tricky one to get tickets to unless you know someone who has lots of connections amongst Manchester football fans. Sometimes season ticket holders are willing to give away or sell their tickets for certain games.

Other things you could try:

- Ebay.co.uk, or
- tickets touts outside the stadium the day of the match

Both of these will cost quite a bit. I think you should try for an emotional appeal. Write to Man City (or Man U) and tell them that your son is a huge fan of the team and that it's his lifelong dream to see a match and that you'll be travelling in the UK on his 17th birthday next April etc....., and see what they say. Other than that, I think you may be looking at paying a fairly hefty price; I didn't really follow football this last year but I think these two teams are at the top of the league and tickets to the matches between the two of them may be like gold dust. Good luck!
posted by triggerfinger at 5:44 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

As has been said, these are the prices for booking space in the hospitality suites, which is much more expensive than regular seats. You're very unlikely to want hospitality seats, but it's probably true that the regular tickets have sold out given this is a derby match. I would guess (though I don't know) that even secondary market tickets will be rare and/or expensive.

More importantly, if you've never been to a English football match then a derby match might not be the best introduction. Fans could be very rowdy, and police presence will definitely be high.
posted by Jehan at 5:45 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nothing is EVER sold out.
You can get tickets through vendors, dealers......
Repeat nothing is ever sold out.
posted by jennstra at 6:22 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yep, hospitality packages, so box seats with the obligation to buy the same package for a less attractive match. Not cheap, twice. The categories for the second half of the season tend to be decided around Christmas, based upon the results, but you can make a decent assumption that the less glamorous and tipped-for-relegation teams (Norwich, Swansea, Sunderland, QPR, etc.) fit the bill for C/D.

Frankly, I wouldn't take them: firstly, from experience, I don't think sitting with the prawn sandwich brigade is much fun. (There's usually a dress code. With ties for the blokes.) Secondly, as Jehan says, even when surrounded by corporate plushness, derby matches can have an undercurrent of vitriol that isn't fun either -- and as an end of season match in which both Manchester clubs are expected to be vying for the title, the emotions are likely to be especially high. You can't really pull off being both a City and United fan in Manchester on that day.

I've mentioned this in a previous post, but you might want to post to a fan forum (for one club, not mentioning the other affiliation!) that you're travelling specially from abroad. But I'd look for a different match, or pair of matches, so that your son gets to see both grounds on days when the opposition attracts derision but not enmity. It'll be cheaper, and a better present.

Final point: the match is currently pencilled in for the traditional Saturday 3pm kickoff, but that's really just a placeholder. If, as expected, both City and United are fighting for the championship in April, there's a good chance that either the police will want an early kickoff to avoid people spending a few hours in the pubs first, or Sky will want the match moved so that it can be shown live, or a combination of both.
posted by holgate at 8:14 PM on September 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree that you should start checking ticket resellers, but also agree that a derby, particularly a big derby, is probably not the best idea of a match to go to. That is to say, it will be a lot of work, when going to two respective home matches will probably more affordable and less of a spectacle. (Never mind that having split allegiances at a derby just seems weird to me. I don't doubt your son really likes Man City and Man Utd, but that seems so foreign compared to the dedicated supporters who will be at the derby.) The May 5th and May 13th fixtures will probably be more feasible and you'd get to go to Old Trafford and Eithad Stadium (that's really what they're calling it now?).
posted by kendrak at 8:50 PM on September 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have absolutely no idea if it's legit (seems ok at first blush) or not, but the first Google result for "manchester united manchester city tickets" led me (after a few clicks) to this.
posted by mreleganza at 10:46 PM on September 7, 2011

I think it's going to be really difficult and costly to get tickets to this match. Both teams are super high profile this season and as mentioned above, this derby (when both teams are from the same city, in case you didn't know like me when I first moved here 5 years ago) in particular is always a big game.

Another option might be if you are coming out here for a visit is to maybe watch the game at a pub. I know, not the same as going to the stadium (particularly Old Trafford is supposed to be amazing) but I personally like watching a game at a pub, great atmosphere! And then maybe pick a match before or after to go watch live. I'm in London, not Manchester but I'm sure there are other Mefites who might be able to give you a good recommendation. One caveat:

(Never mind that having split allegiances at a derby just seems weird to me. I don't doubt your son really likes Man City and Man Utd, but that seems so foreign compared to the dedicated supporters who will be at the derby.)

This. Most people will sway to one to team or the other though so you will have to pick and from my personal experience, once you pick, don't even mention that you like the other team just as much. If you can even muster up some derision for the other team, even better. (Not that it's like this for all games, just this one in particular)
posted by like_neon at 1:45 AM on September 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Link Sell means that you need to buy the same level package, for a lower category game, to get tickets for this Cat A game.

So basically to buy tickets for the Cat A, they force you to buy tickets for a Cat C/D game.
posted by chrispy108 at 4:03 AM on September 8, 2011

Yeah, you'll struggle. One thing as a note of caution: something like livefootballtickets.com that was linked to: I'd be very dubious about myself. The tickets for the game won't be on sale for months yet. Either they're reselling on tickets for season ticket holders (which is unlikely as clubs don't allow that and have security measures ranging from not telling you the ticket number from your book of tickets until you get to the ground, to photo id), or Man City release some tickets to the resellers market early (seems every unlikely to me) or, I suspect, they're gambling on being able to buy tickets when they are released from Man City or lucky fans and then re-sell them on to you at a huge markup. You may get a (super expensive) ticket or you may get your money taken and then returned to you on the day of the match with a "Sorry, we weren't able to supply your ticket this time" (or worse).

Honestly? I'd try for another game. You may struggle to get into any United/City game aroun that time to be honest, but there's other Premier League clubs where you should be able to get a ticket and (as a fan of a lower league club) don't neglect the Championship: there'll still be 20k+ fans at some games, and the atmosphere is better than a lot of Premier League grounds.
posted by Hartster at 4:34 AM on September 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I'm especially grateful for the derby information, as spouse and I lean towards Man United and son to Man City. Seems like it would be really dicey to even admit that!

I also think he'd be much more comfortable in his Man City jersey with the crowds than in a champagne and shrimp box. So maybe another game would be best. We'll watch this one at home with his friends for his birthday.

Thanks again. marking this resolved.
posted by misha at 8:05 AM on September 8, 2011

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