Jose Mourinho‘s men face Sevilla in the last 16 of the Champions League and those who travel to the first leg at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on February 21 will have to pay £89 as a visiting fan, £35 more than Liverpool supporters were charged at the same venue in December.
United attempted to get Sevilla to lower the cost but, having failed to persuade them to do so, the club have said they will respond by hiking up the prices to the same amount for away supporters at Old Trafford in March’s second leg.
That additional revenue will be used to subsidise United fans £35 each for their ticket in Seville, in keeping with the £54 Liverpool fans paid, with any extra money donated to the Manchester United Foundation.
In an email, seen by Press Association Sport, that was sent to supporters that have tickets for the game in Sevilla, United’s head of ticketing and membership Sam Kelleher wrote: “In this instance we believe that our travelling supporters are unfairly being subjected to increased/excessive ticket prices from the host club.
“This view is shared generally amongst travelling supporters, and we have received lots of requests from individuals and supporter groups to intervene in this matter.
“This has been raised with Sevilla, and internally, but ultimately Sevilla have not agreed to significantly lower the price of tickets for our fans to what we view as a reasonable level. Therefore we have taken the difficult decision to charge Sevilla fans for the return leg at Old Trafford the same amount as our fans have been charged for the away fixture.
“We have decided to increase the ticket prices for Sevilla fans for the game at Old Trafford, and use this increase to subsidise our fans, as we want this to act as a deterrent to future opponents who look to increase ticket prices for our travelling supporters.
“We will subsidise our travelling support by refunding the difference between the price charged (£89) and the price that was paid by Liverpool supporters in the group stage of this year’s competition (£54). The £35 difference will be refunded prior to the game taking place.
“As a result of the changes to ticket prices for away fans, should we gain any additional revenue after having refunded our supporters, we will donate this to the Manchester United Foundation.”
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (M.U.S.T) praised the club.
“We have been working with the club since we became aware of the ridiculous £89 Sevilla (away) ticket price,” they said in a statement on Twitter.
“Our primary objective was to ensure our fans didn’t end up paying this much. We are delighted United have fought our corner on this issue and are now working with the club to engage with UEFA to look at non-member fees and the lack of concession tickets which have often been used to hike up prices for our away fans.”
It was almost as if the European Cup, or Champions League as it has been branded since 1992, was just made for Real Madrid.
Los Blancos pride themselves on their history in the competition and rightly so.
The great Alfredo Di Stéfano was part of the famous Whites side which won five consecutive titles, starting from its inaugural year in 1956 right through to 1960.
There were plenty of memorable moments in those successive triumphs, including a 4-3 success over Stade Reims in Paris to secure their first cup while a 7-3 rout against Eintracht Frankfurt in Glasgow for their fifth, is a notable match in the history football.
In 1966, Real won again – beating Partizan 2-1 in Brussels but had to wait until 1998 for their seventh.
Predrag Mijatović scored the winner against Juventus in Amsterdam that season – and that kick-started another European golden patch for the Whites, which saw a 3-0 romp over Spanish rivals Valencia in Paris two years later.
Zinedine Zidane’s magical volley after an earlier Raul strike secured Real’s ninth triumph in 2002, again in Glasgow, but the club had to wait some 12 years for their next trophy.
A 4-1 extra-time win over city rivals Atletico Madrid in Lisbon (2014) tasted sweet and Real inflicted yet more misery on their local neighbours in 2016 when they beat Diego Simeone’s men for the second time in the space of three seasons, on penalties, at the San Siro.
Then, just last term, Real became the first team, under Zinedine Zidane, to successfully defend the Champions League and win back-to-back titles (not taking into account their magnificent run in the 1950s) by overcoming Juventus 4-1 in Cardiff. Cristiano Ronaldo was very much at the heart of that performance and netted twice.
Three Champions League wins in four years catapulted Real’s overall haul to 12, with their nearest challengers being AC Milan (seven) while Bayern Munich and Barcelona have five apiece.
Octo Finissimo Automatic A Third World Record for Bulgari
Bulgari is once again the spotlight, proudly presenting its third successive world record.
The Octo Finissimo Automatic is the slimmest ultra-thin self-winding watch on the market to date.
After introducing its Tourbillon in 2014 and the Minute Repeater in 2016, the Maison unveils its new creation featuring a total thickness of just 5.15mm, while its self-winding movement is just 2.23mm thick for a 40mm diameter.
The iconic Octo is once again pushing the boundaries of watchmaking feasibility.
When the balls are unscrewed, and the names of either Real Madrid or Barcelona are unfurled by a legend flashing a toothy grin, it almost makes watching the Champions League draw a worthwhile exercise.
Fawning videos and tedious explanations finally give way to something magical – that moment of wondrous speculation as fate in the form of Xabi Alonso decides where the most famous teams on earth are heading in February.
A pessimistic Chelsea fan will have felt a pang of emotion when Alonso, a man known for his link-up play, paired them with Barcelona. And though Paris Saint-Germain’s rise may not be a tale for the romantics, on strictly footballing terms at least, there is a lot to love about Real’s impending visit to the French capital.
Spanish football’s greatest exports never fail to stir the emotions. Yet the one emotion that need not creep into their European opponents this year is fear. These clubs are still Real Madrid and Barcelona, just not as we know them.
The last time that neither Real nor Barca qualified from the last 16 is not even that long ago – in 2007 – but one or both have been at the pinnacle for so long that a younger generation of football fan will never have known it any other way. This could be the season that the perception shatters.
Ernesto Valverde has sewed together the ragged remnants of Luis Enrique’s reign and his functional fingerprints are all over this current Barca side. Outside of the magic of one Lionel Messi there is no space for the flourishes that for so long have encapsulated the Blaugrana brand.
Without Neymar, there is little pace, which made up for some of the attacking deficiencies since the departure of other important components. Without a marauding Dani Alves, there is a lack of attacking overload. A superb Ivan Rakitic is the metronome, but not the generational Xavi. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is one of their most important players – Victor Valdes, back in their halcyon days, rarely needed to be more than an afterthought.
That’s not to say Barcelona aren’t very good. Sometimes they are still great, but Valverde has ultimately brought order – albeit to a team that desperately needed it – without recapturing the awe.
Of course, Pep Guardiola has long left Camp Nou, but even last year there was something palpably frightening among Barcelona’s dysfunction as that beautiful chaos conjured one of the most breathtaking comebacks of all time against PSG.
Chelsea, should they strip away the history and the emotion, will come to learn what current day Barca represents – an opportunity.
Provided they shackle you-know-who, Barca may not have the outlets to get behind Chelsea’s wing-backs and the time on the ball with N’Golo Kante as chief heel-nipper.
As for Real, their drop-off can this year can in some way be explained by their merry-go-round of suspensions and injuries, with Gareth Bale as ever operating those particular controls.
This team could also benefit from a sprinkle of Valverde pragmatism. The weekend’s battering of Sevilla aside, they have been disjointed in attack and the ineffectiveness of Karim Benzema as a spearhead is reaching boiling point.
Casemiro, Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal – not to mention Cristiano Ronaldo’s fit of pique in the Spanish Super Cup – have been indicative of a lack of discipline and sloppiness which allowed Tottenham to qualify from their Champions League group as winners.
PSG are hardly the most ordered of outfits themselves but having scored a record 25 goals in topping their own group, that triumvirate of Edinson Cavani, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will make Real think twice and thrice again.
Unai Emery may be struggling to juggle his players’ egos, and capitulation at knockout time has become an unwelcome habit, but Real – even though they are aiming for a three-peat – have shown they are at least living on the same mortal plane this season.
And that is well the point. There will be no quarter-final given lightly to La Liga’s juggernauts. For once, both of them are in the leading pack rather than the runaway favourites.