Man United Fans Withdraw Legal Threat Against the Council

Had claimed losses after ticket allocation at Stamford Bridge was cut

The entrance to Stamford Bridge

Football fans have withdrawn their threat of taking Hammersmith & Fulham Council to court over the ticket allocation for a match at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) slammed the council over plans for the forthcoming match with Chelsea, after it was re-scheduled to another date with reduced numbers.

The game was originally set to take place on Sunday, 23 October, but it was brought forward a day earlier for TV broadcasting reasons with the Chelsea v Salzburg Champions League game on the following Tuesday.

United had sold nearly 3,000 tickets before the game was rescheduled. A safety certificate issued by Hammersmith and Fulham Council originally meant only 2,370 tickets can be sold at the new kick-off time.

As a result over 500 United fans wouldn’t have been able attend the game, with many having booked travel and accommodation. The council said the decision was made following safety advice from the Met Police.

A solicitors’ letter to the council said, “We write to request you urgently issue a fresh safety certificate for the above fixture with allowance for the full ticket allocation of 3,000 MUFC fans.

“There is no rational reason to reduce the ticket allocation for away fans at a 5.30pm kick-off when it is accepted that there would be a full ticket allocation at a fixture beginning no later than 4.45pm.

“If we do not receive a reply to this letter from you… or if you confirm that you refuse to reverse your decision, then we reserve the right to commence judicial review proceedings against you.”

A spokesperson for the council said, “The decision to restrict ticket allocation for away fans was on the advice of the Metropolitan Police and its concern about risks associated with the late kick-off. We wrote to Chelsea FC in the summer expressing our concern about the timing of this match.

“It is disappointing that the football authorities have not been able to change the kick-off time to enable the full ticket allocation for away fans making the journey.”

MUST threatened legal action against the local council for “uncritically accepting the advice” of the police.

However MUST later issued a statement saying it was not intending to proceed with legal action which said, “Given the greater uncertainty of success, the short time remaining before the game and the cost risk we have taken the decision not to proceed to a court hearing on this occasion.”

MUST say legal costs could have reached £40,000 but warned it would take local authorities to court in future if changes in ticket allocations were made at such short notice again.

Written with contributions from Hannah Neary - Local Democracy Reporter

October 21, 2022