Manchester United transforms stadium for disabled fans

The move will be gradual at Old Trafford over three seasons

Manchester United transforms stadium for disabled fans

Picture by Martin Rickett PA Wire/PA Images

At a time when many clubs are looking to increase their stadium capacity to increase matchday revenue, Manchester United have decided to do the complete opposite.

The Premier League giants are to lessen the capacity of Old Trafford from the start of next season, to increase the amount of places available to disabled fans in the stadium. Over 2,000 season-ticket holders will be moved, in an effort to create more spaces for 300 extra disabled fans.

Ahead of the start of the 2017/18 season, more spaces will be made available. The process will last three seasons, and will see disabled fans be situated in the East Stand and the corners of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand.

Chas Banks, Secretary of the Manchester United Disabled Supporters' Association (MUDSA) welcomed the changes, that were announced on Tuesday.

"I'm filled with pride that the club I've supported since first coming to Old Trafford as a little boy in 1957, is leading the way in increasing accessible seating to meet the standards set out in the Accessible Stadia guide. It's a dream come true for me and many other disabled United fans."

"This is a huge task and it can't be completed overnight. However, it will be completed faster than most believed possible. More importantly, this expansion is the beginning of a process, not the end. Manchester United is constantly looking to improve in every area and I’m confident they will apply that same ambition towards their disabled fans."

The club have revealed that all structural work will be completed ahead of next season, but the process will be gradual, not to discommode over 2,500 season-ticket holders. 800 fans will be moved ahead of next season. 

Manchester United's Group Managing Director Richard Arnold said the club will do all they can to accommodate the fans that are affected. 

"Old Trafford is a home for all United fans and these changes will help many more of our loyal disabled supporters to attend games to watch their heroes. Manchester United prides itself on its work in this area for more than 25 years, and will continue to ensure that it remains at the forefront of our thinking."

"We know that many of the affected Season Ticket holders have held their seats for decades and it will be a sacrifice to give them up. But we also know that the vast majority will understand and support this expansion. We are committed to finding a new home for every Season Ticket holder, either in an equivalent area, or if they choose a better seat our goodwill package will ensure they pay no more in the first season for having to move.

"We have a unique situation at Old Trafford in that we have some 55,000 Season Ticket holders and enjoy sell-out crowds for every game, and the number of seats that become available each summer is very small. This makes moving large numbers of fans to similar seats within the stadium impossible in a short space of time."