Mourinho or the Wolverine?

Posted by Mark Payne

Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesThe price of a Manchester United ticket have increased by 36% in the last six years.

Manchester United play Chelsea on Aug. 26 in what is bound to be an electric encounter at Old Trafford. This morning, I lodged my application with the ticket office for Price Bands D and E, the cheapest available, which will probably place me somewhere near the top of Old Trafford's North Stand. The ticket will cost either £41 or £45. If I decide not to go, what else could I do with that £45?

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Before analysing what the alternatives are, please consider that for the same fixture in 2007, the ticket cost me £33. That's a price rise of 36 percent over a period of six years. According to a BBC article from November 2012, prices in general have risen by 18 percent during the same period. You may have noticed that those six years contained a global financial crisis.

What is more, the match ticket is unlikely to be the full cost of the evening. Catching a metro or a bus to the ground adds a few pounds to the equation. Also, it is an evening game, which may well require me to eat dinner near the ground. The cheapest option there would be fish and chips at a cost of £3 minimum.

At the time of writing, £45 will buy U.S. $68 or €51. If you are from further afield, then £45 is the equivalent of 417 Chinese yuan or 4,113 Indian rupees. The cost of the match ticket represents about 10 percent of the average weekly wage for someone in the UK with a full-time job. However, because of the aforementioned crisis, lots of people are either employed part-time or not at all. Forty-five pounds is a significant cost.

Instead of going to the game, perhaps I could consider other forms of entertainment. If I choose to go and see "The Wolverine" at Manchester's Odeon Cinema, it will cost me only £8, and the movie will last 36 minutes longer. Alternatively, if I see the West End smash hit "The Book of Mormon," it will come home at £37.50. Perhaps seeing people in the flesh is what costs all the money.

Although both the movie and the theatre production are no doubt excellent productions, neither contains Jose Mourinho. Or Robin van Persie, for that matter. It doesn't matter how intelligent the writing is, or how well-crafted Hugh Jackman's stunts are, neither is a last-minute winner in front of the Chelsea end.

As a fan, you hope the money is being spent on the squad and improving the playing staff. During the Glazer regime, the playing squad has been maintained, but they have wasted £500 million on interest payments and fees, too. Read that number again and cringe. That's five Gareth Bales, or 4.2 Cristiano Ronaldos.

In the meantime, I have little else to do but to keep supporting the team, because I will always do that. In general, I try not to buy anything extraneous in the ground because my perception is that the club make plenty of money out of me with the tickets alone.

Sitting up in the North Stand at the end of next month, I hope not to be too preoccupied by all of these equations. Nonetheless, being a football fan nowadays is no longer a straightforward process. With prices like these, choices about attendance need to be taken seriously.

But the decision is already made. Obviously, I will go to Old Trafford for the match. The Glazers know it, and you know it, too. That is why the cost of tickets can keep rising. One wonders if at some time in the future a critical point will be reached where the cost of a match ticket becomes more than the cost of living. What will we all do then? Starve perhaps.

Follow Mark on www.twitter.com/markjpayne

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