The atmosphere at Old Trafford in recent years has declined massively, therefore, Stretford End Flagsamongst other organisations have come together in hope of forming a signing section in the Theatre of Dreams.
The proposal in question has the backing of supporters groups Stretford End Flags and MUST, as well as popular Manchester United fanzines Rednews & United We Stand. Pete Boyle, a well known supporter, has also issued his support for the attempt which will be submitted to the club and each member of the Fans Forum, this Friday at a meeting.
Outline of the proposal – can also be read from Stretford End Flags’ official website.
We propose that the front lower section of East Lower will be turned into a designated singing section from the start of the 2012/13 season.
Given that The Stretford End contains an executive seating area, it is felt that the best location for the designated singing section will be East Lower – Blocks EL133, 134, 135, 136, 137 and 138. East Lower is currently one of the more vocal areas within Old Trafford.
Having liaised with MUFC Wheel chair users, we propose that the section of seating directly in front of the disabled section is not designated as the “Singing Section”, as this may impact on the visibility of the pitch for supporters who use the wheelchair section.
This proposal is not to create an area that may result in increased persistent standing and we do not envisage such an area to create adverse persistent standing that is over and above current standing levels in the East Lower area.
The fundamental reason for incorporating a singing section is to allow those fans who want to sing, an area where they can sit together and create an atmosphere. Supporters have stated that currently the creation and spread of singing is prohibited by supporters who play no part in singing or creating an atmosphere and that this dilution often results in singing fading out or people giving up singing songs. It is noted that this dilution is often caused by infrequent visitors to Old Trafford, who dilute the core singers within sections.
We propose that –
– The designated singing section becomes a Season ticket holder area only. By having the same supporters in this area each game, supporters will not be diluted by members, branches or general sale ticket holders. It is noted that these supporters often tend to not get involved with the singing as much as a regular supporter. As a result of having the same supporters within the area for each game, Supporters will in turn become familiar with each other and this familiarity will increase singing within the area. People are more encouraged to sing, if the person next to them is singing.
– Season ticket holders currently within the East Lower area to be informed and possibly balloted of this proposal, before the season ticket renewal information is sent out.
– Current season ticket holders within East Lower who may not wish to sit within a designated singing section, given the option to relocate seats to a similar priced area within Old Trafford, e.g. Stretford End Lower if availability arises or the seats directly in front of the disables section within East Lower.
– A season ticket seat reconfiguration with East lower. This would allow for current season ticket holders possibly moving one seat to their left or right in order to free up current single seats and create pairs of seats within the section. It has been noted that single seats are often more difficult for the club to sell and that those moving to the singing section may want 2 or 3 seats located together, so that supporters can sit with friends. Depending on the number of available gaps created by the elimination of match day member and branch tickets, this may not impact on every row/block of supporters currently within East Lower.
– Season Ticket holders to be made aware of the new “Singing Section” and given the opportunity to relocate to the new East Lower singing section to fill available seats.
– The Previous Stretford End Tier 2 singing section to be reintroduced and re-marketed by MUFC. This area would be classed as the singing section choice for member applications. Allowing match day members the option of purchasing a seat within the designated blocks of Stretford End Tier 2.
Stretford End Tier 2 – Singing Section
With regards to the current un-advertised singing section within Stretford End Tier 2, we would be happy for given blocks to be designated as a singing section within this area and for supporters to be given the opportunity to move their season tickets to these allocated blocks. We feel that this will allow for groups of singers to be located closer together, which is a major factor in allowing fans to sing together in unison. As with the proposal for East lower, having regular attendees (Season ticket holders) closer together will create a group of supporters who have a strong emphasis on wanting to sing, whilst those who want to savour the atmosphere, rather than join in, can be located on the outskirts of this section.
Since the initial introduction of the Stretford End Tier 2 singing section, many supporters have given up season tickets or have seen friends/family now become season ticket holders. This has resulted in a dilution of vocal supporters within the Stretford End Tier 2 section. An opportunity to locate supporters together in a core section of Stretford End Tier 2 will benefit the atmosphere within The Stretford End.
Again, we feel that the re-creation and advertising of Stretford End Tier 2 as a singing section will help to sell and retain season tickets, as well as promote the vocal areas to match day members and branches when purchasing tickets.
Clearly identifying a section of seats within Stretford End Tier 2 as a singing section on the clubs ticket location map in order to encourage fans to sit within that area when purchasing member/match day tickets.
We feel that this proposal will not only lead to an increased atmosphere within Old Trafford, it will have a positive impact on the team and the players, as well retaining and attracting new supporters to the stadium. Sir Alex Ferguson himself has often praised the effect that the atmosphere can have on the team, as well as express his criticism at some Old Trafford atmospheres in the past.
Further points raised –
Whilst researching and consulting with supporters over the issue of an Old Trafford singing section, several supporters have raised the issue of relocating the current away supporters section.
It is felt that the current Visiting supporters section within Old Trafford does not help with the atmosphere created by Manchester United supporters. Due to its location and the proximity to the South Stand roof, this area is one of the best areas for acoustics within Old Trafford.
Supporters have asked that Manchester United look into the possibility of relocating the Visitor’s section within East Stand tier 2, as is used by visiting supporters on European Nights at Old Trafford. With the current away section becoming a Manchester United supporters section.
Submission to MUFC
This proposal has been submitted to MUFC and we have asked that it can be discussed by The Fans Forum at their next meeting on Friday 9th March 2012.
Footnote- Other Clubs Singing Sections
We note that from the start of the 2012/13 season, Sunderland FC will be introducing a “Singing Section” within the stadium of Light, following supporter feedback. Further to this, Manchester City football club are also considering the introduction of a “singing section” within the Ethiad Stadium and have undertaken trials of this during the current season.
We also note that Liverpool FC have a designated singing section within several blocks at the middle rear of their Kop end.
Case Study – Sunderland AFC “Singing Section”
From the start of the 2012/2013 season, after consultation with Sunderland supporters, Sunderland AFC have designated their South Stand (the current away stand) as a “singing Section”. We have consulted with Sunderland AFC and this is their response to their consultation and introduction of the section.
“The decision to relocate visiting fans was made at the request of our own supporters. Once this decision had been formalized we then consulted with our supporters as to how they would like to see the South Stand area that previously held visiting fans utilised. There was overwhelming positive feedback for the creation of a lively, vibrant ‘home end’ – naturally any singing of course would be down to the supporters themselves to implement”
“The aim is a lively vibrant home section, where we encourage flags, banners etc, rather than specifically a ‘singing’ section – it is our supporters who have coined this term. Our fans are well aware of regulations regarding persistent standing and we have a very positive and proactive relationship with our fans groups in relation to the communication of such issues”.
Louise Wanless – Media & Communications Manager, Sunderland AFC.
Conclusion and Support
We hope that all Manchester United supporters back and support our proposal, as we all seek an Old Trafford that has the best atmosphere possible. If you are discussing this proposal on Twitter, please use the hashtag #otsingingsection
Together We’ll Keep The Red flag Flying high.