Manchester United have written to season ticket holders with a strong ultimatum over next week's FA Cup fourth-round replay with Cambridge United, pay for a seat or be banned for the next Premier League match at Old Trafford.
Rather controversially United operate a system whereby fans with a pass for every Premier League game are obliged to stump up for cup matches, whether they want to attend or not.
Only fans under 16 are exempt and the punishment is pretty serve, an automatic one-match ban on any season ticket holder's electronic pass.
Supporter backlash predicted
United have defended their stance by insisting that fans are well aware of the policy before they sign up at the start of every season, but even so it will surely leave a large swathe of supporters feeling disgruntled as they face footing a bill of more than £50 to watch a match featuring a side in League Two.
Strong-arm tactics from the Red Devils have clearly been adopted in an attempt to ensure Old Trafford isn't half-empty for a game that will be televised around the world, although try making that argument to fans who are facing up to the prospect of a one-match ban.
The Mirror contacted United for a statement on the situation and were told there's no compromise over the policy.
A spokesman for the Premier League giants said: "We notify fans that failure to pay for a game in the cup scheme would mean a suspension from the next game.
"The terms and conditions are clear: 'in respect of each home cup match for which the Ticket Holder fails to provide valid payment card details or for which the Ticket Holder’s card or payment is declined, the Ticket Holder’s Season Ticket may be suspended for one home league match.'
"This measure was introduced at the start of the season before last. If we successfully sell the ticket the fan has failed to pay for, they can apply for a refund of the Sunderland ticket at the end of the season."
The move smacks as a unnecessary measure to enforce, why risk alienating genuine supporters who spend their hard-money to be at Old Trafford every week?
Last night's 8pm deadline to pay up has already passed though, so it promises to be interesting to see how many stories emerge of fans barred from watching their own team face Sunderland next month as a result of the decision.
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