Community Shield: Wigan sell 4000 tickets for Man United Showdown
The traditional season-opener at Wembley, the Community Shield, could be played out against a backdrop of swathes of empty seats after it was revealed that Wigan have only sold 4000 tickets for the match against Manchester United.
Wigan, one of the poorest-supported sides in the top flight before their relegation last season, were offered 15,000 tickets but only took up 7500 but the club has failed to shift even that number.
The only solace for the FA is that Manchester United quickly sold the 38,000 they were allocated and have almost disposed of an additional 7500 they were granted.
There is a fear the fixture is becoming stale in a era of so much top football, and the appeal of a side like Wigan to neutrals is very limited.
Last season the match was played at Villa Park because of Wembley being needed for the London Olympics and only around 37,000 attended. And even though the 2011 match was between two high-profile teams – Manchester City and Chelsea – Wembley was still more than 12,000 below its capacity.
The FA remains bullish and expects a crowd of almost 80,000. As well as United’s extra take-up, around 20,000 tickets are allocated to Club Wembley season ticket holders with other going to FA partners and sponsors.
Wigan, relegated from the Barclays Premier League last season, turned down an initial allocation of 15,000 tickets from the FA after beating Manchester City in the FA Cup final having taken 25,000 fans to that end-of-season showpiece.
Instead they were given 7,500 tickets to sell for the clash with Premier League champions Manchester United for the season’s traditional curtain-raiser.
But Wigan’s priority is to get promoted back to the Premier League at the first attempt and that has been reflected in the lack of interest in Sunday’s 200 mile trip to London.
Owen Coyle’s team got off to a flying start in the Championship on Saturday with a thumping 4-0 win over Barnsley at Oakwell.
Wigan took more than 2,500 supporters to their first game back in the Championship following relegation but they have shown no interest in the Community Shield.
The town’s rugby league team play in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup Final on August 24 against Hull FC and are expected to sell out their allocation.
Although Wembley are bracing themselves for big empty spaces, they have been surprised by the interest from United supporters in the clash.
United sold out their initial 38,000 allocation within days and requested another 7,500 tickets from the FA.
Last night they had sold 42,800 tickets for David Moyes’s first official fixture in charge of United and expect to sell out before Sunday.
United’s Community Shield commitment comes just two days after Rio Ferdinand’s testimonial against Sevilla at Old Trafford on Friday evening.
Wigan fans’ lack of interest is another headache for the FA, who were forced to move the fixture to Villa Park last season because of the Olympics and they couldn’t even sell out Manchester City against Chelsea.
Only 36,394 turned up at Villa Park and there has been dwindling interest among supporters in recent years.
United’s clash with City at Wembley in the 2011 Community Shield attracted 77,169 supporters at a stadium with a capacity of 90,000.