Manchester United have apologised to Norman Whiteside after dumping the club legend out of his seat at Old Trafford.
Whiteside spent 11 years at Old Trafford, winning two FA Cups during his time with United. He is viewed as a legendary figure by many at the Red Devils, having become the youngest player to score in both the FA Cup final and League Cup final while with United.
He is also the youngest player to score a senior goal for United and the youngest man to feature in the World Cup. Whiteside came through the academy at Old Trafford and became a hero for his home fans.
The midfielder was forced to retire early due to injury and has held a platinum season ticket at United for more than 25 years. But the club relocated him for a recent game as they reconstruct hospitality areas at Old Trafford.
Whiteside’s wife Dee was left furious at the move. She wrote on Twitter : “So, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a loyal supporter. Doesn’t matter if you played for your club, @ManUtd can just dump you from your seat when they feel like it, so they can expand exec seating! Absolute disgrace!
“I’d like to make clear that this post is not just about Norman. There are a whole block of loyal supporters who expressed their views to me at the West Ham game, but they feel as if they have no voice or platform to voice their anger.”
United have now responded to Whiteside’s wife’s claims, insisting they have the “greatest respect” for him. But they have insisted the reasons for the relocation are valid despite the anger of season ticket holders.
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A spokesperson said: “We have the greatest respect for Norman as a legend of the club, and understand the disappointment caused to him and other season ticket-holders by seat relocations.
“These happen for various reasons, including, next season, the moving of matchday hospitality seats into consolidated blocks to address fan concerns about them being dispersed around the stadium.
“Other changes next season include the removal of hospitality seating from the Stretford End and installation of further rail seating in the North-West Quadrant, bringing benefits to many fans but also causing some disruption.
“No additional hospitality seats are being created at the expense of season ticket-holders – in fact hospitality seating will reduce by more than 500 next season. We are committed to working with all season ticket-holders affected by relocations, including Norman, to find them the best possible alternative seats elsewhere in the ground.”
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But Mrs Whiteside has been left unhappy despite that apology. She wrote: “It’s not just about Norman, many of the ‘United family’ we sit with have been in that block for 20-30+ years, and are all really angry about this ENFORCED seat relocation.
“At a time when the football has been less than spectacular and the season ticket price is increasing!” Replying to another fan, she added: “There are so many of us who have supported United together in that block who are angry as hell, and it looks like we count for nothing”.
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