Manchester United supporters were able to sample new rail seating at Old Trafford for the first time yesterday (Wednesday) as 30,000 fans turned out for the pre-season friendly against fellow Premier League club Brentford.

It marked only the second time that United fans had been able to attend a match at the 75,000-seat stadium since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Around 10,000 supporters were allowed in the ground for United’s final home Premier League match of last season against Fulham.

The attendance for last night’s match against Brentford was triple that of the Fulham fixture. The match, which finished 2-2, was the first time that Old Trafford’s new rail seating has been in operation.

The installation of the 1,500 rail seats began last month, with United having received permission to trial the safe standing section in April 2020. The seats were fitted following discussions between the club and the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST).

“(The development comes) after a long conversation with MUST, our supporters trust, who were really keen to put this in as a good, safe option for our supporters on match day,” United’s chief operating officer Collette Roche told MUTV ahead of the match. “We’re delighted that this friendly match will be our first opportunity for our fans to sample these rail seats.

“Old Trafford is exactly the same as other large stadiums, it’s all-seater. Our fans do need to sit.

“But what this will do is make it safer for those that do temporarily stand, and also it will future-proof us. So in the future, should any legislation changes come about that do allow safe standing, we would be in a good position to facilitate that.”

Roche added that new LED floodlights have been fitted at Old Trafford in a move designed to enhance both the in-stadium and at-home viewing experience for supporters.

In June, United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer pledged to “accelerate” upgrades to Old Trafford as part of what the club described as “a new era of dialogue and consultation with fans”.

United set out its vision for a new Fan Advisory Board and a Fan Share Scheme after the club was widely criticised for its aborted attempt to join the failed breakaway Super League scheme in April. Renovations to Old Trafford will be at the heart of the fan consultation.

A number of other Premier League clubs have revealed plans to fit rail seating in recent months, including Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool.

Images: Manchester United