Calling all Manchester United fans: Is there a retro football fortune in your cupboard?

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Updated: June 24, 2020
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MAN United have always conjured up respect and rivalry in equal measure – but now the club could also be your ticket to scoring some spare cash.

In the first of a series of articles by The Cheerful Times to highlight ideas for how to make money, we’ve taken an in depth look at the market for football memorabilia.

It’s common knowledge that high-end collectables like World Cup medals can be worth a small fortune, but there’s also a huge demand for club items.

We spoke to several experts, including collectables guru Gary ‘Gazza’ Ashburn – who hosts a show on ITV1 after midnight on the first Saturday on every month in conjunction with Ideal World.

Research by The Cheerful Times has found that items with a connection to Manchester United are often potentially worth the most cash of any club, especially if there is a rarity value.

Happy hunting

Even a matchday programme from an obscure European fixture in the 70s can be worth £600 to £700. Of course, most are worth far less – but there are plenty that fall into the £20 or £30 bracket.

So if you, or a loved one, have a cupboard of old programmes then happy hunting!

Gary Ashburn said: “Manchester United is proud club with followers all over the world, so there is always a strong market for club memorabilia, particularly if it relates to a famous icon, like Sir Bobby Charlton or George Best. Sir Matt Busby and Sir Alex Ferguson are among the most popular.

“Anything that is personally signed by star is likely to be at a premium, whether it’s a framed photo or a set of boots.  But the provenance of the item is also very important. Ideally it should be accompanied something that helps to verify that it’s the real McCoy, such as record of how and when it was acquired.

“For example, I am a member of AFTAL (the Autograph Trade Fair Association), which authenticates signatures for trade associations and the police. If an item is accompanied by AFTAL paperwork it can add 20% to the value.”

Meanwhile, a survey of retro football items by the commerce website Vouchercodes.co.uk listed items related to the Red Devils as among the most valuable in several categories.

These included retro football shirts and tracksuits. For example, an original United away top from 1984/1986 is worth around £500 if you can find the right buyer, or an Umbro home top from the treble-winning season of 1998/99 was also on sale for £199, with David Beckham’s name on the back.

However, if the shirt has actually been worn by a player (rather than just having the star’s name embossed on the back) then the value can rocket by thousands, particularly if it was worn during a season when the club has won a major trophy or trophies.

Programmes with a rarity value can also be worth their weight in gold.  A 1971 match programme for a United away friendly in Zurich against Grasshoppers was listed on an auction website with an estimated price of £660 to £700.

Old Trafford - home of Manchester United
ABOVE: Old Trafford – The Theatre of Dreams … kerching!

But even common programmes can be worth a £1 to £5 each on eBay, which is well worth knowing if you have a bundle or two tucked away in the loft. Plus don’t forget that sticker albums, badges, photos and even old scrapbooks may all have a value.

Among interesting items offered for sale recently by Gary Ashburn was an Old Trafford road sign that had been autographed by a number of players. Items of that nature can easily fetch around £250.

Even the likes of Sotheby’s have been known to place a premium on items that have a provenance connected to Manchester United.

In 2018, the posh auctioneers sold a 50 year old bottle of Chivas Regal Scotch Whisky, which was issued to celebrated the anniversary of the club’s 1968 European Cup win. It fetched a sobering £21,780.

Of course, it’s not just Man United items that are worth cash. Memorabilia connected to any club with a proud history can be valuable.

It’s a good idea to gauge the value of something by looking for similar items online, plus of course there are plenty of professional experts who may be willing to help. Gary Ashburn is contactable via his website here.

Also cautiously check out eBay and Amazon for a rough idea of value, plus sites like ClassicFootballShirts.co.uk may also be of interest. As always, it pays to shop around and don’t necessarily accept the first offer you are made for an item of interest. Plus of course, only sell if you really want to.

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