Dublin family’s Man United trip left in limbo after travel firm Thomas Cook goes into liquidation

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23/9/19 Claire and Thomas Ralph with son Sean age 19 and daughter Katie, 21, who had booked a trip to see a Manchester United game on St Stephen's day with Thomas Cook. Picture: Arthur Carron
23/9/19 Claire and Thomas Ralph with son Sean age 19 and daughter Katie, 21, who had booked a trip to see a Manchester United game on St Stephen’s day with Thomas Cook. Picture: Arthur Carron

A teenager whose Christmas present was a trip to see Manchester United play is “devastated” after learning the travel agent his family used has gone into liquidation.

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Sean Ralph (19), from Swords, Dublin was due to see Manchester United play Newcastle on St Stephen’s Day.

He organised the trip, which was funded by his parents as part of his Christmas present this year, for himself, mother Claire, father Tim and sister Katie to fly over to Manchester from Dublin Airport with Ryanair.

He booked the hotel room and tickets for the match for himself and Claire through travel agent Thomas Cook.

The booking came a year after the family’s plans to visit for Sean’s 18th birthday fell through because he was too busy with school.

However, when the 178-year-old company announced it would cease trading with immediate effect on Monday, he was “devastated”.

His mother, Claire, told Independent.ie “He’s devastated, to say the least”.

“It’s his first week in college and it’s not easy. He’s been looking forward to this for so long. It was meant to happen last year as an 18th birthday present, but we didn’t get around to it.”



23/9/19 Claire and Thomas Ralph with son Sean (19) and daughter Katie (21), who had booked a trip to see a Manchester United game on St Stephen's day with Thomas Cook. Photo: Arthur Carron23/9/19 Claire and Thomas Ralph with son Sean (19) and daughter Katie (21), who had booked a trip to see a Manchester United game on St Stephen's day with Thomas Cook. Photo: Arthur Carron

23/9/19 Claire and Thomas Ralph with son Sean (19) and daughter Katie (21), who had booked a trip to see a Manchester United game on St Stephen’s day with Thomas Cook. Photo: Arthur Carron

Sean, who has been a Man United supporter for “many years”, said “it is what it is. I’m not happy, obviously”.

“When it was my 18th birthday I was just too busy with school,” he said.

“The four of us are going, but it’s just me and my Mam who were going to the match. It was just under €500.

“That included the match tickets and the hotel for two of us, and then my mam and my sister had just booked a hotel room in the same hotel. Their hotel is fine, the flights are fine. It’s just the two match tickets and the hotel for the two of us, it’s just under €500.

“We’ll just have to wait and see really at this stage,” he added.

Read more: Thomas Cook Q&A: What happens now? Who will pay? What about Irish customers?

Thomas Cook, a travel partner of the club, ceased trading after failing to come up with a sum of €225m needed to keep the company afloat.

A statement released by Manchester United said that they “started to work through contingency plans” when they first heard of their travel partners collapse.

“We were sad to hear the news this morning regarding Thomas Cook and the impact this will have on its customers and employees. Along with other Premier league clubs, Thomas Cook Sports have been travel partners with Manchester United.

“They have pre-sold a small number of tickets and hospitality for some home matches this season, along with travel packages to two upcoming UEFA Europa League away games. 

“As soon as we were aware of their potential insolvency, we started to work through contingency plans and we will endeavour to contact affected Manchester United fans who had booked direct via Thomas Cook,” they added.

Read more: Irish holidaymakers impacted as Thomas Cook ceases trading with immediate effect

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