‘Why can’t I spend the vouchers online?’ – Some answers to your season ticket compensation questions
PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 July 2020
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town yesterday announced the five compensation options available to those who had season tickets for the curtailed 2019/20 campaign. Here are some answers to a raft of questions Blues fans have been posing following the news.
Why did this announcement take so long?
League One action was suspended on March 13, while Town’s final eight matches were cancelled on June 9. So why did it taken until July 8 for the Blues to announce these range of rebate options? In short, technology is blamed.
The reason given to us was that the club have switched online ticket partner this summer to SeatGeek. Their contract with previous provider Talent expired on June 30, so SeatGeek couldn’t start migrating the large database until then.
Flexibility with the furlough scheme from the start of July has also allowed the club to recently bring staff into the ticket office to work on a part-time basis.
Couldn’t the club have announced the options before the system was ready? Yes, but apparently past experience has shown them that when something is announced people tend to want to act on it straight away. Town wanted everything to be ‘live’.
Why can’t I spend the vouchers online?
Many have said that the boosted value voucher option would have appealed had they been able to order merchandise (the new away kit is set to go on sale today) and purchase tickets online. Instead, they may choose the cash refund option given the club have said that vouchers must be spent in person at the Planet Blue store, at food and drink outlets on the Portman Road concourses or at the ticket office.
The reason given is that providing online vouchers ‘is not feasible’ when you are dealing with different software platforms, i.e. one for Planet Blue, one for tickets. The club say they wanted supporters to have the maximum choice in where to use the vouchers and doing so in person is the only way of having that multiple usage.
It’s understood that vouchers will be sent out in various denominations – £5, £10, £20 etc. Change will not be given when these are spent.
What if I really need the full refund now?
The Covid-19 crisis has pushed many into financial hardship. It’s therefore controversial that the club have said that supporters who want a full cash refund must wait for it to be drip-fed back into bank accounts over the next 10 months. Some may need that money – their money for goods which weren’t received – right now.
It’s understood that the Blues will listen to individual cases sympathetically should anyone in that position get in touch.
Couldn’t the club have found a better solution to cash flow rather than holding on to fans’ money?
Paying refunds in instalments is obviously designed to protect the club against the potential of 12,000 people all asking for their money back. Do that overnight and it would represent a payout of around £800k.
As some have pointed out though, if you’re asking supporters to take a deferral on money owed to them, should you not have asked the same of players and staff?
It’s understood that discussions were held with players about pay deferrals and the players are willing to help the club out. The PFA are having a say though and have advised its members to wait and see what the outcome is of salary cap proposals which have been discussed – these are likely to go to a vote amongst the clubs in League One and Two in the next few weeks.
Town will certainly have one of the biggest wage budgets in the division at the moment and be well over the £2.5m ceiling that has been proposed in League One.
What happens with vouchers if fans aren’t allowed to return to Portman Road in 2020/21?
The club have stated that ‘cash’ vouchers, which must be used in person at the stadium, are ‘valid for the duration of the 2020/21 season’. So what happens in the event that the whole of next season is played behind closed doors?
It’s understood in that unlikely scenario, the club will extend the timeframe in which vouchers can be used.
Will I definitely have to wait until May to get all my money back?
Not necessarily. Ipswich may well reassess how quickly the refunds are paid if the financial picture improves. Much will depend on how many people ask for the full refund and, perhaps more significantly, how soon Town can welcome supporters back to Portman Road for games. If the answer to those questions is ‘a small percentage’ and ‘soon’, then the club ‘may have some flexibility’ to look at reducing the timescale for repayments.
It’s worth noting that even if, say, 30 per cent of capacity is allowed to return, that means the 9,000 or so season ticket holders will be able to attend but there will be no extra income in ticket revenue from matchday sales – a significant loss.
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