by Tony Attwood
Here are three things that probably won’t surprise you in the slightest.
First, I’ve never read the terms and conditions relating to my Arsenal season ticket.
Second, from what I know generally, terms and conditions are not actually written in my favour.
Third, there is no mention of pandemics in the Arsenal terms and conditions.
OK, so I should have read the terms and conditions, but somehow I never have. I didn’t at Highbury, and I didn’t at the new stadium. Because, supposing I had, and hadn’t liked what I read, what then? Would I have stopped attending games? I doubt it.
Anyway, the terms and conditions are on line, so I could read them there. And they say this
Changes to dates, refunds and exchanges
11.1 No guarantees can be given by the Club that a Match will take place at a particular time or on a particular date. The Club reserves the right to reschedule any Match or, if necessary, play the Match out of view of the public, without notice and without any liability whatsoever. Your Season Ticket will, unless the Match is required to be played out of view of the public, enable you to attend the re-arranged Match if it is one of the 26 Matches referred to in clause 4.3 above.
So if, as seems increasingly likely, we move over to behind closed doors games I’ve got no rights to a refund.
That doesn’t mean that the club will refuse to credit me on next season’s ticket, but that, of course, will lose the club a lot of dosh, unless they find a way of putting the game on a broadcast on Arsenal TV, with me typing in my membership details in order to gain access. That could be one solution.
In UK law, although there are specific exemptions, companies are allowed to write their own terms and conditions in any way they see fit, but they have to be fair and reasonable, and balance the rights of the consumer with the rights of the retailer. It could be that the right of the club to cancel matches without any refund or to play them behind closed doors without any refund might not be seen as reasonable in the eyes of the law. But that of course would only be tested in court – and that would only happen if the club decided not to offer any compensation to season ticket holders and one of the fans’ groups decided to go to court.
There is also the issue of what would happen in terms of other clubs.
In this regard, clearly Arsenal will not be on its own in cancelling games in front of members. If all the clubs stand together and fail to offer refunds then that would probably mean a united action by supporters groups working together, maybe taking one club to court as a test case.
But if the clubs break ranks and some give credits and refunds while others don’t that could be an interesting scenario.
And this latter case is likely to happen, given the differing financial situations of different clubs.
Of course, I don’t know the detailed ins and outs of each club’s finances, nor their attitude towards public relations and their fans, but we can imagine that Arsenal are moderately ok, with the stadium paid for (and as always I must add – if you are going to allege that the stadium has not been paid for, please send me some evidence for this, because the story is running all the time, but as yet, no evidence has been provided). But Arsenal spent record sums on players recently, and are surviving now without European money. They probably don’t want to spend anything they don’t have to.
Tottenham, on the other hand, most certainly have a full stadium debt to service, so their lack of income, including the additional money from American football, and maybe some other events, is probably very much required the debt interest and repayment. They also have the same problem Arsenal have in terms of worries about next season in Europe.
This is a story that is likely to take off in the next few hours or days. We wait and see.
One possibility, of course, is that the League programme will be abandoned. So what happens then in terms of next season’s European places?
With Manchester City excommunicated from Europe, then Liverpool, Leicester, Chelsea and Man United would presumably go to the Champions League. Wolverhampton, Sheffield and Tottenham would go into the Europa.
But could we claim that some clubs are disadvantaged because they have only played 28 games? If yes then the average points per game would be used which gives that final column.
And that shows that Arsenal are above Tottenham in terms of average points per game. I am not saying this will happen – there is nothing in the rule book to cover this sort of situation. But giving Tottenham a place in the Europa through virtue of having played 29 games against Arsenal’s 28 could be a case that might raise some interest.
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