Newcastle United have agreed to refund season ticket holders for behind-closed-doors games this season. Thousands of supporters had money withdrawn from their bank accounts as part of long-term season ticket deals despite being unable to attend matches because of coronavirus.
But the club announced Thursday it will now reimburse fans in three stages over the season.
The first refund, for the first five home league games this campaign, will reach fans by mid-December.
Depending on if and when supporters are let back into St James’ Park, further refunds will come in early 2021 and at the end of the season. Fans can also opt to pay off their season tickets for 2021-22. They have until Friday, November 27 to request a refund for the first five matches.
“Despite months of work to plan for a safe, socially distanced return of supporters, clubs across the country have not yet been given the go-ahead by authorities and an outline date for the return of spectators has yet to be confirmed by the government,” said Newcastle in a statement.
“In an online meeting with supporters and supporter groups to discuss a potential safe return to matches last month, the club made a broad commitment to refunding season ticket holders at designated stages throughout the season.”
Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) said the move is a “step in the right direction” but that the issue “could have been sorted out a lot earlier, a lot easier and could have put supporters’ minds at rest much sooner”.
“Now, thanks to fan pressure, we have the information the fans deserve,” added NUST chairman Alex Hurst.
“It is instances like this where we are reminded why fan pressure is absolutely vital. At a time when the game is being brought into disrepute, fans are left to fight for what we know is right.”
Newcastle have already suspended single season-ticket sales for this campaign, but many fans are on deals which have had prices frozen for up to 10 years.
Payments will continue on those deals, which run for the current season until February 2021, and if refunds are requested, the club says they will run concurrently.
That is so that the price for long-term deals are extended into the following season. The club is the last in the Premier League to communicate its plans to supporters for the coming season. It is not yet known when fans will be allowed back into stadiums.
The news comes three days after owner Mike Ashley called for a review of the Premier League’s pay-per-view policy where fans are charged £14.95 to watch live games not already broadcast.
He described that price as “not acceptable” and fans have raised over £300,000 for charity instead of paying for televised games.