Southampton Football Club today confirmed that they will offer a refund to all 2020/21 Season Ticket holders for the remaining games of the current Premier League campaign.
To give fans more of an understanding as to why the decision to refund Season Tickets was made, the club’s Chief Commercial Officer, David Thomas, took part in a Q&A which you can read below.
You can find out more about how Season Ticket holders will be given the option to claim a refund here.
Why did the club go on sale with 2020/21 Season Tickets at a time when fans were not allowed to attend games at St Mary’s?
When we released the 2020/21 Season Tickets, the world was a different place. At the time we did not know when fans would be allowed to return to live matches, but we wanted to be prepared for the possibility that supporters would be allowed back, potentially with a reduced capacity at the stadium.
Offering fans that opportunity to buy a Season Ticket meant that we were able to understand how many of our loyal supporters wanted to come to games, enabling us to begin planning for their return with all the extra measures that would need to be in place to ensure their safety.
What was the reasoning behind the Saints Promise, guaranteeing a refund for Season Ticket holders that weren’t able to attend matches?
Originally, we thought it was prudent to assume that we would start the season with a limited capacity and that, as the season went on, we would be in a position to allow more fans back to St Mary’s.
At the same time, we knew Season Ticket holders would want clarity around what would happen if they weren’t able to attend games. For that reason, we outlined our commitment to refund fans for any matches they missed from the start, being one of the few clubs to do this.
What we did not foresee was that the situation would not have progressed as we anticipated and that in January we would still be playing games behind closed doors.
We have now reacted to the developing situation, with Covid-19 continuing to restrict everyone’s day to day lives, by allowing our Season Ticket holders the flexibility to claim a full refund. This is because we’re keen for those fans that would feel the benefit of having the refund to be able to claim one.
Did the club refund Season Ticket holders for matches they were not able to attend, as outlined in the Saints Promise?
For the vast majority of Season Ticket holders we have refunded as per our promise, indeed at a far higher volume and scale then we had ever forecast which in itself presented far greater complexity than we had anticipated.
Our initial expectation was that we would be able to welcome supporters back by November and that the refund process would not be required to the same scale at that point. This scenario has not played out and the work involved in processing regular refunds would be unsustainable over a full season.
This was the first time the club had carried out refunds on a regular basis and to such a large scale, which required a complex process. To ensure accuracy across thousands of refunds, we needed to process the payments in small batches with any delay having a knock-on effect.
Around 90% of the refunds processed were within the 14 days that were outlined in the Saints Promise, although we did experience slight delays during December whilst our Ticketing team were working hard to ensure that fans could be welcomed back for the Sheffield United and Manchester City games.
This meant that there were fans that received their refunds outside the 14-day period, which we understand was frustrating for supporters and we appreciate their patience throughout this challenging process.
What will happen if supporters are allowed back at St Mary’s this season?
Having fans at St Mary’s for the games against Sheffield United and Manchester City means that we already have a lot of the planning in place to welcome fans back to the stadium in future, whatever the restrictions are.
We now have information from our Season Ticket holders, including details of their social bubbles, which means that we are in a position to react quickly if the current situation changes.
We saw the benefit of having this information ready when we were given short notice to allow fans to attend the Sheffield United and Manchester City matches. In a short turnaround, we were able to contact fans and inform them of the measures in place, receiving positive feedback from fans who attended.
Season Ticket holders will remain the priority when we’re allowed to reopen the stadium. We will charge on a match-by-match basis at the pro rata Season Ticket price – for example, if you are a Junior Season Ticket holder at £19, a ticket for a single match would be £1.
Furthermore, we have already identified groups amongst our Season Tickets holders who would be given priority for any games where fans are allowed, including our priority group that have attended the majority of the teams matches in recent seasons and those that had been selected in the ballot to attend the West Ham United match before the recent restrictions made that impossible.
How much have fans been a consideration in the decisions made around 2020/21 Season Tickets?
Throughout the current campaign we have tried to highlight our acknowledgement of fans in each decision we’ve made.
When 2020/21 Season Tickets went on sale, over 10,000 fans were able to take advantage of the free gift we offered to them and we will honour the 10 per cent retail discount for Season Ticket holders.
Season Ticket holders will remain a priority for when we can welcome fans back to St Mary’s, with some fans being fortunate enough to have already been to a game and those that haven’t yet being at the front of the queue when the stadium reopens.
We have also made a commitment to increase the club’s engagement with fans, starting with a new monthly Season Ticket holder newsletter.
The last year has been a challenging time for everyone but we are fortunate to have such a passionate fan base and we would like to thank them for their continued patience and support.