Season ticket issues for Premier League clubs amid football’s uncertain future

Norwich City do not know when they will next be able to welcome supporters back to Carrow Road Pictu

Norwich City do not know when they will next be able to welcome supporters back to Carrow Road Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Potential season ticket rebates are one of the many uncertain issues for clubs to prepare for amid football’s coronavirus suspension, with payments for the 2020-21 season having already started for Norwich City supporters.

City’s chief operating officer Ben Kensell has already spoken of potentially costly rebates of around £9million to supporters and commercial partners if games are played behind closed doors, if and when the 2019-20 season can be concluded.

Speculation and uncertainty around Project Restart has left English football in a state of limbo and it’s understood that is why many clubs have been unable to offer clarity to supporters on financial aspects of tickets.

At Norwich, for example, there are around 22,000 season ticket holders and around 14,000 of those spread the cost of their payment over 12 months thanks to an interest-free direct debit scheme.

It was revealed in February that over 20,000 supporters had already renewed for next season ahead of the first payment deadline of February 21 – after a price freeze was retained for an eighth consecutive campaign - despite City’s precarious survival prospects, sitting six points from safety with nine games remaining.

Payment for City’s direct debit scheme is taken on the last working day of each month, with payments for 2020-21 having started at the end of March - a similar timescale to every season.

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It’s understood that while the Canaries are preparing for potential rebates for this season’s games, that any plans put in place cannot be activated until the Premier League have officially confirmed that this season’s outstanding matches will be played behind closed doors, if and when it is safe to resume.

MORE: Reports claim Premier League clubs arguing over relegation aspects of Project Restart

That is also understood to be the case for 2020-21 season ticket payments as, at present, clubs are officially preparing to conclude this campaign with the intention of 2020-21 still going ahead as planned - although its format will depend on when and if this season is concluded.

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If some of that campaign ends up being played behind closed doors as well then the financial impacts across the game could be drastic, with huge amounts in rebates potentially owed to supporters.

Some clubs in the Premier League, including Liverpool, Tottenham and Bournemouth, have put season ticket renewals on hold, while Brighton offered a three-month payment holiday on renewals.

However, each club goes about their business differently, with payment schedules differing and the demand for season tickets varying.

For the Canaries, as a self-funded club without the wealthy backing that the majority of their rivals receive, the revenue generated from season tickets is of huge importance - with gate receipts and ticket sales accounting for just short of £10million in the club’s financial accounts for 2018-19.

The next video conference of senior staff from the 20 Premier League clubs and the league’s top brass is likely to follow the government’s briefing later in the week, which is expected to detail how the societal lockdown and social distancing measures could start to ease in the coming months - amid the global health crisis, which has claimed over 28,000 lives so far in the UK this year.

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