GAA has case to answer over season ticket, expert claims

Consumer rights expert Dermott Jewell has said the GAA has a case to answer after it changed season ticket terms and conditions last month without notifying holders .
GAA has case to answer over season ticket, expert claims
Dermott Jewell: “It would be open to challenge because when you sell something with terms and conditions that imply if whatever you paid for is not delivered to you then the seller can’t just walk away, that’s unfair."

Consumer rights expert Dermott Jewell has said the GAA has a case to answer after it changed season ticket terms and conditions last month without notifying holders.

A clause was inserted to state there would be no refunds provided in the event of the GAA season, Allianz National League or Championship being postponed due to “circumstances outside of the control of the GAA (Natural Disaster, Pandemic, etc.)”.

The date of the amendment was picked up by Twitter account @gaapicks, which highlighted that the terms and conditions had been updated from the version released in December.

However, the GAA stressed it is within its rights to adjust the small print of the loyalty scheme without making holders aware of such changes.

A latter clause reads: “GAA may make changes and update these terms and conditions at any time without further notice to you.

“It is your sole responsibility to check the terms and conditions periodically, because your continued use of the Season Ticket will mean you accept those changes and updates.”

Contacted by the Irish Examiner, GAA director of communications, Alan Milton, confirmed the change to the terms and conditions was made the week that the GAA announced the cessation of all Gaelic Games activities: “The clause was added the week ending March 15. Amendments are catered for in the terms and conditions and the ticketing department have liaised with season ticket holders who have made contact with various queries since the games have stopped.”

While GAA president John Horan said the organisation is open to the idea of completing the 2020 championship next year, it remains the intention for it to take place this season, providing it is safe to do so.

However, Consumers’ Association of Ireland policy and council advisor Mr Jewell believes there are grounds for the terms and conditions to be considered as unfair and biased in favour of the GAA.

“It would be open to challenge because when you sell something with terms and conditions that imply if whatever you paid for is not delivered to you then the seller can’t just walk away, that’s unfair. It is biased in favour of one side.

“It’s particularly unfair if nobody at the time was aware of it. The GAA needs to come across and be honest as to why they did this and by that I mean are they going to suffer undue hardship and excessive costs in comparison to what the loss to their supporters is, which strikes me as being significant enough.

“It would be interesting to hear what the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission would have to say about it because it is they who uphold consumer law.”

As reported last month, the GAA has already spent season ticket money as counties received a large percentage of their share of season ticket sales. For every €120 adult inter-county season- only ticket sold, they are entitled to €45 and as a means of improving county boards’ cash flow, Croke Park distributed at least 75% of the amounts owed to them in recent weeks.

The €120 adult season ticket entitles the subscriber to admission to all their chosen county team’s league games, their opening Championship game, and the All-Ireland club finals. Bearing in mind there were two football league games remaining and factoring in the first provincial match, it could be argued some holders would lose out on half their subscription were the Allianz Leagues and Championship to be deemed null and void.

Meanwhile, one of the GAA’s management committee now charged with powers to change the Championship has called for the season to be postponed until 2021.

Connacht GAA chairman Gerry McGovern, who is a member of the 15-person Coiste Bainistí — which was recently given power to change competition structures by a remote Special Congress — said it is time to act decisively.

Mr McGovern said that such a move to protect the GAA’s “people and communities” will once and for all prove that “the GAA is not just a money-driven organisation”.

He said: “I firmly believe it is time to call off all GAA activities for the year. It’s time to be decisive, retire 2020, and start again in 2021. We can go and play this year’s championship in 2021 and do everything as we would normally do.

“If we take this step I think it will prove one thing: It will show that the GAA is not just a money-driven organisation.

“It will show that we are out for the good of the people and the community.

“That’s the way we have to look at it — some people might not agree with me, but those are my personal views on the matter.”

Earlier this week, GAA president John Horan contradicted reports that inter-county players would be tested en masse ahead of a return to county activity, while Mr McGovern says the GAA cannot ask club players to play behind closed doors before it is deemed safe for the general public to have similar get-togethers.

“There has been much discussion at all levels about how and when we should return to the playing fields and at this stage I fear we will not see any games played for the rest of this year,” added Mr McGovern.

“Already we know that no matches are going to take place in front of crowds of over 5,000 until the end of August, and that is only a notional time. It increasingly looks as if there won’t be any championship at all in 2020.

“A return to club championship has been mooted as the first step, but my attitude to that is, why endanger club players in an environment like this? Why put club players out to play a game and there mightn’t be 100 people at them?

“The same health concerns are there for those players, they’ll be in the one room, changing together, sweating and talking, all of which are opportunities to spread disease. Why should we in the GAA put our club players in those type of situations? The big fear in all of this is that we could have a repeat virus that may be worse than this one.”

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