Exeter Chiefs: 'Commercial decision' to deny Flybe staff at rugby

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Chiefs ticket
Image caption,
Flybe allocated tickets as staff incentives prior to the airline collapsing

The chairman of a Premiership rugby club said it was a "commercial decision" to turn away former Flybe staff from a match on Saturday.

The staff had won Exeter Chiefs tickets at work that had been issued as part of a sponsorship arrangement between the airline and the club.

They were among 2,000 workers made redundant when the airline collapsed.

Tony Rowe said "there isn't a lot of compassion in business" after ticket holders were left disappointed.

"I feel sorry for all their staff who have lost their jobs but the reality is they were given something by their previous employers and that item was void," he said.

He added the rugby club was "not a charity".

Flybe staff were allocated tickets as work incentives and some turned up to the match against Bath expecting to use them.

However, they were surprised to be told they could not attend the game as the tickets were no longer valid.

Image source, Rex Features
Image caption,
Chief executive and chairman of Exeter Chiefs Tony Rowe has been involved with the club for more than 20 years

Mr Rowe said he was "saddened to hear of the airline's demise" but it had "failed to conclude a commercial agreement".

He explained tickets were issued to Flybe, who had been sponsors since 2010, and the club did not know some were used as staff incentives.

Mr Rowe said airline managers were told "if the deal is off, the deal is off" and that their allocated tickets would not be accepted at the gate.

"It appears this key information was not forwarded on to those staff who had been allocated tickets for this game and that of future games," he added.

Image source, Tanya Lloyd
Image caption,
Tanya Lloyd was one of the Flybe staff turned away from the game

All Flybe staff have now been offered free admission to watch the Exeter Braves, the club's second team, in a match next month "as a small gesture".

Tickets for the match against Saracens Storm are available on the club's website at £10 for an adult.

Exeter Chiefs are currently top of the Premiership after beating Bath 57-20.

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