Ulster Rugby: Season ticket holders 'generally happy' with account credit offer

The 2019/20 season was suspended with Ulster still in contention in both the Pro14 and European Champions Cup

Ulster Rugby fans are "generally happy" to receive an account credit worth 20% of their season ticket value instead of a cash refund, says the chairman of a prominent supporters club.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the season being suspended indefinitely in March and Ulster Rugby Supporters' Club chairman Jonathan Bill said: "People realise that Ulster have no choice in the matter."

"There is a widespread feeling that we spent that money 12 months ago and Ulster needs it more than we do."

Instead of selling season tickets in 2020-21, Ulster will offer a club membership scheme which will include priority access to tickets.

Ulster had one category 'A' game (Leinster) and three category 'B' home games (Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dragons) remaining in their 2019-20 Pro14 campaign.

While purchasers of tickets to individual matches are able to claim a full refund, season-ticket holders are entitled to an account credit worth 20% and half-season ticket holders will be entitled to claim a 50% account credit.

All claims must be made to the club by 30 June.

Ulster's chief executive Jonny Petrie said the club has to make "decisions which place the long-term interests of our supporters at the forefront".

The URSC, which has around 1,000 members, has backed those decisions.

"These are unprecedented times and fans understand Ulster don't have all the answers," Bill said.

"Ulster only submitted a training plan to the Executive today [Monday], so we don't have training yet let alone playing games, never mind playing games in front of spectators. So it is baby steps.

"I am a terrace-dweller and I pay just north of £200 for a season ticket so my rebate is around £40-£45. Others who pay £450 or so for a prime seat, and maybe have a partner sitting with them, are paying around £1,000 so that is a rebate of around £200.

"I am sure some people who have suffered financially because of the virus may want their money back, and if so they should speak to Ulster Rugby and I am sure Ulster will listen.

"But the route Ulster has taken ties in with a lot of other teams and sports so I don't think they could have done anything different, or any better.

"We don't know when the games will restart and they certainly won't be in front of fans, they will be in empty stadia, and we don't know when the 2020-21 season will start so there is no surprise there are no season tickets.

"And the way we are dealing with it this season in terms of a 20% rebate is reasonable."

Leinster launched a membership scheme on Monday for the 2020-21 season giving fans priority access to tickets, which are expected to be limited because of social distancing measures.

Craig Gilroy
Ulster are set to return to action against one of their interprovincial rivals in late August, behind closed doors

The cost of the scheme (120 euros) was criticised by many fans on social media.

Ulster are also launching a membership scheme called #TogetherUlster but Bill claimed he "very much doubts" it will cost that much.

"Ulster will realise that is too much for us, we are much more careful with our money! It should be around half of that.

"If capacity is a quarter or a third then there would be 5-6,000 thousand people at Kingspan Stadium so you need some way of sorting that out, and a membership scheme is a way of doing that.

"The big weakness is there is no guarantee there will be tickets next season at all.

"All we know for sure is there will be games behind closed doors in August against other Irish teams in Dublin. Anything beyond that, the government will decide.

"Personally I cannot see us back at the Kingspan before mid-November but this is a step in the right direction as we move on hopefully to the next phase."

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