Cricket: Judge orders Test ticket refunds

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The Independent Online
FIVE spectators who felt they had been let down when the Test and County Cricket Board refused to refund the cost of their tickets after rain and bad light had reduced the second day of last summer's England versus Pakistan Test match at Edgbaston to only two balls have won their money back.

In a ruling which could have implications for all sports, Judge Sankey, sitting in the Small Claims Division of Birmingham County Court, yesterday awarded each of them a full refund on their pounds 13 tickets plus pounds 7 costs.

The TCCB's rules stipulated that refunds were only possible if a whole day's play was washed out, and the complaints of several hundred spectators, who demonstrated in front of the pavilion demanding their money back, fell on deaf ears. New regulations governing rain-affected Tests have since been approved for next season when full refunds will be paid if fewer than 10 overs are bowled in a day during the England-Australia series.

The TCCB, who will meet the 18 counties next Tuesday to decide what action to take and whether to lodge an appeal, fear that other spectators present at Edgbaston will renew their demands for refunds and, with the 18,000 tickets costing pounds 20 each on average, they could lose more than pounds 350,000.

Four of the five men who brought the action are trading standards officials, and they argued that their tickets were a form of contract which, as they had not seen much cricket, had been broken. Peter Pawlowski, chief consumer services officer at Sandwell Council, said: 'We were very unhappy at only seeing two balls bowled. We made a stand for everyone and got our money back. We had bought tickets and only then did we see the conditions on the back. Basically we had paid to see cricket and two balls was not enough.

'I see no reason why anyone else who was at that game cannot do what we have done. The only stumbling block is that both parties involved have to agree to go through the Small Claims court. In our case that was agreed, but if it isn't then it has to go through the county court which is more expensive.'

Kevin Mitchell, another of the five, said: 'Promoters of outdoor sports events will not be able to hide behind one-sided contractual terms. Ours was a victory for a fair deal for the paying customer.'