Fans call for Barca refund

Last updated : 15 December 2002 By Martyn Elliott

The club moved quickly to assure fans who’d travelled on official trips to Spain that they would be compensated for missing the game, but that still left all the supporters who’d travelled independently out of pocket.

Kevin Miles of the Independent Newcastle United Supporters' Association told the Sunday Mirror: "The club's offer to compensate the fans who were on the official trips is commendable, but I don't think it goes far enough.

"There was an insinuation from the club that fans who travel on the official trips are somehow more loyal than those - by far the majority of Newcastle fans - who travel independently.

"I think every fan who made the long journey to Spain to support the team and then missed out through no fault of their own deserves compensation of some sort.

"I was one of the fans who had to return home without seeing what was one of the biggest matches in Newcastle's history and it was a soul-destroying experience.

"We all realise that we have no legal rights to compensation, but it would be a great public relations gesture if Newcastle offered some form of financial recompense.

"The idea of compensation is not without precedent. Following the September 11 atrocities last year Manchester United's Champions League game in Athens was postponed at short notice.

"Manchester United paid compensation of £150 to every fan who had purchased a match ticket for the game in Athens.

"It was a great gesture and one that was appreciated by the fans. I can't see why Newcastle can't do the same.

"Qualifying for the second phase of the Champions League is reported to have earned Newcastle an extra £10million.

"If they gave £50 to every fan who missed out - that's around 2,000 supporters - it would only cost them £100,000.

"The compensation payment would be a drop in the ocean to them.

"I know that legally there is no obligation on them to pay anything, but it would be an excellent gesture of goodwill to those who lost out and suffered a miserable experience."

This is a thorny issue for the club, who have no legal obligation to compensate supporters who travelled independently and made no money from those fans’ trips.

But, there is a strong argument for saying that they do have a moral responsibility to all supporters, who after all are the people who pay the wages of the club’s directors, officials and players.

I’m sure that the cost of fully refunding everybody’s travel costs would prove prohibitive, but a small cash contribution or a discount off next year’s season ticket for the fans who missed out would at least show us that the club does have at least some interest in fans’ welfare.

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