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Leinster Rugby cancel 2020/21 season tickets as CEO Mick Dawson describes impact of pandemic as 'significant'

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Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Leinster Rugby have cancelled their 2020-21 season tickets. Photo by Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson has described the financial impact of the Covid-19 shutdown on the province as "significant."

The Guinness PRO14 champions have been the first Irish side to make a move on tickets, offering refunds on their remaining fixtures including the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final against Saracens and cancelling the sale of the 2020/21 season tickets.

The move is another example of the uncertainty hanging over Irish rugby, even after the IRFU announced plans to return behind closed doors in August.

The sport has been shut down since the start of March and if it will be allowed to return it could be a long time before supporters are allowed to attend.

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Given the significant proportion of Irish rugby’s revenue that is generated through ticket sales, the decision will be a major blow to Leinster’s balance sheet.

In a statement, the province said: "With social distancing now likely to remain a part of sporting and other spectator events for some time to come, that renewal has now been formally cancelled by Leinster Rugby as it was not feasible to accommodate over 12,800 season ticket holders for next season in the RDS Arena."

To compensate, Leinster have started a membership scheme that will allow fans priority access to any tickets that do become available next season.

"The consequences of the pandemic and implications for Leinster Rugby and our loyal supporters are significant," Dawson said.

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Michael Dawson, CEO of Leinster Rugby. Photo: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Michael Dawson, CEO of Leinster Rugby. Photo: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

Michael Dawson, CEO of Leinster Rugby. Photo: Matt Browne/SPORTSFILE

"Our public health obligations to all of our stakeholders are key as we seek to plot the return of Leinster Rugby. Season ticket holders are and will continue to be the foundation stone of our province.

"Social distancing is imperative as we consider the 2020/21 season.

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"As a consequence, we have tried to develop a solution which we believe is fair and balanced. The new Official Membership offering attempts to maintain critical financial support while protecting season ticket holders’ future rights.

"Cancelling our Season Ticket offering is an unprecedented step and one that will have a significant financial impact on our organisation but we feel it is the right decision to make.

"It has been a very difficult time for everyone and nobody knows what the future will look like but as a business, we have to make decisions now based on the best information available to us.

"The priority now is to finish the 2019/20 season, look after those that have tickets outstanding and then hopefully start the 2020/21 season.

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Leinster supporters at the Aviva Stadium. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy

Leinster supporters at the Aviva Stadium. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy

Leinster supporters at the Aviva Stadium. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy

"Our supporters have been a crucial part of our success over the years and it is also vital that when we all come back from this, and we will come back, that we have a vibrant supporter base to welcome to the RDS Arena.

"We feel that by securing their right to purchase their seat for 2021/22, that our supporters will take some comfort from the steps we have taken."

Supporters who bought individual tickets for the remaining matches this season against Saracens, Munster, Zebre and Cardiff Blues will receive a refund through Ticketmaster or at the point of purchase, while season ticket holders’ accounts will be credited.

The province advised supporters to contact information@leinsterrugby.ie with any queries.

Munster, meanwhile, issued an update to their fans on Friday after IRFU chief Philip Browne outlined plans for the return of rugby.

"It is important to note that the roadmap is at proposal stage and needs government approval before it can be fully confirmed and implemented," it read.

"We are awaiting further details from Guinness PRO14 on how these proposed fixtures will impact on the original 2019/20 fixture list, and the possible implications for ticket holders.

"As soon as we have confirmed all details with regards to future fixtures, we will update you with all possible options regarding tickets."

Munster already have a membership scheme in place for fans.


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