Filed: Sunday, 14th July 2002
By: Graeme Howlett
Sky TV have confirmed that they have no plans to compensate Hammers fans left out of pocket due to the TV company's decision to alter the date of the Newcastle United away fixture.
Furious Hammers fans were up in arms when Sky switched the date of the opening Premiership fixture from Saturday 17th to Monday 19th August.
Many fans had already purchased tickets for trains and flights prior to the switch after being told by Sky that they had no intention of altering the date of the game, despite rumours at the time suggesting otherwise - rumours which turned out to be spot on.
With many Hammers fans being told by the travel companies that they were unlikely to receive a refund for the pre-booked tickets, we asked Sky to justify their stance.
Viewer relations officer Helen Forbes told us:
"Sky have no plans to compensate for financial loss which may have arisen due to this fixture being changed.
"All decisions concerning what teams will be featured in our live football coverage are made in conjunction with the Football Association and the individual club concerned.
"Generally speaking, under our current contract, we are unable to broadcast live coverage of football on Saturdays, and with this in mind, from time to time a decision is made to reschedule Saturday games for broadcast on Sky on Sundays or Mondays.
"Whilst it is worth pointing out that the football fixtures listings are always subject to change, we make every effort to provide fans and viewers with as much advance notification as possible."
However this was clearly not the case in this instance; an email from Sky's Viewer Relations Officer Keith Dixon sent to one KUMB reader in response to a question regarding a possible date switch just HOURS before the official announcement confirming the switch read:
"Sky Sports do not have any plans to screen the Newcastle United v West Ham United match on Monday 19th August at present."
Gordon Thrower, a Hammers fan who had planned to attend the game raged:
"I currently hold air tickets to the value of £125.60 that, under current circumstances I am unlikely to be able to use.
"Cancellation charges in respect of these tickets would leave me with thegrand sum of £16 leaving me potentially out of pocket by £109.60 - a situation which is wholly due to the actions of Sky."
"They should have done more to let supporters know in advance - and it's not just West Ham fans who have lost out, there are many Newcastle fans who come from a long way away too.
"I'll give West Ham their due, they offered me free coach travel as a goodwill gesture. I'll still go, but it means paying out more money for a hotel."
Whilst another said:
"Football may be big business now but surely, as a paying customer, my thoughts and feelings should be valued. Fat chance.
"What is the point of having a fixture list if the dates can be changed whenever Sky click their greedy fingers? Are fans really a priority in football any more?"
* Thanks to Gordon Thrower for his assistance with this article.
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