As children’s weekend sport goes on hold amid coronavirus shutdowns and social distancing measures, many parents are wondering if they can receive a refund on the fees they have already paid.
- Queensland’s peak sporting body says parents are entitled to request a full refund from their children’s sporting clubs
- Many clubs are asking families to be patient until a decision is made on if the season will commence
- Some sporting clubs will not have the capacity to refund registrations and could have to close
Some parents have paid hundreds of dollars upfront to cover both uniforms, registrations and insurance for their children to play club sport.
Queensland’s peak sporting body, QSport, says information from state and local clubs is currently being collected to look at the impact the virus is having on local sport.
“This is important for the industry bodies, and government, to devise a system to ensure the survival of the system,” chief executive, Peter Cummiskey, told ABC Radio Brisbane.
“Many clubs have already received memberships this season.
“People that have paid already are being asked to wait temporarily, to allow the system to look at the impact, but fundamentally a consistent approach to how this is dealt with is the best outcome.”
‘It will make things difficult for clubs’
Mr Cummiskey said people can request a refund if they are experiencing hardship.
“The thing to remember at the moment is that these competitions have been suspended, not abandoned, for the season,” he said.
“People are entitled to a refund if the service that they paid, including the involvement of a sporting competition, doesn’t take place.
“The industry view is that if you want people to come back when the competitions are able to be run.
“You want them to think about enrolling them next year so we need to deal with them sensitively and take account of the reality of the stress.”
Mr Cummiskey says it is important to note that if refunds are made, but the season restarts, it will make things difficult for many local clubs.
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“If membership fees are refunded for the season, but then in two months’ time the season gets underway, then they will have to turn around and reinvoice people which is double handling for clubs,” he said.
“The clubs’ capacity to repay will become important in this, and there needs to be that conversation, so people need to talk to their club and their club needs to listen and so does their state body.
“If some clubs have spent the money already they won’t want to see themselves go out of business because if there’s no clubs there’s no competition in the future.”
Families question refunds
Parent Peter Marsh said his children were set to play both netball and soccer this year.
“For my six-year-old I’ve paid $400 for the [soccer] season and for netball I payed $390,” he said.
“I’ve had communication from the clubs, and for our kids we were going to go along with it, but then with netball we got an email saying ‘please stop asking for refunds’.”
Mr Marsh said he had paid the insurance fee for his daughter to play netball and now the club has started chasing people for registration fees.
“We then got an invoice from the netball club asking us to pay,” he said.
“You want to try and be fair and responsible, and we get that they’re saying ‘we’re going to wait and see’ [if the competition will proceed], but we haven’t seen anyone from any sporting club step-up and say ‘you’re going to get a refund’.”
Mr Marsh says although he does not want sporting clubs to fold, he wants to use the money to support his family and his parents.
“I would rather get the full refund so I can use that money to help others, including my family, by helping them get food or the like,” he said.
Brisbane AFL sporting club, Yeronga Junior Australian Football Club (JAFC), sent emails to their members detailing their plans to retain members. The emails said:
“AFL has currently recommended that registrations stay afoot and the fees be retained at this point as we are all hopeful that our season can recommence this year.
“The AFL and AFLQ will be doing their best to make sure each of our kids will get back on the field so we have decided, for the benefit of football, to abide by this and leave the registration fees with AFL.
“As a club, however, we understand that many of our families may have lost their income, or part of, through this crisis.
“Therefore we welcome those that wish to seek a refund for community football registration fees will facilitate this without de-registering players by offering a full refund out of the club’s finances.
“We can then work with you to re-establish those funds once the games recommence.”
Mr Comminsky is urging parents concerned about fees to contact their local club.
“We need to help people in duress as well to make sure the clubs and competitions are there in the future,” he said.