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Surrey member fails in bid to reclaim fee after 2020 lock-out

Loyalty of majority of members during Covid to be commemorated at Oval

George Dobell
George Dobell
No crowds were permitted at the Kia Oval in 2020  •  Getty Images

No crowds were permitted at the Kia Oval in 2020  •  Getty Images

Surrey have confirmed that a former club member attempted to take them to the small claims court for the value of their 2020 season membership.
With the Covid pandemic forcing the first-class counties to play behind closed doors last year, various schemes were put in place to compensate members. Surrey, for example, contacted their members to offer an opportunity to apply for a 25 percent refund, while junior membership was rolled into 2022. If they didn't apply, the club retained the full amount. The club also said they were prepared to offer full refunds to members in need if they contacted them directly.
Anyone accepting a full refund, however, had to accept relinquishing their membership rights. And that included priority access to international tickets. The member who threatened legal action is understood to have been told they could have a full refund, but would also be refunded for the eight Test tickets they had bought.
The legal action came to nothing and the club say the former member would be welcome to re-join the club.
In a gesture of gratitude towards supporters, the names of all members of the club in 2020 will be recorded on the walls of Surrey's new development at One Oval Square. Membership numbers are currently 13,500 - the highest in the club's modern history - while their chief executive, Richard Gould, has described the redeveloped ground as offering "the best members' facilities in world cricket".
Kent, too, admit that one person resigned their membership in protest though they insist there was no need to do so. Again, they were prepared to offer full refunds upon request due to financial hardship but were, in the words of their chief executive, Simon Storey, "overwhelmed" by the support received from their membership.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support of our members," Storey told ESPNcricinfo. "Through their generosity, we were able to retain £300,000 last year. At a time when we declared losses of £217,000 you can see how vital that was."
Kent, like Surrey, are seeking to repay those members by allowing them priority access when spectators are allowed back into the ground in the coming days. Kent host Glamorgan at Canterbury from May 20 with the government allowing just 25 percent capacity as part of the Covid protocols. The match is predicted to be over-subscribed with those who allowed the club to keep their 2020 membership given priority.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo