In 2018, a Central City Breakers defender tries to deke out the Chilliwack FC Attack forward during U16 action at Surrey Mayor’s Cup tournament. (File photo: Trevor Beggs)

‘Shocking decision’: Surrey soccer club won’t offer refunds to teams for cancelled tourney

Registration fees would top $100K for Surrey Mayor’s Cup, called off due to COVID-19

** This story has been updated.

Operators of the Surrey Mayor’s Cup aren’t willing to offer refunds to teams that had signed on to play in this year’s edition of the soccer tournament, and that’s not sitting well with some registrants.

The mid-March tourney was cancelled on short notice due to COVID-19 concerns, impacting teams from across B.C., Alberta, Washington, Oregon and elsewhere.

The event, billed as “B.C.’s premier youth soccer tournament,” is played annually on turf and grass fields across Surrey, and is open to boys and girls teams with players aged six to 17.

The tourney’s host club, Central City Breakers (CCBFC), sent teams a letter saying refunds won’t be available for the cancelled 2020 tournament.

“We regret that we cannot offer refunds given the sudden and Force Majeure nature of cancellation,” says the letter, dated March 25. “Many event organizers are in a similar situation, and are offering to honour fees for a future event. CCBFC will be doing the same and providing no charge registration to the 2021 Mayor’s Cup Tournament for those that registered this year. For teams that are graduated or disbanded, your registration is transferable within your club or to another team.”

The letter adds: “CCBFC is a not-for-profit community soccer club. It is run by volunteers. We do not have the inherent financial capacity or revenue stream to issue refunds.

“We thank all participants for their understanding and look forward to seeing most of you at next year’s tournament.”

• RELATED STORY, from 2015: Surrey youth soccer club red-carded

Tourney registration fees range from $490 to $575 per team, depending on age. With 207 teams registered this year, tourney fees collected would be more than $101,000.

An earlier version of this story reported 350 teams were registered this year, but that number was for a previous year of the annual tournament.

A post on the tournament website (surreymayorscup.com) says “all registrations at Surrey mayors Cup are final. Refunds will only be issued at the discretion of the tournament director.”

At a special meeting on Feb. 11, CCB moved to amalgamate with Surrey Youth Soccer Association.

Surrey Youth Soccer Association held an annual general meeting (AGM) on Sunday (April 5), and the amalgamation was approved, according to Sarb Lidder, club vice-president.

On Twitter, some soccer team reps are angry with the decision by tourney officials to not offer refunds.

A Chilliwack resident, Mike Olson said his daughter’s U18 team would not be back next year.

“Again we are down to a club (CCBFC) that needs to do the right thing,” Olson tweeted from his @Mrolson74 account. “A cancelled tournament requires a refund. Credit for next year with teams not being the same is just a non starter #dobetter.”

Twitter user @BobboOut called it a “shocking decision. Refund the monies, otherwise it’s theft. With 350 teams we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Added @Jessica73586235 in a tweet: “Provide refunds! Our team composition is not the same next year as it is this year. How am I meant to refund those who won’t be with us next year? Out of MY own pocket? Bullshit. #dotherightthing #badbusiness.”

On March 12, just one day before this year’s Surrey Mayor’s Cup was set to start, BC Soccer advised all members and affiliated clubs to not proceed with sanctioned soccer activity where there will be 250 or more people in attendance, and to limit all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

Contacted Friday (April 3), Surrey FC’s Lidder said this year’s tournament had to be cancelled 12 hours before the first game got started. With the amalgamation in the works, Lidder said she got involved on the tournament committee this year for the first time, to help planning for next year.

“It was tough, and everything was changing to much,” she said. “We originally postponed it because we were looking for different dates and to find another solution to have all the games played, but with everything happening we had to make the decision to hold it next year instead, and to honour full registration next year. It wasn’t an easy decision.”

She said tournament organizers face several costs in advance, including trophies, staff, scheduling and other fees, save for referee and field rental costs.

“The credit was the best way to allow people to come back and enjoy the tournament, because this was a no-win situation,” Lidder said. “We couldn’t offer refunds because we did have some costs up-front, and the tournament was not going to get that money back.

“I don’t think a partial refund would have worked,” she added.

“As clubs, a lot of them will be going through this, with spring seasons up in the air, all that. There are going to be a lot of clubs in this situation, other tournaments, but it’s unfortunate for us because we were the first one to go through it with this large tournament. There will be a lot of clubs issuing credits. We’re seeing it everywhere, not just in sports, it’s airlines, vacations.

“We’re not here to gouge anybody or run away with people’s money, the tournament will go on, they’ll get an opportunity, and that tournament credit can be transferred to other teams. We’ll help facilitate all of that. We’re trying to do the best that we can.”

Reached Monday (April 6), BC Soccer president Kjeld Brodsgaard said organizers of the Surrey Mayor’s Cup were “put into a really bad spot” with the timing of postponement due to the COVID-19 announcement.

“I feel for them because I know they put in a lot of time, effort and money into it, with a lot of things paid for already, and it put them in a tough spot,” Brodsgaard said.

“We haven’t had a lot of calls about this, the lack of refunds, but I think what they’ve done with the Surrey Mayor’s Cup in terms of being allowed to give the fee to another team in a club, it’s transferable,” Brodsgaard added. “To some degree I feel for them, because I know it’s a very successful tournament and extremely well run, because of the number of teams that participate, and I can only imagine that people would understand if they knew about the costs already incurred, and how easy it is to transfer fees paid to another team.”

Meantime, organizers of the postponed SX College Showcase, a tournament that was to be played from April 10-12 at South Surrey Athletic Park and also Burnaby Lake West, will issue credits to teams for the rescheduled event, “or another SX Cup Series event, should the new showcase date not work for your team,” managing director Chris Murphy said in a letter to team managers.

“Unfortunately, this is the best we can do at this time,” Murphy, who runs E11even Management, said in the letter.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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