TEG Live has agreed to refund over Aus$5m (£2.5m/€2.8m/$3.1m) to around 5,000 fans who bought approximately 20,000 tickets for last August’s basketball games between Australia and the USA at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium.

TEG Live promoted three games in Australia involving the USA, with two games held at Marvel Stadium on August 22 and August 24, and a further fixture held at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on August 26. It marked the first time that Marvel Stadium had been used as a basketball venue.

A number of fans complained after the USA team did not feature top stars such as Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis and Paul George, who withdrew through injury. Further complaints were made by fans who claimed they were left unsighted due to a poorly thought out seating plan at Marvel Stadium.

More than 50,000 fans attended each game and TEG Live has today (Tuesday) announced that it will refund a number of these supporters following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

TEG Live said in a statement that it had expected some of the USA’s star players to feature in the games, based on information it received from USA Basketball. The company pointed to the “complex issue” of team selection within the sport, with teams or federations having control rather than the promoter of the event.

TEG Live said: “The level of player withdrawals was unforeseen by both TEG Live and USA Basketball, and USA Basketball has formally acknowledged to TEG Live that it was ‘unexpected and disappointing’, unlike anything they had previously experienced.

“TEG Live’s use of names and images of high-profile players in our marketing was always approved by USA Basketball based on its knowledge at that time. As soon as USA Basketball confirmed that a player was no longer available, we moved quickly to update our marketing materials.

“It is the nature of team sport that the player group can change over time. While we always believed we had a reasonable basis to expect that these players would be participating, we acknowledge the concern of the ACCC that a number of players that were included in our marketing materials did not ultimately play in the games.

“We have therefore agreed with the ACCC that going forward, additional warnings will be made to consumers to ensure that they are aware of that risk before they purchase tickets to future international sporting events that we promote. As agreed with the ACCC, we will also refund customers who purchased tickets after 15 August 2018, did not attend the game and made a refund request prior to the relevant game on the basis that the USA players referred to in TEG Live’s marketing did not participate.”

When promoting the games, TEG Live used a picture of an American basketball stadium depicting floor-level seats as tiered. The seats at the Marvel Stadium games were not tiered, leaving many fans with obstructed views.

A spokesperson for TEG Live added: “As this was the first time a basketball game has ever been staged in a football stadium in Australia, we created this background image. Ultimately that mock-up did not reflect the actual seating arrangements.

“This was a mistake on our part and, accordingly, we will be contacting all customers who purchased ‘floor’ tickets to the Melbourne games from 18 June 2018 and will offer them a full refund of the purchase price of their ticket. We have also agreed with the ACCC to include prominent disclosures to our customers regarding the nature of seating for all future events.”

ACCC chair Rod Sims said that TEG Live’s conduct was “unacceptable”, adding that the ACCC is pleased that around 5,000 fans will receive automatic refunds before the end of July.

Image: Leanne Willis (Twitter)