With the friendly match between a BNI Indonesia All-Stars side and English Premier League club Chelsea looming large, state-owned bank Bank Negara Indonesia has been forced to refund fans who had paid for pre-match events, including a meet and greet with the Chelsea players.
BNI Consumer and Retail Banking director Darmadi Sutanto said in a statement that BNI has requested fans who bought tickets to attend the three pre-match events: the meet and greet, jersey signing, and a coaching clinic, to apply for a refund.
He went on to say BNI had followed standard procedures by charging for these events when foreign teams visit Indonesia, but understood Chelsea’s desire for a different approach.
“However, we want to respect Chelsea’s philosophy on their preseason tour ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay’ so both BNI and the promoters have agreed to waive the charges and refund fans who had previously purchased tickets for the extra events,” Darmadi said.
Chelsea had earlier announced they would refund the fans who paid £1,500 ($2,300) for the meet-and-greet with the players and £330 for a charity coaching clinic.
“We were made aware that a number of people were being charged a fee for access to certain non-match day events during our stay in Jakarta,” a Chelsea spokesman said in the statement.
“While we understand this is accepted practice in Indonesia, it does not fit with our tour philosophy of ‘Here to Play, Here to Stay’ which works towards leaving a lasting legacy in countries and communities we visit.
‘‘Therefore, anyone who bought a ticket for one of these events will be refunded, and granted free access.”
The club added that the events, including the meet-and-greet and coaching clinic, have to be ticketed due to the high demand and fans in Thailand and Malaysia, who attended similar events, had not been charged.
The refund process began last Thursday and BNI announced there had been 73 refunds by Saturday.
“The pre-match events are basically for the public but BNI will prioritize
customers and Chelsea fans,” Darmadi added.
Chelsea beat a Thai All Star team 1-0 in Bangkok before defeating a Malaysian XI by 4-1 in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Neither Arsenal nor Liverpool charged supporters for similar events while they were in Jakarta.