The Save Our Seats (SOS) campaign 

 

Since the first meeting, Save Our Seats has organised one of the most effective and widely supported protests ever seen at a top-level football match, at the only home game held within the period set for replies, against Derby County on Monday, October 25th.
The campaign called for a boycott of club merchandise; for supporters not to wear the customary ‘uniform’ of replica shirts; and for a stand-up protest for the opening phases of the game.
All three aspects of the protest were almost universally observed, in what even the club was forced to describe as a “dignified protest”.
The failure of the club to reconsider, despite such a clear rejection of their plans, has led the Save Our Seats campaign to conclude that while we will continue with match-day protests and a boycott of club merchandise, we have no alternative but to prepare legal action. The lawyers of Save Our Seats have engaged the services of McConnicks, a firm of specialist sports lawyers in the North of England.
The firm act for, among others, Leeds United FC, and their Senior Partner, Peter McCormick, is a member of the FA Legal Working Party.
The partner who has conduct of Save Our Seats’ affairs is Richard Cramer, an acknowledged leader in sports law in this country. Advice has been taken from a Queen’s Counsel, and the lawyers are of the opinion that the bondholders have a good legal case with every chance of success in court. Richard Cramer can be contacted c/o McCornticks. The legal case Cormicks are acting on behalf of four bondholders who have come together to bring this case.
It is however not intended to be an action merely on behalf of these four individuals, but a representative action on behalf of all bondholders. Save Our Seats are seeking therefore to maximise the number of bondholders who will put their names forward as supporters of this action, in order to develop its collective, representative character. This will not involve any risk on the part of these supporting individuals, other than an indication of willingness to accept the ruling of the court.
Supporting the action in this way is not either limited to affected bondholders; since the action is in defence of the rights of bondholders in general, it is open to any bondholder to support the action. Clearly, the legal action concerns matters pertaining to the contractual arrangements of the bond, and is open therefore only to bondholders.
The Save Our Seats campaign is equally concerned about the forced relocation of other season ticket holders, but believes that this legal action, if successful, will also benefit non-bondholders by rendering the plans for the new corporate areas unviable.
The legal challenge is based on the questions over the enforceability of the terms and conditions of the bond scheme, and the application of an implied term that if Newcastle United do move any bondholder, it should be to a seat of an equivalent standard.
It is the belief of the Save Our Seats group that there would be enormous difficulties in providing a seat of an equivalent standard. Although 4,000 fans have been affected for the 2000 season, there is obvious alarm that once Newcastle United prove they can move people as they see fit, the precedent will have been created to move any of the remaining 8,000 or 10,000 bondholders for any excuse, whether related to providing corporate facilities or not.
Attempts have been made to negotiate with the club to avoid the necessity of legal action. Newcastle United has however refused to accept a moratorium on the changes to allow time for these conflicts to be resolved.
Support The Save Our Seats campaign has received wide and overwhelmingly supportive media coverage, both regionally and nationally.

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