More than 2,000 people have signed a petition urging organisers of the cancelled Vélo Birmingham & Midlands closed road sportive to refund their money, with the event’s owners accused of “profiteering.” Entrants to sister event Vélo Essex have also expressed anger at being offered less than half their entry fee as a refund after that event was called off six months before its inaugural edition was due to take place in September.
Hosted on Change.org, the petition relating to Vélo Birmingham & Midlands, which was due to take place on 21 June but was called off last month, points out that no refunds were offered to disappointed entrants, some of whom would have paid more than £100 to take part in the event.
The petition, posted by James Maric, says: “It looks like they are profiteering from this pandemic and they are running with our hard earned money. They either refund our money or have all that signed up for this year be registered for next year's event, not EVERYONE has the luxury to have £100+ disappear on such thing excluding accommodation.”
It is addressed to the event’s owner, Active Sports & Entertainment Ltd, which according to publicly available information at Companies House has been controlled since 9 August last year by Richard Relton, who is now the sole director of the company.
Relton, who was originally appointed as a director of the business on 1 May 2017, when it traded as CSM Active Ltd, and was controlled by CSM Sport & Entertainment Ltd, is listed as now holding or controlling at least 75 per cent of the shares and voting rights in the company.
Filings at Companies House show that it changed its name from CSM Active Ltd to Active Sports & Entertainment Ltd on 27 November last year.
A number of road.cc readers contacted us following the cancellation of Vélo Birmingham & Midlands regarding the lack of refunds, with one common complaint being that some costs of the event would not have been incurred yet, while some pointed out that charges for a priority start time, for example, would not result in a significant cost to the event.
One reader who contacted us last week said: “Just had notice Vélo Birmingham has been cancelled and there are no refunds.”
Describing the situation as “quite ridiculous,” he continued: “They can’t tell all those riders all the costs are already sunk. They can’t say they had no profit in the entry fee.
“More crucially I paid extra for an early start in one of the front start pens. That additional fee must be 100 per cent profit for them.”
The reader, who said he had tried to contact organisers including by email but had received no response, said the situation was “Outrageous, particularly as the Prime Minister has said no event should be uninsurable.”
While entrants to Vélo Essex have been told they will get a 45 per cent refund, there has been widespread anger about the fact that people are not getting all their money back, as well as the fact that one of the reasons given by organisers for the cancellation was that entry sales had been slow.
One reader said: “The organisers could instead have kept all the money by postponing to 2021 like the Tour of Cambridge.
“Or they could have done the decent thing and refunded an event that only went on sale on 27 February – one month ago; have they really spent 2/3rds of the entry fee already?”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.