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Geelong Football Club taking legal action over fundraising firm’s ‘misleading’ promotions

Geelong Football Club taking legal action over fundraising firm’s ‘misleading’ promotions
May 24, 2019

The Geelong Football Club has commenced court action against a former fundraising contractor for alleged misleading and deceptive behaviour involving members-only benefits.

As reported by the ABC, during a hearing in the Federal Court of Australia this week, lawyers for the Cats argued that Toorak-based sports fundraising firm Loyalty Pty Ltd was offering club members corporate hospitality products when it should not have.

The products relate to The Pivots club, a members-only experience run by Geelong which includes gourmet dining, premium seats and access to training sessions.

Loyalty was contracted to The Pivots club as part of fundraising campaigns from mid-2015 until early 2016.

According to its website, Loyalty offers its clients scratch-it lotteries, raffles and other products, offering prizes and access to loyalty schemes.

The case centres on a number of complaints by Cats members who thought they were supporting the club through Loyalty - when, in fact, the company no longer had a formal affiliation with the club.

The Cats are pursuing Loyalty.com.au as well as its owner Simon Roach.

A third man, Michael Francis, is said to have contacted members and is also named in the court action.

The Court heard Francis - who was not in attendance - was a contractor, not an employee of Loyalty.

The AFL club argued Loyalty continued to imply association with the club, despite no longer being contracted to offer fundraising services.

The company had created "the impression that they are raising funds for the club," Sarala Fitzgerald, lawyer for the Cats, told the Court.

She added “we submit that the words 'our waiting list' does give the impression that they are related to the Pivots."

The Court heard Loyalty's website was continuing to offer Pivots access until Friday of last week when the court action was filed.

The company has been ordered to stop referring to the club and to The Pivots in any of its marketing, until a further hearing in August.

However, Andrew Panna QC, acting for Loyalty.com.au and Roach, stated “there is no evidence that they have a contractual right to stop us.”

The Court heard about a complaint by one customer who paid between $1,000 and $1,500 to Loyalty Pty Ltd thinking it was affiliated with the club.

She called the club when she did not receive tickets to a home game in April of this year.

Responding to this, Panna added “what she was being offered was quite clear — it was what she got.

"There is no evidence we have misled anybody."

The Pivots is named after the Geelong team's original name, The Pivotonians.

Image: The Geelong Pivots club.

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