Ipswich Town 1st has been pleased to work alongside Norwich City Supporters Trust in expressing our concerns about the timing and policing of matches between our clubs. The following is a joint statement by both supporters’ trusts.
The Supporters’ Trusts at both Norwich City and Ipswich Town welcome the decision to return the derby match to its original date of Saturday, 23rd August; something for which they have both lobbied strongly.
It is hoped that lessons will be learned from the acknowledged failures in the policing at the last Portman Road derby in April 2011 and that supporters of both teams will be able to enjoy the game in safety. Both Trusts would also strongly urge that in future supporters’ groups should be involved earlier in the discussion process to avoid another situation where a unilateral police decision has to be reversed within days.
On 8th May 2014, an FA Commission, led by FA Chairman Greg Dyke, released a report with several proposals aimed at improving the England men’s team.
The Board of ITFC1st are concerned about one particular proposal: that Premier League B sides should be introduced to the Football League/Conference. A new league – “League 3″ – would be established in the 2016-17 season and would initially feature 10 Premier League B teams and 10 from the Conference. Twenty of the 25 players in each B team squad would have to be home-grown and all of them would be from the EU. Nineteen players in each squad would have to be aged under 21.
Like many other individual fans and supporters’ groups, ITFC1st believe that such an unprecedented change to the League structure is likely to have a detrimental effect on lower league and non-league football clubs. The Board are also disappointed that the FA Commission did not discuss this idea with the Conference or take into account the well-expressed views of other key stakeholders, including groups representing supporters such as Supporters Direct and the Football Supporters’ Federation.
Supporters Direct’s have said: ‘The introduction of Feeder Clubs or B-teams will serve to reinforce the system of player development that currently results in the stockpiling of talent. We have a depth in our professional football system that should mean we have the deepest talent pool coming through but it isn’t happening. That is not because we don’t have feeder clubs for the top clubs, it’s because the coaching and infrastructure is not right. This can only be changed with a strategic game-wide approach, overseen by the game’s governing body.’
A group called Against League 3 (@AgainstLeague3 on Twitter) has organised an online petition and earlier today announced that they already had enough signatories to fill Portman Road. If you haven’t signed it yet, and you would like to “say no to B teams,” please do so now.
Several campaigns against this proposal are being organised. We will try to keep you informed of them and urge anyone concerned about this possible development to join in.
The sporting integrity of our lower leagues, and the English pyramid, is something quite unique in world football: we think this is among the things that is fundamentally threatened by these proposals.
Supporters’ Trust survey highlights why supporters are deserting Portman Road – and what the club needs to do to get them back. You can read the full report here:
As Ipswich Town bring down the curtain on another Championship season, the full results of a survey conducted by Ipswich Town 1st, the independent Ipswich Town Supporters’ Trust, show what the club needs to do to bring the missing thousands back to Portman Road.
Town have yet to announce matchday ticket prices for the new campaign, but the results of the Ipswich Town 1st survey, attached, show that cost is a major factor in putting people off from attending Portman Road. Ipswich Town 1st today asks the Club to consider this carefully when working out how much to charge for matchday tickets in 2014/15.
The survey also shows that fans have a strong sense of community in their support of Ipswich Town, but feel that this is not always shared by the club. One respondent, quoted on p19 of the report, asked “Can we please go back to being a family club? Is the owner ashamed to be known because of the Club’s attitude towards supporters?”.
Many comments from supporters also back up Ipswich Town 1st’s view that a long term strategy is needed to bring fans back to Portman Road. This survey reflects evidence from across professional football, that young adults are being priced out of regular attendance: but the Club needs to look at everything it does, across all age ranges, if it is going to bring large crowds flocking back to Portman Road. The decline in ticket sales cannot be fixed overnight. This has been the subject of discussion between the Trust and the Club at recent Fans Forum meetings.
Alasdair Ross, chair of Ipswich Town 1st said “This survey confirms the strength of the loyalty that fans have towards their Club, but also contains important lessons that the Club needs to learn. The survey describes people ‘drifting away’ from Portman Road, put off by seasons of mediocrity and an apparently ambivalent attitude from the Club towards supporters”
“In a season with two local derbies to look forward to, the Club need to reward the loyalty of those fans by making sure that matchday ticket prices are closer to what supporters consider to be a ‘fair’ price, as well as making more efforts to engage with the local community.
“We’ve been pleased to discuss our findings with the Club at recent Fans Forum meetings, and are encouraged that some of the points made by supporters have been responded to – such as the introduction of student discounts for season tickets. We hope that this full report is useful to ITFC in making plans for next season which will bring back those who have grown disillusioned over recent years”.
The Supporters’ Trust welcomes ITFC’s statement today allowing fans a short extension on the deadline for opting out of making an enforced donation to the Club’s Academy. Anyone renewing their season ticket by Direct Debit now has until 1st May 2014 to inform them that they want to opt out of the scheme.
The Club also made a brief apology because “fans were not aware from our season ticket literature that the Academy pledge was an opt-out scheme until payment schedules were sent out.” The ITFC statement can be read on the TWTD website here.
The Trust is disappointed, however, that ITFC has not – at the time of writing – responded to our published statements and correspondence and, in particular, to our request that the Club reconsiders its decision to ask supporters to opt out. We also understand that some fans who have contacted ITFC about this matter individually have not received any response. It appears that the Club is unwilling to change its mind on this. We remain concerned that some people may still be unaware that they have to opt out of the payment, particularly those fans without access to the internet who may well be least able to afford the extra charge.
We are asking supporters to contact us if they have any problems relating to this matter. In particular, we would like to know if the extra money has been taken from their bank accounts after opting out, if any supporters have effectively paid twice because they are already donors to the Academy or if anyone under the age of 18 (or someone paying by DD on behalf of a young person) has had a “donation” taken in this way.
The Club says “season ticket holders on the direct debit scheme can opt out by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0844 8011555 before the new May 1st deadline. Town will then send out a new payment schedule confirming the change.” [Please note that 0844 calls are charged between 1p and 13p per minute for landline & from mobile phones are typically charged between 20p and 41p per minute, depending on the provider and the number called. Source: Ofcom. ]
The Club have said that they’ve written to everyone who hasn’t opted out of the scheme informing them of the deadline extension. However some fans who had already opted out have also received these letters, causing confusion over whether or not their original opt-out request had been acted on. We are asking the Club to clarify the situation for these supporters as soon as possible.
We suggest that any fan contacting the club by these methods keeps a record that they have informed ITFC that they wish to opt out. It may be sensible to also confirm it in writing and send that confirmation by Recorded Delivery.
Some fans may wish to contact ITFC about this issue themselves. Before doing so, it may be useful to take advice from a consumer organization or the Citizens Advice Bureau. CAB’s website www.adviceguide.org.uk is a very useful source of information and includes sample letters that might be helpful.
One supporter who contacted CAB’s Consumer Service has received the following advice: “When you purchase a service you enter into a legally binding contract with terms and conditions that you are deemed to have read and agreed to. As regards any changes to the contract that was not agreed at the point of sale the trader should always inform you in good time of this change and give you the option to accept it or not.”
We urge the Club to reconsider its position on requiring supporters to opt out of making a “donation” to the Academy in keeping with ITFC’s traditions of fairness and to maintain what has long been an amicable relationship with its fans. It is still not too late for a change of heart.
Other useful contact information
Ipswich CAB: http://www.ipswichcab.org/
Citizens Advice Consumer Service: Tel: 08454 04 05 06 or Web: www.adviceguide.org.uk
Suffolk Trading Standards:
Further to the statement which we sent to ITFC yesterday, Ipswich Town 1st explicitly calls on the club to cancel any automatic payments to the Academy Friend scheme which have been made as part of the automatic renewal of season tickets.
The statement that the club have released via TWTD states that there was a printing error that meant an ‘opt-in’ tick box was erroneously included on the form sent to Season Ticket holders that took advantage of the automatic renewal by Direct Debit system.
Even if this is the case, the corresponding literature does not make any mention of this being something that will be applied automatically. There is no text in either the covering letter or the season ticket brochure that mentions anyone will be automatically opted in to this scheme.
There are a number of mentions of the Direct Debit scheme, and they are always followed by an instruction that the Season Ticket holder need not do anything to continue their membership – when the reality is that if fans did nothing their DD will have increased by £120.
We have already had complaints from some of our members, these include those who are unable to afford the extra £120, a family of 4 where even their children are being charged the £120 and supporters who already are ‘Academy Friends’ who are now going to be double charged unless they opt out – this doesn’t even include the numerous fans that are extremely angry with what can only be described as a ‘stealth tax’ being applied.
We believe the club have no option but to cancel this scheme and revert to the opt-in scheme which is implied in the literature.
ITFC 1st has become aware that season ticket holders whose renewals have been processed automatically by the Club, are having the £120 Academy Friend charge automatically added to their Direct Debits.
We urge all members to check the amounts that the Club are planning to deduct via Direct Debit, either by logging into ITFC Direct and looking under “Purchase History”, by contacting the ticket office on 0844 801 1555, or by looking carefully at the letter, giving payment schedules, which we understand is being sent out to season ticket holders soon.
At the time of writing we have not been able to get an official statement or response from the Club and the Supporter Liaison Officer is currently away. The club have advised via their official Twitter feed that there is an ‘opt-out’ option from the Academy Friend donation which involves emailing the ticket office on email@example.com.
ITFC 1st has received feedback from a number of members who are unhappy about the automatic addition of Academy Friend donations, given that many supporters are already having to stretch themselves financially to afford a season ticket. An automatic £120 addition to this cost could cause significant problems for those already on a tight budget, and the Trust’s view is that this is a poorly-judged move by ITFC which will not inspire goodwill from supporters towards the Club or the Academy.
Quite apart from ethical considerations, we are seeking advice on the legality of this move, and will be taking this issue up with the Club at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime we urge members to be vigilant about checking their Direct Debit schedules from ITFC, to respond to the Club promptly and appropriately, and to contact us directly with any views on this development which you would like us to convey to the Club.
The Trust believes that this is totally unacceptable and it will be putting pressure on the club to ensure that only fans who have specifically opted in to this payment scheme are charged the extra £120 – rather than putting the onus on the season ticket holder to cancel it.
We’ve received the following request from a student conducting a survey on ticket prices. Please help if you can.
As part of my final project for my university degree course I’m researching football ticket pricing. I’m trying to get views from as many football fans as possible from as many different British clubs as possible. Could you post the link to my survey on your forum please?
We have had a really good response from other supporters clubs and are keen to get the views of your members too.
If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me
Thanks for your help!
The BBC’s regional football show, Late Kick Off have asked Ipswich Town 1st, the independent supporters’ trust, to help them find ITFC fans who sit in the lower Sir Bobby Robson (North) stand for a feature about safe standing.
They’re looking for two fans who are in favour of safe standing and also want to talk to fans who are against it (who can be from any part of the ground).
The BBC will be filming outside Portman Road on Saturday lunchtime before the match against Birmingham City.
If you’re interested in speaking about this important issue for a few minutes, please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org
A new survey of Ipswich Town supporters has revealed that the club are at risk of missing out on the next generation of supporters due to high matchday ticket prices.
The survey, carried out by Ipswich Town 1st, the Independent Supporters’ Trust, reveals that the cost of a day out at Portman Road is what puts most people off going – particularly those under the age of 30.
Some 600 Town fans completed the survey and it was clear that matchday ticket prices are the big issue for the club’s supporters. Almost half the respondents said that “high matchday ticket prices” were a very important factor in putting them off going to Portman Road. The survey asked supporters to say what they thought was a fair price for admission to the ground – the overwhelming majority said £25 or under, a figure considerably less than the cost of most tickets currently available.
Town fans are also concerned at the high prices charged to away fans, with 90% rating the £32.50 charge as “poor” or “very poor”.
But there was praise for the club’s season ticket prices. 75% of season ticket holders believe they pay a “fair price” for their seat.
Alasdair Ross, chair of Ipswich Town 1st, said: “This survey highlights what the club needs to do to make sure that the next generation of supporters get into the habit of spending their Saturday afternoons at Portman Road. Lower prices, more offers and promotions, and making it as easy as possible to get tickets, are all factors which will attract younger fans. We were pleased to discuss these results with the club at a recent Fans’ Forum, and look forward to working with the Club further in identifying what should be done in response to the findings”.
The full results will be released to members and the media in the next few weeks.
Summary of main findings:
- When asked ‘does anything put you off going to Portman Road?’, from ten options given, the factors most commonly identified as ‘very important’ were ‘ticket prices’ (45%) and ‘overall cost of the day out’ (36%).
- Amongst those aged 30 and under, over 50% said that ticket prices were ‘very important’ in putting them off going to Portman Road
- 34% of fans said that ‘difficult to buy tickets’ was a ‘very important’ or ‘quite important’ factor in deterring them from attending ITFC
- 42% of people thought £16-£20 was a fair price to watch a Championship match at Portman Road, 39% thought £21-£25
- 90% of over 500 respondents thought that it was ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’ that ‘Away Fans’ were charged ticket prices of £32.50
- 75% of season ticket holders think their season ticket is a fair price
- Respondents were asked ‘please rate how these do or could influence your purchase of tickets at Ipswich’ and the three most popular answers were: ‘ten pound cup matches’ (55%) ‘kids for a quid’ (44%) and ‘bring a friend for a fiver’ (38%)
- 33% of respondents thought that ‘the ease of getting ticket information’ this season had been ‘poor or very poor’. 43% of respondents answered ‘poor or very poor’ to the question ‘how easy has it been to buy a ticket on a match day?’
- When asked ‘how significant has the closure of the ITFC ticket office and telephone sales system been for you during the last six months’, 26% answered ‘very important’ although 30% said it ‘does not matter’
- Respondents were asked about ‘ITFC’s overall attempts to draw bigger crowds’. 79% thought they were ‘very poor’ or ‘poor’, 17% thought they were ‘acceptable’ and only 4% thought they were ‘good or excellent’
The Ipswich Town independent supporters’ trust, Ipswich Town 1st would like to express its unequivocal support for the fans of Hull City AFC who are campaigning to prevent their club’s owner from changing its name to Hull Tigers.
We urge the FA to recognise the history and traditions of Hull City AFC as well as to ensure that the consultation process on this issue is meaningful, democratic and respects the wishes of the club’s supporters.