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.
Following lots of discussion and controversy throughout the 2013/14 season over ticket pricing, ticket sales and other aspects of the club’s relationship with its supporters, Ipswich Town 1st has launched a survey of Town supporters to find out more about fans’ concerns.
The survey, which can be found here, covers a variety of issues, including the range and prices of tickets available, the quality of catering and other elements of the matchday experience, and ITFC’s attempts to raise attendances. The survey is open to all Ipswich Town fans, whether or not they are members of Ipswich Town 1st.
Alasdair Ross, chair of Ipswich Town 1st, said “Several of our members have raised concerns with us this season about how easy – or not – it is to buy tickets at Portman Road, and how expensive those tickets appear to be. We wanted to get supporters’ views on these and other issues, so that we can raise them with the club in our role as a Supporters’ Trust”.
“We’ve had several hundred responses within the first few hours of the survey being open. We hope to get a lot more so that we can build a really useful picture of how Town fans are feeling at the moment”.
The survey is open until 31st January, and all respondents will be entered into a draw to win a free copy of Ipswich ‘Til I Die, a book by and about Ipswich Town supporters.
Ipswich Town 1st, the independent Supporters’ Trust, was concerned to read press reports about the nature of the club’s debts, and today calls on ITFC to make a public statement on the amount of money overdue to local businesses and service providers.
Trust Chair Alasdair Ross said ‘Many local people have bitter memories about the amount of money owed to local businesses such as florists and caterers, and organisations including the St. John’s Ambulance, when the club went into administration in 2003. For an organisation already carrying over £80m worth of debt, relatively small amounts owed to local businesses may seem inconsequential, but for many of these local businesses it could mean the difference between survival or collapse. The local community, including those who lost money, stood by the club during the administration period, and we want to know that this faith is being rewarded by the club honouring its debts to local businesses now’.
21/11/2013: We have received a reply from the club, but not an answer to our questions (see below). The club has agreed to add them to the agenda for the Fans’ Forum on Saturday, which will be attended by a representative of the Supporters’ Trust.
The Supporters’ Trust was not satisfied with the explanation the club has given supporters over the split with the Charitable Trust (now Suffolk Inspire), so we asked the club for further clarification. This morning we sent the Club’s Supporter Liaison Officer, Sally Webb, the following questions:
As you may have seen, the Independent Supporters’ Trust posed a couple of questions in our earlier press release, which don’t appear to be answered by your article. We would be grateful if you or a colleague could respond to the specific questions that we raised, namely:
1. What are the Football Club’s future plans for community activities and community engagement?
2. What are the Football Club’s plans for the premises on the practice pitch that have been vacated by the Charitable Trust?
To clarify the first of these questions: by ‘community activities’ we are referring to a wider range of activities than those described in today’s statement from the Club. The “invitation-only Advanced Coaching Programme” will not encompass the range of coaching programmes previously run by the Charitable Trust under the ITFC banner, which included multi-sports sessions and activities for disabled youngsters.
The Community Trust’s work also encompassed a wide range of activities for both girls and boys, and we would be grateful if you could further clarify whether the Football Club’s “invitation-only Advanced Coaching Programme” will include opportunities for girls as well as boys.
We look forward to hearing the Club’s answers to these important questions.