Important Questions From The Trust To The Club

Ipswich Town 1st has been trying to provide a voice for Ipswich Town Supporters since the dark days of Administration, we have been somewhat quiet since the Marcus Evans group became involved finding it difficult to establish a dialogue with the Club. Like most supporters we are extremely concerned about the direction events are taking at Portman Road. Performances on the pitch have generally been dreadful and last Monday’s performance was the nadir, but events off the pitch are also very worrying and we have a number of questions that we would like to have addressed.
We want answers to the following questions on seven key areas of concern:

FINANCES
We believe the club are over £60million in debt, and all but £2million of this is owned to Marcus Evans Group. Are there any plans to address the debt?

Just how is the debt structured?

How exposed are the club, should Marcus Evans decide to walk away or cease supporting the current expenditure?

Can Marcus Evans afford to walk away, even if he wanted to?

The debt inherited by the club – referred to as the “Internal interest-bearing debt” in the Ipswich Town plc accounts – had conditions attached to them when Marcus Evans purchased the club, in that it could not be repaid to Marcus Evans until the club had spent five consecutive seasons in the Premier League. Would Marcus Evans insist on the same conditions if the debt still existed when the time came for him to sell the club?

ACADEMY
Since the club’s comments before the Christmas period, where Simon Clegg openly questioned whether or not the club should adopt Category One status under the Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan – is the club any nearer to deciding which category it will adopt, and why are the decision makers considering anything but the best for an Academy?

The Ipswich Academy has not only one of the best reputations in the country, but also one that the club has often had to rely on selling the products of, in order to survive. Since we established the Academy we have raised well over £25m from sales of players more than paying for itself with the sales of players like Kieron Dyer, Titus Bramble, Richard Wright, Darren Bent and most recently Connor Wickham, but even players like Ian Westlake accrued £600,000.

The majority of fans would prefer to spend the extra required on the Academy, rather than on transfers and wages.

DISENFRANCHISEMENT OF SUPPORTERS
Ex player Shane Supple recently expressed the view that “[Marcus] Evans’ money might have saved the club financially but the day he came in a part of ITFC died. The heart was ripped from the club, budgets were cut, the academy suffered most from this”?

How is this possible, despite the increase in the club’s debt from around £30million to over £60million in that time?

Many Ipswich supporters are proud of their history and the way the club has been runbut are now feeling disenfranchised from the club they love.

RELATIONSHIP WITH IPSWICH BOROUGH COUNCIL
Why are the club expecting to be treated differently from other businesses in asking Ipswich Borough Council to waive back rent?

With many individuals and organisations struggling in the Town in the current economic environment we believe the club should pay whats due. A rental of £111,000 a year is far from excessive when you consider the excessive wahes that are being paid to ageing players. This is another example of demeaning the reputation of the club.

SALARY CAP
The Football League is introducing a salary cap in the Championship – one already operates in Leagues One and Two – as of next season. What plans have the club made – if any – to meet the restrictions in place for next season?

BUYING THE FREEHOLD OF THE GROUND
Are the club still interested in buying the freehold of Portman Road? And can they see the alarm this has caused supporters who have seen other club’s financial difficulties begin because asset strippers have bought clubs with the sole intention of making a personal profit from the sale of the ground?

Even under the stewardship of the previous chairman we understand the club was interested in moving to a new out of town ground.

ATTENDANCES AND TICKET PRICING
Attendances are falling as the quality of “product” on offer falls and yet we have some of the most expensive ticket prices for matchday outside the Premiership, why is that?

The cheapest adult seat in the ground on Monday for the game was £29 in the Sir Bobby Robson Lower, astonishingly we noticed that the price upstairs for that game was £36.50 on the gate – frankly that is a joke to see one of the few clubs further down the league than us.

RELEGATION
What thought has been given to the club being relegated to League One?

What are the financial implications for the club?

What plans are in place for season ticket and match day pricing should the Club be relegated – would the Club expect/need to hold prices at their current level’?

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