The Ipswich Town Supporters Trust has been soliciting the views of its members and the wider supporter base including circulating a petition to encourage the Football Club to opt for Category 1 status in the Elite Player Performance Plan. We believe Ipswich Town should go for the highest category for the following key reasons;
It is a financially sound business decision
- Yes it is potentially a large financial commitment but one supporters would prefer us to commit to rather than expensive contracts for ageing players
- Over the last fifteen years sales of Academy players have raised over £35m (Fees as publicly reported*)
The long term traditions of Ipswich Town for developing their own talent over many years
- Ever since Jackie Milburn started the youth set up in the early sixties young players have proved the backbone of the club, Mick Mills, Trevor Whymark, John Wark, George Burley, Mick Stockwell and many more, not forgetting one considered the greatest of them all in Kevin Beattie.
The Supporters have a long term affinity with young players coming through the system
- Even ex Academy graduates recognise the value of the youth team, witness the support given to the Academy by Jason Dozzell and Kieron Dyer.
*Selection of sales of Academy Players (where the figure was undisclosed, press reports have been used)
Kieron Dyer – £7,000,000
Richard Wright – £6,000,000
James Scowcroft – £3,000,000
Titus Bramble – £4,500,000
Darren Ambrose – £1,000,000 (forced sale by Administrators)
Darren Bent – £2.5m rising to £5.7m
Ian Westlake – £400,000 plus Dan Harding
Lewis Price – £200,000
Danny Haynes – £530,000
Owen Garvan – £250,000
Jordan Rhodes – £850,000 plus further bonuses
Connor Wickham – £8,100.000 rising towards £12m
The Supporters Trust recently engaged in a dialogue with Simon Clegg, Chief Executive of Ipswich Town and the following is a recap of that dialogue. We did seek confirmation from Simon that he was okay with us sharing this dialogue with a wider audience and he was.
Email from the Trust to the Football Club
We have tried to engage you on a number of time, but you seem to feel that the supporters Club are the only representatives of the wider supporters, which they are not.
It is interesting how the media engage us for views of the wider supporters but the club doesn’t, unlike your predecessor Derek Bowden, who held regular meetings with us and other groups, ensuring the club had a better understanding of supporter views.
I understand you have to follow the owner’s position on such matters, but what both you and Mr Evans needs to understand is that Ipswich Town football club and especially the Ipswich Town Academy are extremely important to supporters.
The history of the club has been built on the fabric of the academy and its future lies within it, so by even considering any other option other then cat 1 Status shows the lack of understanding that both you and the owner have.
Although on paper Mr Evans is the majority owner of the business that is Ipswich Town Football Club, its true moral ownership is within the wider community.
We as supporters will be here long after all the players, managers, CEO’s and owners have been and gone.
Carl, Chairman, Ipswich Town IST
Email response from the Football Club
I’m sorry but unless you have sat through the lengthy meetings and waded through the 300+ pages of documentation, like I have you can’t make a simplistic judgement that it is in the Club’s best interests to go for Academy Category 1 status.
The owner and I have to look after the best long term interests of this Club and it would be foolhardy to announce that we are going for Category 1 until we have all the facts, which we certainly don’t at this present time. Furthermore it would be irresponsible to announce that we are going for Category 1 status if such a decision were to take us back into administration and this is something I am not prepared to do.
I fully appreciate the importance of getting this decision right for the football club and when a decision has been made we will tell people what it is and explain why we have reached that position. Until then I will not commit myself because as yet we do not have all the relevant facts.
Thank you for your patience and support.
Simon Clegg CBE
Ipswich Town Football Club
Follow up Email from the Trust to the Football Club
Thank you for your response.
At least it appears we both share the best interests of the club.
I don’t wish to be disrespectful but my association with ITFC is some 35 years longer than yours or Mr Evans. You both need to understand the club has been built on the foundations of developing the youth.
Taking into account the requirements for salary capping which is around the corner the need to fill the squad with quality young players mixed in with the so called star players is going to be more important.
Financially the academy pays for itself plus some, so there is no logical argument against those facts either.
Finally, I can only point out how important the academy means to the supporters, your customers as we seem to be described as.
As a businessman myself I understand the needs and requirements of my customers and to ignore this fact is business suicide.
I invite both you and the owner attend a public meeting so we all can debate the issue and it will give you a true insight to the supporter views on this subject, rather than just thinking the supporter club is the only voice of the supporters?
You are going to expect the supporters to renew season tickets soon and the club in my opinion has lost touch with the supporters and the potential backlash can only further damage our great club.
Just remember, players, managers, CEO’s and owners of ITFC come and go, the one constant at the club will always be the supporters.
I hope you will accept our invitation to discuss this issue with supporters and wait your response accordingly
Ipswich Town IST
And the latest response from the Football Club
Thank you but I can’t enter a protracted exchange on this issue particularly with what other issues I’m trying to focus on at the moment.
Whilst I respect your long association with the Club both Marcus and I fully appreciate the benefits of having a quality Academy and will make the decision that we believe is in the best interests of the Club.
I’m not sure why you think salary capping is just round the corner, it isn’t and has hardly ever been discussed amongst Championship clubs.
You say that the Academy pays for itself and then some. You cannot know this without in depth analysis of the Club’s accounts over many years, something I have done as part of my research into how we should approach this matter. If you are saying that there are no logical arguments against those facts why aren’t all 92 clubs or at least every current Academy aspiring for Category 1 status – they’re not because they’ve undertaken a cost benefit analysis of the information provided which continues to be presently incomplete.
As a businessman you will appreciate that you need all the facts before you can make a decision. You can make an informed decision if you’re forced into a decision before you have all the facts but it is foolhardy to make a decision before you have all the facts if you don’t need to.
I’m afraid that I won’t attend an open discussion on this matter but will continue to absorb the information which is being drip fed to all Championship clubs who might aspire to Category 1 status, make a decision when we have to and then communicate that decision and the reasons behind it to the fan base through the Official Supporters Club.
The Club relies on the independent voice of the Supporters Club who are a democratic and independent body and that’s why I spend so much time meeting with them, listening to them and sounding them out.
Whilst I accept that supporters provide the continuity to any Club others have to provide the leadership under the direction of the owner and unlike supporters they never have the benefit of hindsight!
Simon Clegg CBE
Ipswich Town Football Club