Ipswich: Controversial season ticket renewal scheme at Portman Road must be scrapped – Ipswich Town 1st Supporters’ Trust
PUBLISHED: 19:31 04 April 2014 | UPDATED: 19:37 04 April 2014
Ipswich Town chiefs face fresh pressure to scrap a controversial season ticket renewal scheme which could have left large numbers of fans more than £100 out of pocket.
The club said it will learn from their mistakes after a “printing error” on season ticket renewal forms may have resulted in fans unwittingly signing up to pay £10-per-month extra towards the club academy.
Ticket holders can still opt out of the extra payment, but fans have raised concerns over how the matter had been handled – with one describing it as a “PR own goal”.
Renewals for season ticket holders paying by direct debit are being processed automatically by the club for the first time this year.
These fans are also being automatically opted in to the ITFC Academy Association Ramsey Friend contribution of £10 per month over a period of 12 months, with the club aiming for top-level academy status.
If Town win promotion next season, those who sign up will get a free Premier League season ticket for 2015/16.
The offer was advertised with an application form in a season ticket brochure sent out around a week ago.
But the club said it made a printing error which suggested that supporters wishing to sign up needed to tick a box, which should not have appeared on the direct debit renewal form.
It did correctly appear on non-season ticket holder application forms.
When the direct debit payment schedule was sent out, it was highlighted twice that supporters had to opt out of the offer.
Supporters have until April 17 to cancel. The first payment is due on May 1.
But tonight, the independent Ipswich Town 1st Supporters’ Trust said: “We believe the club has no option but to cancel this scheme and revert to the opt-in scheme which is implied in the literature.
“The statement (from) the club states 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 direct debit will have increased by £120.”
The trust said it has received complaints from fans that are “extremely angry”, including a family-of-four where “even their children are being charged the £120”.
An Ipswich Town spokesman said the season ticket policy will not be changed this season.
He said: “Obviously we will look at the process and learn from the mistakes that have been made in the communication to supporters but it takes 30 seconds for fans to opt out of the Academy Friends donation and many (did that on Friday).”