Cash-strapped club sells off its pitch

By Jonathan BarnesNEVER mind star players or season tickets, parts of the pitch are now being sold off by cash-strapped Ipswich Town.The crisis-hit club, currently in administration, is running an internet auction for supporters to bid for the Portman Road turf.

By Jonathan Barnes

NEVER mind star players or season tickets, parts of the pitch are now being sold off by cash-strapped Ipswich Town.

The crisis-hit club, currently in administration, is running an internet auction for supporters to bid for the Portman Road turf.

Billed as "The Ipswich Bargain Hunt" – in reference to the hit BBC show hosted by David Dickinson – the auction also includes signed Blues memorabilia, some of which was outstripping the pitch for prices last night.


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To kick-off with, the Division One club is flogging the Portman Road centre spot, with the bidding last night standing at £41.

The penalty spot at the South Stand has attracted bids of up to £36, while its opposite penalty spot, at the North Stand end, is going for £33.

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The sections of turf were salvaged from Portman Road before Ipswich Town groundsman Alan Ferguson embarked upon a close-season overhaul of the playing surface.

It has suffered this season from a lack of sunlight reaching the grass, caused by the stadium's built-up environment.

Other exhibits up for sale include a signed and framed photo of former Ipswich Town goalkeeper Richard Wright, for which bidding has reached £100, and a similar signed picture of midfielder Jim Magilton, slightly less costly at £36.

There is also a signed programme for last season's match against Rotherham United, for which the bidding stood at £12 last night.

The pitch sections auction ends on Wednesday, while the signed memorabilia can be snapped up any time before Friday. Bidding for the programme ends on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Ipswich Town has confirmed three of its company cars have been returned to a motor leasing company.

Two BMWs that belonged to non-playing members of staff have gone back at the end of their lease, while Nigerian star Finidi George has decided he no longer wants his company car.

To enter the internet auction for the Ipswich Town goods, go to www.itfc.premiumtv.co.uk.

n The selling price of a Norwich City programme proved the biggest surprise of a sporting memorabilia auction held in Ipswich.

The 32-page programme for the Canaries match against Sheffield United on August 19, 1936, went for £220 at yesterday's sale by Leisure Collectables.

But it was not the costliest exhibit, as a Manchester United programme for the club's match with West Ham on January 1, 1926, fetched £460 – treble its expected price – amid fierce bidding.

The sale, held at the Marriott Hotel in Ipswich, also featured a handwritten note by football legend Sir Alf Ramsey in 1959 when he was manager of Ipswich Town.

It was responding to a man who had recommended a young player to the club – and fetched £80 at the auction.

Organiser Nick Barber said only 60 of the 629 lots had been unsold at the end of the sale, which attracted hundreds of collectors and dealers from across the country.

"There were a lot of phone bidders and some of the prices were quite surprising, especially for the Norwich programme. There is quite a bit of interest in Norwich programmes – as much as there is for Ipswich ones," he added.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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