Ipswich: Super Blues snubbed by borough council

Ipswich Town Football Club, Portman Road

Ipswich Town Football Club, Portman Road - Credit: Mike Page

IT’S the best-known brand in Suffolk, recognised around Britain and much of Europe.

But it seems officials at the borough council didn’t think Ipswich Town Football Club was worth a mention in their new economic strategy document.

It wasn’t even mentioned after club chief executive Simon Clegg pointed out the omission in the first draft of the strategy, and was assured it would be amended.

The borough now says that the report approved by councillors at its meeting on Wednesday night was only a “latest draft” and the final strategy will have to be approved by the council’s executive later this month.

However it is clear that the omission of any reference to the football club was an oversight – which has left red faces among senior councillors and officials.

It is even more embarrasing because the borough owns the Portman Road freehold – it’s the club’s landlord!

Mr Clegg said he had seen the original draft of the strategy and had written to the borough councillor responsible for economic development, Carole Jones.

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She replied that the council was aware of the football club and its importance to the town would be recognised in the final strategy document.

However when the strategy was published for consideration by the full council meeting on Wednesday, there was still no mention of the club.

Mr Clegg said: “I was a little surprised and rather disappointed, especially after being assured that we would be worthy of a mention.”

He pointed out that the club’s name was known throughout the country – and across much of Europe thanks to the exploits of Sir Bobby Robson’s and George Burley’s teams.

“People of our age know of Ipswich because of the football club, and it remains a key part of the town’s economy.”

Under the culture and heritage section of the strategy there is mention of the 170,000 people who go to the Regent Theatre every year, the 117,500 who visit the town’s museums, and even the 5,390 who went to performances at Dance East.

But there is no reference to the 400,000 football fans who went to matches at Portman Road, including tens of thousands from other parts of the country.

Ms Jones said: “I can assure the club that their important role in the economic development of the town will be included in the final document when it comes to executive committee next month.”

However The Star understands that officials do accept they have scored an own goal by leaving the club out of the latest draft.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer had already been critical of the economic strategy – saying he felt it was meaningless.

After hearing this he said: “I am afraid this just confirms what you hear from businesses all over the town – that the borough does not know anything about the real world!

“If you’ll excuse the pun, it’s about time the borough upped its game.”

n How important is the football club to the town? Write to Your Letters, Ipswich Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail starletters@archant.co.uk

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