Norwich stop Town fans listening to games

THOUSANDS of Ipswich Town fans have been blocked from following their team over the airwaves by the club's rivals Norwich City, it has emerged.

Russell Claydon

THOUSANDS of Ipswich Town fans have been blocked from following their team over the airwaves by the club's rivals Norwich City, it has emerged.

SGR FM's Blues commentary had been reaching supporters in north Suffolk on a special digital link-up with a Norfolk station - until the Canaries decided to pull the plug on the coverage.

Norwich City's objection to The Football League has meant fans in Southwold, Halesworth, Lowestoft and Beccles - outside of SGR's transmission area - can no longer tune into full minute-to-minute coverage of Ipswich's home matches.

SGR had broadcast their full coverage of Ipswich Town's first three matches of the 2008/09 campaign on a DAB digital transmission on one of its sister stations, Norfolk Gold.

Norwich City's objection will now indefinitely prevent them from further match coverage on the station.

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The move is sure to anger Ipswich's north Suffolk supporters and those exiled in Norfolk, as it was their only source of full Town commentary.

David Patrick, a newsagent based in Halesworth, who has followed the fortunes of Ipswich for more than 30 years, said: “We have good friendly banter between both clubs but to me this is not making for good relations and is going to put Ipswich fans' backs up towards Norwich fans and it does not need to be like that.”

Mr Patrick, who delivers papers in both Norfolk and Suffolk, added: “It is very petty in this day and age. Football supporters do not change clubs and they (Norwich) do not need to be like this.”

Joe Ferrari, a spokesman for Norwich City Football Club, confirmed they had lodged their complaints about the DAB coverage with The Football League.

He said: “We have no problem with the principle of local radio stations broadcasting commentary of their local team's matches to that team's traditional catchment area.

“However, the proposals of SGR extend the broadcast range for their Ipswich Town commentaries throughout Norfolk as far up the coast as Cromer.

“The essence of the agreement with The Football League is to allow radio stations to broadcast commentary to areas local to clubs.

“It is not, as we understand it, intended to allow clubs to broadcast to entire regions.”

Ipswich-based station SGR signed a three-year deal with Town at the beginning of the season to be the only home station that can broadcast full commentary from Portman Road.

Dan Thorpe, programme controller, admitted they were disappointed with the decision.

He said: “The reason for this is Ipswich Town Football Club withdrew their request for it, following talks between themselves and Norwich City Football Club.”

He added they would like to resume the service in the future if permission was granted again.

Terry Baxter, director of communications for Ipswich Town, said: “Clearly we are disappointed that SGR are not able to offer commentary via the Norfolk Gold DAB service.

“We had hoped that SGR would be able to facilitate this, following discussions with other parties. However, this has proved not to be the case.”

Figures provided to the East Anglian Daily Times suggest that the loss of the DAB facility will halve the potential audience the football commentary could reach.

It is understood Norfolk Gold will now revert back to its international music programme during the slots that had been taken over by the commentary.