‘Ipswich Town is more than just a football club’ - MP raises challenges facing club to EFL boss

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said that Ipswich Town was more than a club to its community Picture: TOM HUNT

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said that Ipswich Town was more than a club to its community Picture: TOM HUNT - Credit: Archant

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt has been discussing the challenges facing Ipswich Town with the chairman of the EFL.

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was one of several MPs to speak to EFL boss Rick Parry Picture: TOM HUNT

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt was one of several MPs to speak to EFL boss Rick Parry Picture: TOM HUNT - Credit: Archant

Mr Hunt was one of several MPs to meet with Rick Parry on Friday to discuss the challenges facing EFL clubs during the coronavirus pandemic and the need for financial support for them.

In particular, Mr Hunt told Mr Parry of the challenges facing Town and the role that it plays within the community.

He also highlighted how a lack of gate receipts had placed financial pressures on EFL clubs and called for a clear strategy to be in place to support clubs.

Mr Hunt also raised how fans had been allowed to return safely to stadiums in some countries like Germany, until restrictions were reimplemented.

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The Ipswich MP welcomed the solidarity payments from the Premier League but suggested that this could be taken further.

The meeting follows Mr Hunt’s visit to Portman Road earlier in the month where he met general manager Lee O’Neill to discuss the issues facing the club.

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Mr Hunt had previously raised his disappointment over the return of fans to stadiums being postponed in the House of Commons.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Hunt said:“EFL clubs, including Ipswich Town, are struggling at the moment and we must treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves.

“The idea that we could get to a place where the future of our local club is in question doesn’t bear thinking about, and we mustn’t take its presence for granted.

“Ultimately getting fans back in to the stadium in a safe way must be a priority in tackling the financial pressures clubs like Town are under.

“But while the Government says this isn’t possible, we must have a comprehensive strategy in place to ensure they’re properly supported.

“Measures like a PAYE holiday for clubs should be considered, and while this isn’t an easy time for Premier League clubs either, we should look at how the top tier of English football can support clubs further down which are more reliant on ticket sales.

“Ipswich Town is more than just a football club, it’s a pillar of our community and the jobs and community initiatives it supports are also at the forefront of my mind.

“These can easily be lost but take a long time to build back up and it’s vital we put the investment in now to ensure we’re not facing much greater losses further down the line.

“I’ll remain in close contact with Ipswich Town and I’ll keep looking to raise this issue in the House of Commons wherever possible to fight for our local club.”

An Ipswich Town spokesman said:“The club appreciate Tom Hunt’s support on this matter. Lee O’Neill, the club’s general manager of football operations, met with Tom earlier this month at Portman Road and discussed the measures that the Club have in place in preparation for the return of fans to Portman Road.

“Lee and Tom also discussed how important the club’s matchdays are for the town and local businesses, which Tom has since raised in Parliament.

“Matchday revenue is vital to all clubs outside the Premier League as it’s the main source of revenue.

“The club wants to see fans return to stadiums as soon as it is safe to do so.”

MORE: Ipswich MP Tom Hunt calls for return of football fans at Portman Road

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