Town fans banned for refusing to sit

THREE Ipswich Town fans have been banned from Portman Road after refusing to remain seated during the club's last match.The fans had been sitting in the lower tier of the North Stand during Saturday's game against Coventry City and consistently refused to comply with ground regulations which require supporters to sit down.

By Danielle Nuttall

THREE Ipswich Town fans have been banned from Portman Road after refusing to remain seated during the club's last match.

The fans had been sitting in the lower tier of the North Stand during Saturday's game against Coventry City and consistently refused to comply with ground regulations which require supporters to sit down.

As a result, police officers were instructed to escort the three fans from the stadium.

The club said on its official website that the supporters would remain banned from Portman Road until the outcome of the next board meeting in early September.

It added during Saturday's match, the club issued a number of warnings to fans who persistently stood throughout the game and before kick off.

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ITFC safety officer Geoff Sheppard said: "We have given all supporters due warning that, in line with the Football Licensing Authority's guidelines, we are committed to ensuring that fans generally remain seated throughout the game.

"This is primarily a safety issue, we are acting in line with Government instructions and in the hope that by altering the actions of a minority of Town supporters we can ensure the continued safe enjoyment of the remaining fans."

The club said action to ban people who repeatedly stand during the match was being backed by Suffolk police.

Ch Supt Geoff Munns said: "The Constabulary continues to support Ipswich Town Football Club stewards in the enforcement of all ground regulations.

"The football licensing authorities have made it clear to the club that persistent standing in the ground by fans must be addressed.

"Those who were ejected last Saturday had been persistently standing in the North Stand despite stewards advising them to the contrary."

Meanwhile, a Town fan has spoken of his anger at what he claims is a "double standards" approach by ITFC in the enforcement of the non-standing rule.

Chris Grayling, of Rushmere, said he had witnessed half a dozen fans being ejected from the Greene King stand for standing up during recent matches after allegedly being "taunted" by the away fans, who he claims persistently stand up.

Mr Grayling said: "I have been supporting the club since 1962 and I am as passionate and emotional as any Town supporter and when there is a goal or goalmouth incident every supporter is drawn to their feet as a natural response.

"However, over the last few seasons, as a seated stadium, I along with a lot of other passionate fans have noticed extremely frustrating cases of double standards.

"This lack of consistency came to a head last Saturday as far as I was concerned when the Coventry fans persistently stood up during any part of the game exciting or not.

"We have a difficult game (West Ham) on Saturday both on and off the pitch and unless this is dealt with even-handedly it will only be the catalyst for more problems."

Last night Terry Baxter, ITFC press manager, said: "There clearly is not discrimination to our own supporters. The instructions from the Government and licensing authorities is quite straightforward in that supporters who persistently stand should be dealt with and that's why we have asked the police for their assistance.

"We make no discrepancy between either the home or away fans. All fans are subjected to the same ground regulations that our own supporters are and will be dealt with on the same basis."

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