Town fans urged to help their club

PROMINENT figures from across East Anglia have urged football fans to back Ipswich Town in its hour of need.Top farmers, solicitors, headteachers and sports stars, including an Olympic athlete, have pledged their support to the crisis-hit club, which is preparing to come out of administration.

PROMINENT figures from across East Anglia have urged football fans to back Ipswich Town in its hour of need.

Top farmers, solicitors, headteachers and sports stars, including an Olympic athlete, have pledged their support to the crisis-hit club, which is preparing to come out of administration.

They co-signed a letter to the East Anglian Daily Times which asked fans to buy season tickets and stressed "the over-riding need now is for the club to move forward".

The signatories include swimming world record holder Karen Pickering and former Essex cricket star Ray East, set to be two of the club's new season ticket holders.

Life-long Town supporter David Barker MBE, a farmer from Westhorpe, near Stowmarket, had the idea of the letter after considering ways he could help the club.

He said: "I thought about writing a letter on my own but I realised that if it had 20 or so other signatures it might make more of an impact.

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"I wanted it to have names that people would readily recognise and approached people in a wide mix of occupations."

Mr Barker, 54, who has been a season ticket holder at Portman Road for 35 years, added: "It's so vital that people take up their season tickets because the money is crucial to the refinancing of the club.

"This is not just about being a fan. The success of the football club is so important to the area and the whole idea is to look forward, not backward. I hope lots of others will pledge their support."

Ms Pickering, 31, from Ipswich, bought her first ever Town season ticket yesterday, in the Britannia Stand, after being converted to the Blues' cause – her family are all Arsenal fans.

The swimmer, a double Gold medallist at last year's Commonwealth Games, urged others to reach into their pockets to help the club.

She said: "A lot of the kids at the swimming pool, for example, are season ticket holders and may not yet have got round to renewing or applying yet so if this letter can help jolt a few people into doing it, then it will have been worthwhile.

"If you are going to buy one anyway, why not do it now and help the club out even more? It really will make a difference."

Ms Pickering, who has been awarded the MBE for her services to sport, said: "My family were all Arsenal supporters so it was hereditary for me and I'm still happy to see them do well. I'm glad they won the cup but I have moved on. I have lived in Ipswich a long time now and I can quite honestly say I'm an Ipswich Town supporter.

"The football club is such a big part of the town and there is such a strong community feel in this town that you can't help but support the team when you live here."

She added: "I know the football club need support this year. I go to games when I can and my parents came up from Brighton to watch the game last March and had a fantastic day out.

"I have always been treated incredibly well here and they are a very hospitable club. So at a time when they are struggling it is good that I'm able to do something to help."

Former Essex Cricket Club bowler Mr East said he was considering buying his first season ticket after more than 50 years supporting Ipswich Town.

Mr East, who now teaches at Ipswich School, said: "Whatever has gone on has gone and all the griping and blaming people for what has happened has got to stop.

"Now we've got to get behind the club and get them back to the position they were in a few years ago."

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