Fans urged to be earlybirds

BLUES' believers are set to be rewarded, as Ipswich Town urge fans to back Joe Royle's entertainers by pledging their support early.With match-day tickets going up by 17% for those who hang on until next season, season ticket holders who renew before April 15 will face an increase of just 5%.

By Derek Davis

BLUES' believers are set to be rewarded, as Ipswich Town urge fans to back Joe Royle's entertainers by pledging their support early.

With match-day tickets going up by 17% for those who hang on until next season, season ticket holders who renew before April 15 will face an increase of just 5%.

Supporters will once again be able to pay by three cheques at 0% interest, with payment going through on April 25, June 30 and August 31.

The Blues are asking fans to renew, or commit to buying season tickets, earlier than ever in a bid to plan with certainty for next season, no matter what division they are in.

Blues' chairman David Sheepshanks insisted the early investment by fans would be used next season and was not for use in the remainder of the current campaign.

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After spending £250,000 on Darren Currie, the Blues have also taken on loan Danny Karbassiyoon from Arsenal, David Unsworth from Portsmouth, and most recently, when it appeared all funds had been used up, James Scowcroft from Leicester.

Under the Company Voluntary Agreement, the club are not allowed to get a loan from the bank, so they have used money accumulated by gate receipts from an average 25,000, which exceeded the 21,500 budget, and television money.

Sheepshanks said: “We have gone beyond what we expected to spend but not beyond what we can afford to spend.

“We have gone to the limit of what we can afford to spend at this juncture.

“Week-by-week we have been able to afford more, partly through increased gates and partly through added investment in the club, with a number of new loan note investors last autumn.

“Our budget does not include being in the play-offs and no budget has been made on a wave of emotion, we have simply invested the maximum we can afford.”

With the Board showing considerable faith in Joe Royle and his squad, they can reasonably expect Blues' fans, including many of the current 18,400 season-ticket holders, to back the club the best they can.

Sheepshanks said: “When you have rowed the boat out, as we have, then it is always good to have the return commitment from supporters, who recognise the investment the club has made. Everyone is enjoying the success we have to date and we all want to see it continue.

“Cash flow is important, more so than profit and loss in the running of a football business, so the pledge of early cash is important.

“But it is the certainty of renewal that is even more important, and that is the principal reason for asking supporters to renew early.

“It has nothing to do with James Scowcroft arriving at the club, that decision was made after we had decided on ticket details.

“There is no direct correlation in the investment of players this season with supporters season-ticket renewal.

“There is a correlation overall in what can be afforded and, if supporters were to desert in their droves, then we would not be able to afford next season anything like the team we have now.

“The more people who feel able to purchase or renew season tickets early, the greater help they will be to the club.”

As the Blues announce their first price increase across the board for four years, the club has not taken anything for granted, by issuing the cost to watch Town in the Premiership and the Championship next season.

Fans who take advantage of the 'earlybird' renewal will effectively watch three Premiership games (or six Championship matches) for free next season.

Sheepshanks said: “The Board are trying to do their bit, within the confines in which we operate and that are prudent in terms of financial management. We are doing the very maximum we can to achieve our desired aim.

“There is no doubt the supporters are as well, by coming in huge number. It is magnificent to see and hugely appreciated.

“The next step is the season-ticket campaign for next season. There is an element of 'a leap of faith' about it but one look at the table tells us what we are all hoping.”

New season tickets are also available for those that are not existing holders, while prices for under-11s haves frozen at £57.50, with more seats becoming available in the Greene King Lower tier.

With the average per capita of season ticket sales working out at £12.55 per game, a take-up of 20,000 means a guaranteed £9m. That would constitute 25% of the club's revenue for a season in the Premiership, while it would be 40% of its income in the Championship.

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