North Stander: Plenty of Ipswich fans haven’t been missing football... this is a moment of danger for the game
PUBLISHED: 12:00 07 June 2020 | UPDATED: 13:19 07 June 2020
North Stander Terry Hunt discusses the importance of fans to the beautiful game as Ipswich Town look set to be put out of their misery at an EFL meeting this week.
The way things are going, the dithering and delay over how to end the League One season will soon rival Coronation Street as Britain’s longest-running soap opera.
For goodness sake, surely the clubs will finally make a decision in the next few days...won’t they? Hopefully, sense will prevail and the regular season will be brought to an end with only the play-offs to be decided.
I’m disappointed that Ipswich have put their name to one of the ridiculous alternative endings. The only fair way is points per game, which would leave us 11th.
Let’s put the season out of its misery and move on. We’re only a couple of weeks away from Mid Summer’s Day, after all! We should be watching cricket, not football.
The saddest thing of all is that when I talk to fellow Town fans, we pretty much all agree on one thing: We haven’t been missing football one little bit. It’s a sad indictment of the hugely dispiriting experience of being an Ipswich supporter in the last few years.
I was pleased to see the refreshingly honest appraisal of the situation from Cole Skuse this week. The veteran admitted Town’s finish to the season has been “hugely disappointing” and “outrageous.”
Well said, Cole. I’ve never met Skuse, but I’m told he is a very intelligent, thoughtful man, with a ready dry wit. He’s obviously very honest as well. I’m pleased he’s staying at Portman Road. He’s obviously a good character to have around, and an excellent influence for the younger players.
If we can safely assume that Town’s season is over, then we can draw a veil over the 2019-20 season, and turn our attention to what lies ahead.
Unfortunately, the immediate future is full of uncertainties, which is true of so much of our world at the moment.
When will next season kick off? And what, if any, part will supporters play? We will soon experience watching behind-closed-doors Premier League games on TV. It will, I have no doubt, be very strange. The glimpses I’ve seen of the Bundesliga with players scoring goals in utter silence is weird. It’s football, but not as we know it.
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I watched a TV interview with Glenn Murray of Brighton, talking about the return of the Premier League. Like Cole Skuse, he comes across as a bright guy. He made the point that never before in football’s history has it been so obvious how important the fans are.
Let’s hope, under these very strange circumstances, that message comes across loud and clear, and is not forgotten when things return to normal.
With some exceptions, football has an absolutely disgraceful record of taking its supporters for granted. Eye watering prices, poor customer service, soaringly expensive food and drink. That seems to go pretty much across the board. Let’s hope this is a real wake-up call.
Football really does need to sit up and take notice because this is a moment of danger for the sport. As I’ve already mentioned, I believe many people have been surprised by how much they’ve NOT missed their football.
If clubs aren’t careful, a proportion of their supporters will find other ways to spend their time and money instead of faithfully going to a game every fortnight or so. Football needs to up its game, in terms of the way it looks after the fans.
That challenge comes on top of all the other financial issues clubs like Ipswich are facing. There are so many questions which currently have no answers.
Firstly, what will the club do about the games season ticket holders have paid to watch, but haven’t been played? I’m sure many fans will forfeit the money as a goodwill gesture. I know I will. But the club certainly cannot assume that goes for everyone, so they will have to come up with a way to refund supporters. Tricky.
Then there’s next season. Several thousand season ticket holders have already committed money, but there is no guarantee we will be able to attend games.
So how will we watch games? There’s talk of live streaming, or drive-ins. Maybe that will work for some, but there might be some who don’t feel that represents value for their money. Again, goodwill and loyalty to the club might have to be tested.
Whatever solution the Portman Road hierarchy comes up with, it looks pretty certain revenues will be massively damaged.
Tough, tough times. I’m glad I’m a mere fan, and not having to come up with answers to all these questions.
The first step, of course, is actually finishing the season. Let’s hope the soap opera has a sensible ending this week.
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