Bizarre banner has done nothing for the reputation of Ipswich Town fans

JUST what was that banner all about?

The actions of a small number of Ipswich Town supporters has created an unnecessary tension with Brighton & Hove Albion.

An impressive 2,429 Blues supporters made the trip to the brand new Amex Stadium on Saturday, but a handful of them caused quite a stir when unfurling a provocative written statement just prior to kick-off.

The words read: “Some things money can’t buy. Football isn’t one: The Amex.’

It was greeted by resounding boos from the home crowd, who then gleefully suggested where the visiting supporters could stick their banner as each of their three goals hit the net over the ensuing 90 minutes of action.

Overlook the fact that a double negative creates confusion. And forget the fact that an attempted pun surrounding the stadium’s sponsors – American Express – was ruined by the fact that the slogan is actually from MasterCard.

Quite what the meaning of the message was remains something of a mystery.

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Some have suggested that it was somehow a general political point at how the business aspect of football has sullied the beautiful game.

If that was the case then they couldn’t have picked a more inappropriate target for their frustrations.

Brighton were forced to move out of and sell their former Goldstone Ground home in 1997 to clear mounting debts. Their supporters then had to endure 14 years of ‘temporary’ measures, ground ground-sharing with Gillingham for two seasons – the Kent side situated more than 70 miles away – then moving into football unfriendly athletics stadium The Withdean, where fans were seated miles from the action.

Indeed, no-one could deny that the south coast club’s long-suffering fans deserved their new purpose-built 22,374 stadium at Falmer after facing a decade of red-tape frustration.

Was the banner trying to point out some sort of irony at the fact a club which had got itself into financial trouble was now sponsored by a credit card company?

Arguably the bigger irony was that those trying to make that point support a club which was in administration itself not so long ago and now relies heavily on the backing of a multi-millionaire owner in the form of Marcus Evans.

What is it they say about people in glass houses throwing stones? Perhaps they would be better off protesting at their own ground before pointing the finger at others.

The majority of Blues supporters have moved quickly to distance themselves from the banner, stating their embarrassment on internet forums and social networking websites. Unfortunately, though, Brighton fans will not forget this perceived cheap shot.

There was a time when many a football fan had a soft spot for ‘family club’ Ipswich Town. This is yet another setback for such a reputation.