Former Blues stars must pay for a cuppa

WHAT started as a storm in a teacup has turned into a maelstrom of discontent among ex players and Ipswich Town backers.

Derek Davis

WHAT started as a storm in a teacup has turned into a maelstrom of discontent among ex players and Ipswich Town backers.

Blues legends who include those who have won league titles and cups at Portman Road are being told they must now pay for their pre-match cup of tea and pie.

Up until this year guests, including players, associate directors and visiting scouts, who use the Champions Lounge at Portman Road have enjoyed a free cuppa, something to eat and a programme.

But new owner Marcus Evans has ended the perks to those who have served the club so well and now charges £1.60 for a small cup of tea or coffee and £3.50 for a pie and it has not gone down well.

The move is seen as disrespectful to the players who put the three stars on the Town shirt and goes against the old-fashioned ethos of the club that prides itself on its hospitality and doing things 'The Ipswich Way'.

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An associate director, who asked not to be identified, said: “It is not so much about the money but the principle. I have put thousands into the club and I resent now having to queue to pay for a cup of tea for a guest.

“For people who have given so much to the club, and by that I mainly mean the old players, some of whom have won a Championship, UEFA Cup and FA Cup, to be treated this way is, quite frankly, disgraceful.”

One ex-player, who also asked not to be named, said: “I read with interest the feature in your paper with Jim about 'The Ipswich Way' and agreed with him 100 per cent. But this is hardly the 'Ipswich Way' is it?

“Ipswich Town has a reputation of being a family club that looks after its family and their guests.

“This sort of penny-pinching does the club no credit at all and reflects badly on the current regime.

“The Cobbold brothers would turn in their graves at some of the things that are going on here today.

“I appreciate things change and move on but the basic principles and values should not and this is another example of Ipswich Town losing its uniqueness.”

The club defended the move as being a prudent business decision with a spokesman saying: “Marcus Evans has always made it clear that his priority is to provide the backing to the manager to strengthen the squad and that has clearly been evident with the number of signings made since January.

“A number of those players have been prised away from the Premier League. The costs of running the football club continue to rise and indeed Ipswich Town Football Club's operating loss is now subsidised by Marcus Evans. “Accordingly, we have trimmed expenditure off field where possible and seek to recover our costs throughout the business as any commercially run organisation would.”

The former players still receive one match ticket free but have to pay for any accompanying guests.

Ironically the Champions lounge guests still get their cuppa free at half time but if they return to the lounge after the match they then have to pay again.

There are plans for a room next to the Champions Lounge to be used to house scouts who then would not have to pay for the privilege of a drink and programme.