Portman Road is safe

IPSWICH Town have today moved to quell fears that they want to buy the freehold of Portman Road so they can consider whether to build a new ground elsewhere.

Fears have surfaced surrounding the club’s motives after chief executive Simon Clegg admitted they would like to purchase the land at the right price.

The Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust have called on the club to withdraw from any attempt to buy the ground as well as urging Ipswich Borough Council to stand firm in any negotiations.

But a club spokesman has dampened the speculation, insisting they have no desire to leave Portman Road – and that stipulations were in place to ensure the site can only be used for “sports purposes”.

“The club is still interested in buying the freehold, but it has to be at the right price,” a Town spokesman said. “There are stipulations or restrictions that say the owners of the land have to use it for sports purposes only.

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“We believe the club is in a very good location, in terms of Portman Road, with regards to its proximity to the train station, roads and the fact the stadium is in the heart of the town centre.”

Clegg confirmed earlier this month that a “substantial” offer for the ground had been made, but there was “considerable distance” between the club and the council over the price.

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And while not looking to point a finger at owner Marcus Evans, the independent supporters trust believes the predicaments faced by clubs such as Wrexham and Plymouth over ownership of their grounds means clubs must proceed with caution.

A spokesman for the trust said: “Instead of changing the ownership or freehold status, we instead call on the club, having resolved the current rent dispute, to look to the long-term future and withdraw from attempting to buy the ground.

“Moreover, should the club continue to pursue this avenue, we call on the council to stand firm and refuse all offers, regardless the temptations to cash in on such an asset at a time of austerity.”

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