Town fail to get multi-ball kicked out

Ipswich Town and Colchester United will be playing the multi-ball system next season after a vote to have it banned was kicked into touch.

Derek Davis

Ipswich Town and Colchester United will be playing the multi-ball system next season after a vote to have it banned was kicked into touch.

Just seven of the 24 Championship clubs backed the Blues call for the rule to be changed at the Football League summit in Portugal yesterday, while only three in League One, where Colchester will be playing next term, wanted the system halted.

But Ipswich were successful in their caveat which means clubs will have to decide at the beginning of the season if they want to opt in or out at their home stadiums and stick to it for every match, unlike last season when it was on the whim of the manager.

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Blues chairman David Sheepshanks, speaking from Portugal last night, said: “We made the proposal at Jim Magilton's request, with the full backing of the board.

“We believe the multi-ball system affects the integrity of the competition. It is open to abuse as we saw on occasions a certain ground last season.

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“For these reasons we proposed the rules were changed. However, it was revealing that the vast majority of clubs in the Football league, and a substantial amount in the Championship, wanted to keep the multi-ball system.

“We cannot go against the wishes of the clubs and this was a case of democracy in action.”

Although Ipswich Town are in favour of free-flowing football and are for an up-tempo game on the whole, Magilton felt his side were disadvantaged more than once last season, most notably at Stoke when he was sent to the stands for arguing his case vehemently to the referee, when ball boys were quick to give the ball to the opposition but dragged their heels when it came to a Town throw in.

Interestingly the system is banned in the Premier League where there have been no problems with the way the ball is returned.

Football League board member Sheepshanks chaired a meeting yesterday morning where supporter initiatives were discussed and he paid tribute to rivals Norwich City who have been at the forefront of such schemes.

Roger Mumby and Andrew Cullen were among the City delegates while chief executive Marie Partner and director John Worsp represented the U's at the annual shindig.

Among items discussed were the idea of a sin bin and blood bin which the Football League support but can take no further action as FIFA have been cool to the ideas.

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