Town’s crowds are holding up well in Championship terms

IPSWICH TOWN: Blues attendances are down this season, but they are holding up better than most clubs in the Championship.

And the reduction in income through the turnstiles this season is set to be balanced out by the extra revenue Town will accrue by their two-legged Carling Cup semi-final with Arsenal and their away FA Cup third round tie at Chelsea.

“On average attendance figures are down 5% in the Championship,” said Ipswich chief executive Simon Clegg at this week’s annual general meeting of Ipswich Town PLC.

“Our figures are 2% down, while our away support is up 17% on last season’s figures.”

Town’s two matches against the Gunners will bring in facility fees for live television of �200,000, while the combined attendance figure is likely to be over 80,000 giving the Blues at least another �200,000 for their share.

And with 40,000 expected to be at Stamford Bridge this will bring in at least another �200,000 making it a cool figure of a little under a �1million entering the Portman Road coffers next month.

With Blues owner Marcus Evans putting in �5 to �6 million every year on top of player fees and wages to run the day-to-day affairs of the club manager Roy Keane is unlikely to see his spending power increased.

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Ipswich Town plc chairman David Sheepshanks is a high ranking Football League official, and he stressed the importance to the Blues of having a wealthy backer like Evans.

“The money involved in running Championship clubs is obscene,” he said. “Many are losing seven figure sums every year and it is a real issue that has to be addressed within the game.

“The support of Marcus Evans and the financial help he gives our club should not be underestimated for one second.”

And former chairman and plc board member John Kerr added to this when he said: “We have to congratulate David Sheepshanks on his drive in getting Marcus Evans onboard three years ago.

“The club was in a difficult position with its debt, and his help has been invaluable and the club would not be the same without him.”

PANEL

Saturday’s attendance for the visit of Swansea City (16.978) was the lowest for a league game at Portman Road since 14,712 witnessed a visit from West Brom on December 18 1999.

A month before the WBA game, 14,514 watched a 0-0 draw against Tranmere Rovers, which was the lowest of the season.

The lowest attendance in 1998/99 was 11,598 against Bradford City on September 8 when Town were 16th in the league and finished in third place.

The previous campaign two attendances went below 10,000 – against Stockport County on November 4 (8,938) and against Sheffield United on November 7 (9,695). Ipswich finished the season fifth in Division One.

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