‘We can’t please everyone’ – Simon Clegg responds to fans’ criticism of ticket debacle

IPSWICH Town chief executive Simon Clegg insists he has gone ‘way beyond the commitment required in terms and conditions’ with his offer of compensation for supporters following Saturday’s abandoned game against Middlesbrough.

Shortly after the Championship game at Portman Road called off after just 37 minutes due to a strip of frozen pitch, Clegg was quick to direct supporters to the small print on the back of their tickets.

Under the rules set in place, fans were not entitled to a refund and instead would be offered 50% off the rearranged game.

Now, following two days of consideration, a better deal has been offered – but only slightly better.

Those who were amongst the 19,375 crowd – full of ‘floating’ supporters due to a 25% discount ticket trial – will still not be offered any kind of refund.

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Instead they will get half price of the original discounted price, meaning tickets will effectively be �5-10 for the re-match on Tuesday, March 27.

That is simply not good enough a gesture in the eyes of many though, with plenty of supporters contacting the EADT and Ipswich Star to say they will simply not be able to attend the re-match on a Tuesday night.

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Some – who had been willing to give Portman Road another try following a period of self-exile – have gone as far as saying they will simply not return again having lost significant amounts of time and money attending the game at weekend.

Indeed, in a poll on this website, 72% said the club’s offer was simply not good enough, especially as Middlesbrough acted quickly to cover ALL costs – tickets and transport – for any of their 700 or so fans who wish to return for the re-match

“I’m incredibly frustrated for the fans – both ours and Middlesbrough’s – the club staff who worked so hard to get the game on in the first place and I’m frustrated for the players, because for 37 minutes it was looking so good for us,” said Clegg. “All round it was a very frustrating day.

“I was asked on Saturday what the situation was about tickets. The club’s got a policy to cover this eventuality, it’s on the back of the tickets which everyone bought, so the situation was very clear.

“I have reviewed that policy though, with the benefit of hindsight and in light of what happened on the day, to see if we could improve on that. And I’ve come up with a ticket policy which will hopefully attract people who didn’t attend the game on Saturday as well as those that did. The discounts are significant.

“It’s important to state I’m not setting a precedent here, but I have taken in account all the factors and am making this gesture having spoken to the chairman of the supporters trust. I think it’s the right decision for the football club.”

He continued: “It needs to be recognised that the club incurred a lot of operational costs on Saturday, irrespective of whether the game was abandoned or not. We’ve got nearly 400 extra members of staff here on a matchday – all of whom have to be paid still. We’ve got to pay Middlesbrough’s travelling expenses for their team, ambulance costs to cover, all of these things add up to a significant sum.

“We are conscious of the travelling costs that some fans have had to incur, but we can’t get into a situation where we’re going through the individual circumstances of nearly 20,000 fans. We’ve tried to come up with a policy which is consistent and fair to all and we believe this is it.”

Responding to Middlesbrough’s gesture towards their own fans, Clegg said: “With the price of tickets just �5 for away fans (for the re-match) the cost that Middlesbrough are picking up will not be that great.

“Let’s also remember that this club did make a fairly unprecedented gesture early in the season when we laid on 13 coaches to take fans up to Blackpool after the result against Peterborough (7-1 away defeat). We have shown good will to fans this seasons.” Asked if the club’s stay-away supporters were important to him, Clegg said: “Of course they are. They’ve already experienced it once before and we want to attract them back.

“We’ve got to make sure the pricing policy is competitive and allows them to do that, but we’ve also got to recognise that we’re in a testing economic time – both for the football club and the within the general community as well.

“I recognise there will be some that are not happy with this, but it’s really difficult to please all the fans all the time Of course it’s not going to appease all the fans, but I hope when they look at it as a whole they’ll agree it was the right thing for the club to do. We’re trying to run a sustainable business here.”

He continued: “What we’re trying to do here is go way beyond the commitment that we were required to in our terms and conditions. We wanted to make the right call from an overall perspective. I hope that people will recognise that we’ve done that.”

Town face Portsmouth away tonight in their latest Championship fixture. For full preview, see today’s EADT and Ipswich Star.

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