Fuller Flavour: Government should step in to ensure fans don’t lose money on away days amid coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus means there will be no football at Portman Road until at least April 4 - but Karl Fuller

Coronavirus means there will be no football at Portman Road until at least April 4 - but Karl Fuller is worried fans will lose money on away days. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

Never in a million years did I think that I would be writing a column about Ipswich Town games not taking place due to a global pandemic, writes Karl Fuller.

When you look at how many major sporting events are being postponed, it was absolutely the right decision by the EFL to postpone games for the next three weeks. But realistically, will games return from April 4?

Nobody can say for sure of course but I really cannot see how they can resume that quickly. I suppose having a wife that works in our local hospital, I am fed more information about coronavirus and the potential impact on hospitals and beyond at first-hand and, despite my best efforts to carry on regardless, it does kind of hit home a bit more.

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Football clubs including Town are doing all that they can to placate supporters with offering ticket refunds or confirming straight away that tickets are valid for rearranged games, whenever they may be.

It’s a shame that rail companies are not as sympathetic when it comes to those of us with advanced train tickets for away days, which are not being refunded. At the very least, they should be offering some kind of voucher for future travel.

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I am a victim of this myself as I was due to travel to Liverpool in a couple of weeks for their legends game against Barcelona Legends and had paid £85 for advanced tickets. I spoke to the rail company concerned and their stance is that their service is not affected. That’s ok then. As long as they continue to make money from such unfortunate circumstances!

Town fans at Sunderland earlier this season. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

Town fans at Sunderland earlier this season. Picture: PAGEPIX LTD

I had the offer of changing my tickets for another date at an admin cost of £10 per ticket provided I changed before the original date of travel. The problem here is, the date of the rescheduled game will not be known by then.

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The Government should step in and insist on a change of stance – and not just for thousands of football fans who will be losing out over the coming weeks I’ll add, there will be many people who will not be able to travel for events they’d pre-booked for.

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It remains to be seen now how the season will pan out. Will league fixtures be completed, even if played behind closed doors and when will they likely to be played? We could be looking at beyond May and possibly into June and then there will be a knock-on effect as to when next season may start. We could be in for a chaotic few months.

In the great scheme of things, Ipswich’s season will not be affected too much thanks to the recent downturn in form. At best, the chances of seeing injured players such as James Norwood or Kane Vincent-Young return before the season end will now likely increase. As for games and points to be won, it’s all of little consequence.

So, what are fans doing in the meantime to fill their Saturday afternoons? I know for some it will be excruciatingly painful not to be at football. I’m feeling quite smug with myself personally for having missed some Town games recently, I’m already acclimatised. I will feel well and truly in my close season now.

And with the time of year we’re now in, we’d usually be expecting news of next seasons’ season ticket prices in the next few weeks. The club will no doubt wait until our promotion chances are mathematically impossible which is fair enough.

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But if the situation drags on, we will not know of any details for a while yet I assume. The club may find itself in a situation where current direct debit payments are fully paid up for this season and then there could be a lull before direct debits for next season’s tickets start coming out of our bank accounts. Or will they just carry over and then one must assume it will force a price-freeze on season tickets for 2020/21?

There’s too much to think about at this stage and will be for a while yet.

In the meantime, good luck to those of you who still manage to find some kind of football to watch!

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