SEASON TICKET DEBATE: A solid platform for progress, but will ‘stubborn’ football pull the punters in at an increased price? ‘Now is not the time to wobble’ says Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town last night announced that season ticket prices would be going up in price. STUART WATSON takes a look at the dilemma facing supporters.

‘Now is not the time to wobble’.

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne hit the nail on the head with that final word when judging the mood among supporters as season ticket prices were announced for 2014/15.

There’s a metaphorical angel and demon sitting on each shoulder of the Blues faithful at present.

The positive figure is pointing out that, in less than 16 months, manager Mick McCarthy has transformed the Suffolk side from one that was rock-bottom of the Championship table into one that still has an outside chance of a top-six finish with 10 games to go.

The wage bill has been slashed ahead of new Financial Fair Play rules, the average age of the squad has been reduced, key contracts have been tied up and the club has a boss who can squeeze every last drop out of a low-budget squad.

In short, with a more level playing field on the horizon, there is a very solid platform in place for Ipswich to kick on from.

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Then there’s the voice whispering in the other ear. ‘Don’t you always say that next season is going to be ‘the one’?’

Unless the Blues pull off a minor miracle to sneak into the top six and then win the play-offs, next season will be the 13th in a row at second tier level.

And with McCarthy admitting that the style of football has been ‘stubborn not sexy’ this season, many will be seriously considering whether they can justify the time and money.

“I would say to our fans ‘this is not the time to wobble’,” said Milne. “We appreciate it’s been 12 years of Championship football, but this is the best position the club has been in for years and a lot of foundations have been now been put in place to make that next step forwards.

“We’ve achieved a lot, both from the playing and non-playing side of things. We have exceeded expectations and that gives us hope that we can perform even better next year.”

Joint MD Jonathan Symonds said: “The league table speaks for itself. If you look at where we were 15 months ago it was a very different scenario. We recently had a survey carried out and the one word that came through was ‘progress’. There was a lot of positive feedback from fans and we appreciate that.

“We’re clearly looking to build on what we’ve managed to achieve this year. If we have the same level of growth over the next 12 months then there should be some exciting times.”

He added: “We understand that pricing is a sensitive subject and in an ideal world we would have liked to have held them where they are, across the board. But with things like Financial Fair Play coming in, it’s meant we’ve had to review the pricing. The bottom line is that the season ticket, for 50% of our fans, is only going up by nine pounds.

“It’s still an increase, but we do feel it’s very fair when you consider what you get for it. In particular we’ve tried to keep the price down for young families and we’re continually looking at ways to improve the all-round matchday experience.

“We’re aware of what other clubs are doing but we have to run Ipswich the best way possible. We know how much it takes to run the club, we’re working within the Financial Fair Play and that’s how we’ve come to the prices we have.”

Milne added: “It’s quite interesting that some clubs have charged a lower price than we have and it hasn’t improved their gate. You have to look at it town-by-town. What’s good for Wigan or Brighton might not be good for us.”