Season ticket price increase is ‘regrettable’ says Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town have announced all adult season ticket prices will increase by 1.5%. Managing director Ian Milne explained the decision.

Q: Why are prices going up after a below-average season?

A: It is regrettable that we’ve had to increase the adult ticket price by 1.5%. This is to fall in line within the strategy set out by the owner in the new year – a focus on the academy, having a competitive wage structure and signing players to develop.

“The playing squad spend has gone from £11.5m to £13.5m over the past three seasons. That has got to come from somewhere. Marcus (Evans), like everybody, has got a budget that he is prepared to spend.

Q: Those who purchase a season ticket before August 4 will get a 5% refund if 12,750 season tickets are sold. Is that target a realistic one given there are currently around 12,000 season ticket holders?

A: I think there is a very good chance with the competitive pricing we have introduced for the Under-23s.

Hopefully, with a few better results towards the end of the season, that is possible. We’d be very happy to pay back that 5%.

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Q: It’s clear that many season tickets holders have not been turning up this season and that official attendances (measured by tickets sold) are not a true reflection of the number of people inside the ground. Can you tell us what the real average attendance figure is and how much is that a concern?

A: We do try and keep a record of that, but it is never a precise science.

Attendances have been down and that has been disappointing. We are very aware of that and it has been part of an in-depth internal discussion.

We’re making the owner very aware of that and our concern. We are well aware that if we don’t provide entertaining football we are likely to lose support. That may hit season ticket sales. Maybe a small increase in price will also have an affect.

Q: You accept that many simply feel the entertainment value, or lack of it, does not justify their time and money at present?

A: It is winning football that will bring fans back. We know that. It’s like any form of entertainment - if you don’t provide the product that the fans like then they won’t attend. That’s not good. We’ve got to provide them with the product they want. Mick (McCarthy) and Marcus and everybody here understand that.

Q: Do you think that uncertainty surrounding the manager’s future may well play a part in some deciding whether to purchase a season ticket or not?

A: If people are concerned about that, and that’s what’s holding them up, yes, it would be nice to have that sorted in time for them to make a decision.

Mick has said he’s looking into his future, along with the budget, and he will sit down with Marcus at the end of the season. That discussion won’t take place until he knows we’re safe.

There are many fans quite happy with Mick McCarthy. I understand it’s an issue for some though because I get the letters.

They say Mick is the problem, but sometimes it’s difficult to know what they are expecting. It’s quite easy to say ‘I don’t like that’, but harder to say why they don’t like it.

We’ve got a good squad on paper, I don’t think anybody disagrees with that. There are matches where the players have all said they should have performed a lot better.

We’re asking people to keep the faith and know we need to get few some of these problems.

Q: Huddersfield sold season tickets for £179 last summer and now look at them. Did you not consider something similar to generate a feel good factor again?

A: That was raised with the owner, along with various other schemes, but was seen as a radical risk for decreased revenue by him. That wasn’t a route he was prepared to go down.

That is just one club that’s done that. And it’s a club that has specific issues in terms of competing clubs around them.

Q: You’ll be aware that there are many sitting on the fence still regarding whether to renew or not.

The rise is not a huge amount of money – pence per game in most cases – but the fact there is any sort of rise could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for many. Is the club not risking a lot for a fairly small reward?

A: I understand. I would reiterate there is a need to fall in line with the owner’s strategy which he set out in January.