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SUPPORTERS' FORUM - A REPORT

2 January 2014

A look at what was on the agenda when the fans met the Club

The latest supporters forum, a discussion session on all things Blues between fans and the Club took place in November. Here is a report on some of the things on the agenda...

Club media role 
Steve Pearce and Jade Cole from the Club’s communications office gave an in depth explanation of their roles at Portman Road.  
Steve outlined the communication channels as being via the Club’s website, twitter and facebook as well as the matchday programme. He explained that the Club website infrastructure is controlled by the Football League and although there was initially some negative reaction from supporters and understandably so, those concerns have disappeared over time.  
It was pointed out that it’s not financially viable at the moment for the Club to try and operate an independent website like Manchester City or United because of the resources needed to do that.
The Club’s Ipswich Player service has gone out to more than 3000 subscribers per season since its formation almost 10 years ago and it rated as one of the most successful in the Football League. The service was well received by supporter members of the Forum.
The matchday programme has gone down well with supporters and despite gates being down on last season, sales of the programme have increased. 
The programmes are now sold from white kiosks around the stadium and Planet Blue and Planet Bluey and although there were a few teething problems at the first couple of games, these were quickly rectified. 

Role in the community
As well as working in the media office, Jade detailed her role promoting the name of Ipswich Town in the local community. 
Jade explained that the Club managed to give a total of 430 hours to the local community last season, with only 20 of those hours working with the Charitable Trust.
The Club’s nominated charity this year is ‘Ormiston Children and Families Trust’ and the Club are working very closely to raise funds and awareness of this charity.  
Jade added that the players donate a substantial amount of their own money towards the gifts that are handed out to the hospitals and hospices over the Christmas period.  
It was made clear that the Club do everything possible to respond to every charity request, or raffle request that comes through via the post.  It was also mentioned that Club staff make every effort to respond to emails and letters from supporters on a range of issues. 
Steve pointed out that having worked in football from a media side for 30 years, most of that time ‘from the outside looking in’, that the staff at Portman Road go a lot further than other clubs do to respond to requests and questions from supporters. 

Intern of Ashe
Club secretary Sally Webb confirmed that the Club only has a very few plots left and it was felt appropriate that they should be left for ‘special cases’. 
The Club are going to consider having spaces near the touchlines though and Sally also said that if we couldn’t do the intern of the ashes, people could consider buying a brick in memory (located on the Sir Bobby Robson Stand).  It was asked if the Club could have a Memorial Garden like Leicester City have but Sally pointed out that Town do not have an exterior area for this.

Charitable Trust 
It was asked if the parting of the Club and the Charitable Trust would harm the role of Town in the community. 
Town joint MD Ian Milne commented that the Academy would be launching a new advanced coaching programme in January to replace the player development centres run by the Trust.  
It was also added that the Club are aiming to give every child in Suffolk the opportunity to be coached by someone from the Football Club. 
Ian added that the Club would not be competing with Inspire Suffolk as they will continue to expand with other sports.  Ian wished the Trust every success for the future and reiterated that the parting was mutual, as well as adding that the Club will continue to work actively in the community.

Fieldturf future
With the departure of the Charitable Trust, Ian confirmed that the fieldturf will continue to be used for community work.  The Academy, Ipswich Town women’s football team and ‘Fit Fans’ are continuing to use the facilities.  

Financial Fair Play 
Sally informed the group that there is lots of speculation out there as to any sanctions that may be imposed by the Football League and there are concerns that quite a few clubs will come down with their parachute payments and be able to spend more than other clubs who do not have this benefit and need to keep within a limited income.  Ian said that we will know more over the next few months and would update the Forum.

Distributors of matchday tickets
Lots of suggestions came from the Forum about purchasing tickets via local distributors.  It was agreed that the Club would look at various options. 

Any other business
It was asked if the Club could despatch the food that is not sold on a matchday to the homeless shelters.  Sally said unfortunately, due to Health and Safety the Club are not able to do this as it would potentially make Town liable if anyone was ill and felt the ‘left over’ food was responsible.


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