by Matt Stott
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
THEIR team may be languishing near the bottom of the league but well-behaved Blues fans are top of the table when it comes to match day discipline.
Only two Ipswich Town fans were arrested, both for public disorder, home and away last season – the fewest in the Championship and Premier League, according to new government figures.
In contrast, more Manchester United fans were snared by officers than any other club, with 148 supporters arrested.
Kyle Jennings, a committee member of the Spirit of 78 Town supporters’ club, said: “It may be helped that crowds aren’t as big as they once were but it’s a great credit to the club.
“They have worked hard to ensure Portman Road is a safe place with a great matchday experience both in and out of the ground.
“In the 60s, 70s and 80s there was a lot of crowd trouble and fighting but I haven’t seen trouble at Portman Road for a long time.
“The mentality is different nowadays. It is more of a family day out.”
Arrests made at Portman Road, within 24 hours either side of a match, have declined every year for the past three seasons.
In 2009/10, 14 arrests were made at home, which dropped to ten the following year and down to just two last season.
The figures also showed that Ipswich was one of only two clubs in the top two divisions – along with Hull – not to record any alcohol-related offences during the 2011/12 season.
And only one banning order was imposed on an Ipswich fan – compared to the 28 dished out to followers of Chelsea, the highest figure in the Premier League and Championship.
Liz Edwards, Ipswich Town Supporters Club chairman, said: “It’s not been a good time for Town fans who like statistics – our goals conceded tally makes grim reading, and the stats certainly do not lie.
“The news that Town are at least top of the league for fan behaviour is great. Last season we saw a huge reduction in arrests and banning orders, not just at Town but across football generally.
“For those of us who witnessed the 70s and 80s, it seems quite incredible that many Town home games have zero policing. Of course football should be a safe environment, and we should recognise that a huge amount of work goes on within the club to make sure that remains the case.”
Iain Ross, secretary of the Haverhill branch of the ITFC supporters’ club, said: “We have well-behaved fans but at the moment there isn’t much to get excited about.”
The Blues have seen their average league attendance steadily decrease for the last six seasons, dropping from 24,251 in 2005/06 to 16,872 this season.
Town chief executive Simon Clegg said: “You’ve been hearing me say that the table doesn’t lie for a number of weeks now. On this occasion however the table is something that everyone associated with the club should be incredibly proud of and demonstrates precisely why Portman Road is a great and safe environment for fans to watch Championship football.”
Chief Superintendent County Policing Command David Skevington said: “Words of advice are often publicised prior to the higher profile games advising fans that Suffolk Constabulary has a zero tolerance approach towards any anti-social behaviour and any form of violence.
“It would appear that the low number of arrests in the past year indicate that supporters are taking heed of this advice.”