January 28 2015 Latest news:
Friday, April 4, 2014
Ipswich Town chiefs came under fire last night after it emerged large numbers of fans could have been left more than £100 out of pocket amid confusion over season ticket renewals.
The club said there had been a “printing error” on season ticket renewal forms which may have resulted in fans unwittingly signing up to pay £10-per-month extra towards the club academy.
Portman Road bosses have apologised and said ticket holders can still opt out of the extra payment.
But fans remained angry over how the matter had been handled - with one describing it as a “PR own goal”.
Renewals for season ticket holders paying by direct debit are being processed automatically by the club for the first time this year after a new payment scheme was launched at the end of last season.
However it yesterday emerged that these fans are also being automatically opted in to the ITFC Academy Association Ramsey Friend contribution of £10 per month over a period of 12 months, with the club aiming to achieve top-level academy status.
The contribution comes with an offer - if Town win promotion next season (2014/15), those who sign up will get a free Premier League season ticket for 2015/16.
The offer was advertised with an application form in a season ticket brochure sent to season-ticket holders around a week ago.
But the club said it made a printing error which suggested that supporters wishing to sign up needed to tick a box, which should not have appeared on the direct debit renewal form.
It did correctly appear on non-season ticket holder application forms.
When the direct debit payment schedule was sent out, it was highlighted twice that supporters had to opt out of the offer.
Supporters have until April 17 to opt out, with the first payment due on May 1.
Ipswich Borough Council councillor Alasdair Ross said: “It seems to me this is certainly not the behaviour you would expect of your local football club.
“Disappointingly, it seems like another PR own goal from those who run the club.”
In a statement, the independent Ipswich Town 1st Supporters’ Trust said: “ITFC 1st has become aware that season ticket holders whose renewals have been processed automatically by the club, are having the £120 Academy Friend charge automatically added to their direct debits.
“The trust believes that this is totally unacceptable and it will be putting pressure on the club to ensure that only fans who have specifically opted in to this payment scheme are charged the extra £120 - rather than putting the onus on the season ticket holder to cancel it.
“We will be taking this issue up with the club at the earliest opportunity.
“We urge all members to check the amounts that the club are planning to deduct via direct debit, either by logging in to ITFC Direct and looking under “Purchase History”, by contacting the ticket office on 0844 801 1555, or by looking carefully at the letter, giving payment schedules, which we understand is being sent out to season ticket holders soon.”
Elizabeth Edwards, chairman of the Ipswich Town Supporters’ Club, said: “It is a great shame that this issue has taken focus away from the great work that the Academy is doing to help to secure the future of our club.
“Fan surveys (and a huge petition) demonstrated support for the investment to achieve Cat 1 Academy status, and many fans have already chosen to show that support financially.
“Surely there is no issue with all season-ticket holders being given every opportunity to support and make a real difference – though of course some will feel that this could have been achieved in a different way.”
An Ipswich Town spokesman said: “Many of our fans have been incredibly generous and continue to financially support the Ipswich Town academy by making payments including regular monthly donations to the academy.
“For those that have renewed their season ticket with us on an interest free monthly repayment basis, our direct debit payment schedule clearly sets out that if our fans do not wish to provide a donation to the academy and take up the chance of a ‘free’ season ticket if we are promoted to the Premier League next season, they can remove this donation by advising us and accordingly a revised payment schedule will be issued.”