Following the continued growing success of Ipswich Town Football Club over the last couple of years, businesses and the town have found fortunes off the back of the club’s success, with matchdays even outselling peak trading times such as Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Tom Cann investigates. 

Ipswich Town have been transformed into a side playing good football, entertaining performances and businesses have spoken of how they have benefitted as a result.

Before this, however, it was a really difficult time for the football club, going around two decades with very little to shout about.

No promotions, no silverware, three play-off finishes, and one relegation between 2002 and 2022 left the fans despondent and worried for the future of the football club.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Town have been on a meteoric rise since new owners came inIpswich Town have been on a meteoric rise since new owners came in (Image: Tom Cann)

Kieran McKenna, Mark Ashton, Gamechanger 20 Ltd and a special group of players changed all that though, gaining promotion in 2023 on April 29 against Exeter City from League One to go back to the second division.

Now, with just six games left to go of this season, Town sit top of the Championship with hopes of winning back-to-back promotions and making it to the Premier League, with Portman Road selling out every home game.

Over the last two seasons, the success of the club has had a heavy impact on the town and the community, boosting businesses despite the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis.

Daniel Lightfoot and Vanessa Clarke from The Greyhound in Ipswich, a popular pub with Ipswich fans, spoke about the “incredible” trade and footfall.

Ipswich Star: Vanessa Clarke and Daniel Lightfoot at The GreyhoundVanessa Clarke and Daniel Lightfoot at The Greyhound (Image: Tom Cann)

Ms Clarke said: “It’s incredible.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in terms of excitement of football fans on match days.

“The amount of staff we have to put on for match days now is incredible, just to be able to serve all customers quickly.”

Mr Lightfoot added: “We put systems in place for football days to be able to manage the amount of customers, but it keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Ipswich Star: The Greyhound on the day Ipswich Town won promotionThe Greyhound on the day Ipswich Town won promotion (Image: The Greyhound)

“I was here through the darker days of the club, and you could see the difference, people were looking bored and depressed reflecting on the state the club was in.

“You look back, there was no entertainment, it was shocking.

“These days, it is amazing.”

The Greyhound, along with many other pubs and bars in the town, broke their record sales the evening Town got promoted back to the Championship last year.

Ipswich Star: The Greyhound Pub in Ipswich on promotion dayThe Greyhound Pub in Ipswich on promotion day (Image: The Greyhound)

Ms Clarke added: “It was just ridiculous.

“We had empty barrels coming out of the cellar constantly, we had people helping out when they were off.”

Mr Lightfoot added: “Just couldn’t keep up.

“People were queueing out the door from around 10 in the morning. I’ve waited 20-odd years for that night to celebrate, and I spent an hour and a half washing glasses.”

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Town has had a huge influence on the town since their turn of fortunesIpswich Town has had a huge influence on the town since their turn of fortunes (Image: Tom Cann)

Season tickets at Ipswich Town have become more and more popular over the years as well, with a 62.4% increase over a five-year period for season ticket sales.

In the 2019/20 season, Town's first season in League One, 12,928 season tickets were sold for a 30,311 seater stadium.

After a one-year hiatus where people were not able to go and watch live sports due to the Coronavirus in 2020/21 season, the 12,928 figure rose to just 13,800 for the 2021/22 season.

This is just an increase of 6%.

It was during this season that Kieran McKenna took over as manager of the club, and the new ownership came in.

This is evident by the increase in season ticket sales for the 2022/23 promotion season, with more than 2,000 season tickets sold compared to the previous year.

There were over 17,000 season ticket holders for the second half of the season.

This season, for Town's return to the Championship, the early bird season ticket limit of 21,000 was met before the deadline, selling out of 'new' season tickets, with the window for season ticket sales closing a day earlier than planned.

This is the highest number of season tickets sold.

This compliments Town's average attendance figures throughout this season, boasting an average home crowd of 28,862 thus far.

That is bigger than six Premier League teams, including Crystal Palace, Fulham, Burnley, Brentford, Bournemouth and Luton Town.

This is the highest average attendance the club has had since the turn of the century, with 26,184 last years average, 21,779 in the 2021/22 season, 19,549 in 2019/20, the first season in League One, and 17,764, the season Town were last in the Championship in 2018/19.

Ipswich Star: Dan Palfrey, the director of the Ipswich Town FoundationDan Palfrey, the director of the Ipswich Town Foundation (Image: Tom Cann)

Dan Palfrey, director of the Ipswich Town Foundation, has said the community sits at the “heart of everything” the club do.

He said: “We’re an extension of the football club, using the power to make genuine differences in people’s lives in the community.

“You can feel across our programs that we run, the number of people interested in what we do.

“There was a buzz around the place, you go to a session and the football is all anyone wants to talk about, and that was really special to see.

Ipswich Star: Dan Palfrey at Portman RoadDan Palfrey at Portman Road (Image: Tom Cann)

“We’re there for the next generation of supporters, in previous years, it had been neglected.

“I went to a soccer school in Ipswich, and there were around 20 kids there, and every single one of them had a Town shirt on.

“In previous years, that would have been a Premier League team’s shirt.”

Mr Palfrey added that the impact he has seen from businesses in the town is huge, with more businesses wanting to work with the Foundation.

Ipswich Star: Ipswich Town Football Club won promotion to the Championship on April 29Ipswich Town Football Club won promotion to the Championship on April 29 (Image: Tom Cann)

He said: “It’s really powerful.

“I firmly believe that the success of Ipswich Town can only be a good thing for the town and Suffolk as a whole.

“But you flip it on its head, the community is so important for the football club, fans attend week in week out, whether we win, lose or draw, and it just creates a great atmosphere.”

Ipswich Star: Gareth Harper, owner of Bar Twenty OneGareth Harper, owner of Bar Twenty One (Image: Tom Cann)

Steven Wells, owner of the Shamrock, believes that Ipswich Town home matchdays are more important to businesses in the town centre than evenings such as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

He said: “I used to be involved in businesses being security, and Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve were the two busiest times of the year.

“Now, those days in the current era are not quite what they used to be, but they are still busy nights.

Ipswich Star: Frank McFadden, Steven Wells and Gus Chrysomalis, the team at Shamrock in IpswichFrank McFadden, Steven Wells and Gus Chrysomalis, the team at Shamrock in Ipswich (Image: Tom Cann)

“What Ipswich Town's games bring us, and there are many examples of this, where we are taking double or even triple the amount we would on Christmas or New Year's.

“For big games such as the Norwich game, it absolutely blows it apart.

“So, I would say that Ipswich Town is more important to us than peak trading times.”

Deni Allitt, manager of The Falcon in Ipswich, added: “There’s always a good atmosphere in here.

Ipswich Star: The team at Falcon pub all sporting the Ipswich Town home shirt.The team at Falcon pub all sporting the Ipswich Town home shirt. (Image: Deni Allitt)

“In the past, people would come in before games but there wasn’t the same atmosphere about it, but that has just grown and the atmosphere has improved.

“We get a full capacity at the Falcon every single game now and it is a more enjoyable experience for all.”

Owner of the Falcon, James Langan, added: “We’re seeing more families coming in now, which is great to see.”

Ipswich Star: James Langan, owner of The Falcon and The RailwayJames Langan, owner of The Falcon and The Railway (Image: Tom Cann)

“It’s always a good vibe in here, we have the jukebox playing with chants so people can get into the spirit of it, and then after fans can continue the party and enjoy being with each other.”

Mr Langan is also the owner of The Station Hotel, which is the designated away fan pub for those visiting Ipswich.

He said: “Being in the Championship brings more fans to the town, we knew that from last time we were in the division.

“It brings a massive boost to sales and the economy in Ipswich.”

Ipswich Star: James Langan, owner of The Falcon and The RailwayJames Langan, owner of The Falcon and The Railway (Image: Tom Cann)

Mr Langan said that trade had increased by around 40 to 50 per cent when it comes to Ipswich Town match days.

He finished: “The town at the moment is brilliant.

“Throughout the day, you can walk down the high street and there’s a buzz and I do think that’s because Town are doing really well, and that should be recognised the amount of money, interest and joy the football club is bringing to the town centre and the community.”