Blunt message for Town fans

IPSWICH Town bosses have issued a blunt message to die-hard North Stand fans: sit down or your section of the ground will be closed down!For years North Standers have been known for standing during matches - and at times it has appeared that officials have turned a blind eye to this.

IPSWICH Town bosses have issued a blunt message to die-hard North Stand fans: sit down or your section of the ground will be closed down!

For years North Standers have been known for standing during matches - and at times it has appeared that officials have turned a blind eye to this.

However club bosses have now been told by the Football Licencing Authority (FLA) that they must crack down on standing.

And if the problem persists part of the ground - almost certainly the lower tier of the North Stand - will be closed for part of the season.

Now the club has asked the police to help identify the ringleaders who will be given two verbal warnings and then face a ban from the ground.

"We shall be videoing the crowd and it will be fairly easy to identify those who are leading the standing - we accept that some people stand because it is the only way they can see the match," said a club spokesman.

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The FLA held a meeting with club officials and the police last week and outlined their new hardline approach.

"The club was left in no doubt that the FLA would not tolerate persistent standing and would face severe sanctions if this continued without any action being taken against the leaders," said Superintendent Carl Puiy from Suffolk police.

"We will be helping the club to identify these people and hope that the message will get across."

Star columnist and fanzine editor Philip Ham is a North Stand fan who was one of those standing on Saturday.

"I know the club is only doing this because it is the law. But in this case the law is an ass!

"The stewards were going around asking people to sit down, but as soon as they got half way up the aisle someone starts a chant of 'stand up if you hate the scum,' and everyone's up again."

In his column in the Star Mr Ham claimed the seats had melted in Saturday's heat and that they had been too dirty to sit on.

"That's absolute rubbish," the Town spokesman said - pointing out there were no problems with seats anywhere else in the ground.

FOOTBALL terracing was all but banned in Britain following the publication of the Taylor Report into football safety which followed the Hillsborough Disaster when 96 people died at the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest in 1989.

Just months after the disaster the Football Spectators Act was passed which created the Football Licencing Authority, reporting to the Home Office.

Clubs in the top two divisions were told to introduce all-seater stadiums by 1994-95 and those in the lower two divisions by 1999-2000.

Ipswich Town was among the first clubs to go all-seater - at the start of the 1992-93 season.

The Taylor Report said seating was the major way to eliminate safety hazards which led to the Hillsborough disaster. It also led to the end of perimeter fences and fixed segregation in football grounds across Britain.

The Football Trust was also set up with money levied from the Pools and Spot the Ball competitions to provide clubs with grants to help them bring their grounds up to standard.

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