Chairman shares Town ticket fury

PUBLISHED: 15:58 16 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:21 03 March 2010

THE chairman of Ipswich Town Football Club, David Sheepshanks, has rounded on furious criticism over ticket allocation for the Blue's UEFA cup away tie with Inter Milan, saying he felt as frustrated as the fans.

THE chairman of Ipswich Town Football Club, David Sheepshanks, has rounded on furious criticism over ticket allocation for the Blue's UEFA cup away tie with Inter Milan, saying he felt as frustrated as the fans.

Speaking as the number of ticketless supporters likely to descend on Milan reached nearly 1,000 Mr Sheepshanks denied claims that the club had "seriously miscalculated" demand saying he had asked for more tickets but had been rebuffed by the Italian police.

Many dedicated fans had already booked flights and accommodation when they failed to get any of the 6,000 tickets Town had on sale.

Disappointment turned to anger as Blue's hit out at the way tickets for the crucial game had been allocated. They charged the club with cashing in on official trips, which had scooped half of the available tickets and which they claimed were more expensive than making travel arrangements independently, and demanded to know why away supporters had not been allocated more space at the ground.

Fan David Goodchild used the message board of the supporters website Those Were The Days to get in touch with people who were going to Milan without a ticket and was staggered to find that within 36 hours he had more than 800 names.

Meanwhile Mr Sheepshanks said that he was doing everything he could to get more space allocated to away supporters and would be taking the exceptional step of personally speaking to the President of Inter Milan by telephone today in a bid to have more tickets released.

It is believed that police in Milan are expecting only about 35,000 home fans to turn up at the stadium, which has a capacity of 80,000, leaving frustrated Blue's fans starring at empty seats while fellow supporters are forced to stay at home.

"I am immensely frustrated by the 6,000 cap on tickets that has been imposed on us," said Mr Sheepshanks.

"I, along with my colleagues, are doing everything possible to ask Inter Milan and the municipal authority to review the situation and release more tickets for the very clear demand we still have.

"I would like it to be possible for every single Ipswich Town fan who wants to go to be there but as it stands at the moment it appears that may be difficult."

Town was initially allocated only 3,000 tickets, which was subsequently raised to 6,000. Mr Sheepshanks added that police in Italy had raised concerns about allowing large numbers of English fans into Milan and that despite the club's "strenuous" efforts to convince the authorities otherwise there were "no grounds for optimism" on the likelihood of more tickets being allocated.

The San Siro stadium is controlled by municipal authorities and shared between Inter Milan and AC Milan so additional ticket allocation was the not the gift solely of the president of Inter Milan, he added.

He believed that the club's official package, which includes a match ticket, while not necessarily the cheapest was "competitive" and that if fans decided to make their own arrangements it was no longer the club's responsibility.

Mr Goodchild of East End Lane, East Bergholt, said that he planned to provide the club with details of people, which he expected to number around 1,000, set to travel to Milan without tickets. He hoped the information would not only drive home the reality of the situation for the club but also improve safety for the large numbers of fans determined to hunt for tickets once they had arrived in Italy.

"It's not a hooligan element we are talking about. Most of these people are season ticket holders or Portman Plus holders who just haven't been able to get tickets," said the 36-year-old sales manager.

"Fans will be all round the ground in different places. People get tense and upset at football games and there can be trouble spots.

"What I'm trying to do is get everybody who is going together – it's a safety in numbers thing,"

Season ticket holder Martin Taylor, 36, of Randall Close, Kesgrave, took issue with the view expressed by Italian police.

"Fans like myself who have already booked accommodation and flights will be going across anyway. As soon as we get there we will be looking for tickets, we will be all over the place, and the police won't have any control."

Editor of Those Were The Days online fanzine Philip Ham said that he believed the number of people travelling to Milan without a ticket could reach thousands.

He said: "I think the club have made a massive miscalculation which would cost a lot of fans money in flights and hotels they are not going to use.

"San Siro is the Wembley of Italy if you like. The last time we played in Milan was 1962 it was inevitable there was going to be an enormous uptake on it.

He added: "The criticism that the club has been trying to make money out of official trips has been there throughout the European tour. Some people are saying that priority should have been given to people who went to Moscow and Helsingborg."


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