Disappointment for town fans
LESS than a year after Ipswich Town took 8,000 fans to Milan, a travel company couldn't find 50 who want to see the club play away in Yugoslavia.Now a special flight to Smederevo to see next week's second leg match between Sartid and Ipswich has been cancelled after only 49 fans put down £17 deposits for tickets on a plane which can carry 185.
LESS than a year after Ipswich Town took 8,000 fans to Milan, a travel company couldn't find 50 who want to see the club play away in Yugoslavia.
Now a special flight to Smederevo to see next week's second leg match between Sartid and Ipswich has been cancelled after only 49 fans put down £17 deposits for tickets on a plane which can carry 185.
Gary Ash, managing director of Sport Options which organised the tour, apologised to fans who had been let down and said they would get reduced rates for further trips if Ipswich get through.
"To make the decision to cancel has been heartbreaking. We've always had a great relationship with Ipswich supporters – they're some of our best and friendliest customers.
"But I don't know what's happened to them this year. Maybe they're more interested in trying to get promotion, or maybe there are too many games at the moment.
"It could be that Yugoslavia is not such an attractive location, it's only a few years ago that we were bombing it.
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"We're very, very disappointed to take the decision to cancel. It hasn't been taken easily, but we have a responsibility to our staff.
"If we run flights at only 25 per cent capacity, I won't be sitting here in the future. We were prepared to run the flight half full, but not with these numbers."
The club itself has organised several trips to Smederevo, which have all sold out, and it is aware that many fans are making their own way to Yugoslavia – including some who are driving on a round trip of more than 2,000 miles.
About 500 Town fans are expected to make the trip.
Tickets for the match itself have been sold through the club and will be available on the night – they cost between £3 and £4.
Town fan Garrick Fox, who is travelling on tour organised by local travel agent James Easter was worried about the lack of match tickets.
"The club say we will be able to buy them out there, but it is not good that you pay out £500 for a trip like this and don't know that you will be able to see the match," he said.
But a spokesman for Ipswich Town said the club had been assured there would be no problems for fans buying tickets on the night.
Mr Easter said he still had space on a tour he is arranging for the match.
"We're taking 40 people over there and organising a three-day tour staying in Croatia. We're using scheduled flights rather than chartering our own plane," he said.
Anyone who had booked with Travel Options and now needs to make other plans can contact Mr Easter at Travel Stop on Ipswich 832111.