Ipswich ranked as one of the worst sporting towns in country latest ESPN survey

Ipswich Town's tough season in 2016/17 is believed to have contributed to the downturn in the survey

Ipswich Town's tough season in 2016/17 is believed to have contributed to the downturn in the survey. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich has been ranked 48th out of 49 towns and cities in the UK for sport in a latest survey – just 12 months after being named the top sporting town in East Anglia.

ActivIpswich helps those aged 45 and above get into sport and regular activity. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

ActivIpswich helps those aged 45 and above get into sport and regular activity. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

The annual Greatest Sporting City survey carried out by sports broadcaster ESPN and the University of Bath ranks 49 large towns and cities from a fan and public survey based on 12 areas.

Last year, Ipswich was ranked 36 and named as the top sporting town in East Anglia.

But just 12 months later, the 2017 survey results released this week have revealed that Ipswich has plummeted down to 48th, and been surpassed by Norwich as the top sporting location in the region scoring less than half Norwich’s total.

Director of Suffolk Sport, John Clough, said: “Given the nature of the survey, with its focus upon experiences of watching professional sports teams operating in the city or town, the results are not at all surprising – it was also only based upon the views of 73 people!

Plenty of sports sessions are laid on for youngsters during the school holidays. Picture: PHIL MORLE

Plenty of sports sessions are laid on for youngsters during the school holidays. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

“Community sports participation was only one of the factors looked at and was not given a high priority.


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“Ipswich, and Suffolk, promote a wide-range of opportunities for people to participate in sport and physical activity and it is this contribution to improving people’s health and wellbeing that should be the focus of our attention.”

The survey is measured on a host of criteria, including value for money at professional games, participation in sport, quality of venues, sporting history, economic impact, matchday atmosphere and club success.

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Choice of sports, fan satisfaction, transport links, community links and local talent are also factors.

The Tour of Britain is one high profile event to have graced Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

The Tour of Britain is one high profile event to have graced Suffolk. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town Football Club’s troubled season last year is believed to be among a number of reasons for the downturn in perception by fans – contributing significantly to the matchday atmosphere, value for money and club success categories, which together account for 38% of the town’s total score.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “It’s obviously disappointing to see Ipswich slip down the rankings but given the main changes from last year’s survey are in value for money and atmosphere it would seem the changes are a reflection on the disappointing season Ipswich Town experienced last year.

“However, we are delighted to see them start this campaign with a great win and hope it’s the start of great things to come.”

Despite the rating, some of the aspects highlighted for the town’s success last year are continuing.

Suffolk Saxons drew regular crowds at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Suffolk Saxons drew regular crowds at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Events such as parkrun, holiday sports activities by Ipswich Borough Council and the ActivIpswich project helping over 45s into activity have helped contribute to participation, while the return of the Tour of Britain and top badminton squad Suffolk Saxon’s regular games at the Corn Exchange have helped bring top level sport to the town.

Bryony Rudkin, Ipswich Borough Council portfolio holder for culture and leisure, said: “I am very surprised at the result of this survey of sport fans.

“Ipswich prides itself on being a town not just of avid spectators but of keen participators.

“Sport is really important to people in Ipswich, whether it’s watching Ipswich Town Football Club play or doing something themselves.

“We have a wide variety of sport – cycling continues to be really popular with the return of the popular Crafted Classique event this Saturday, August 12, the Ipswich Great East Run on 24 September, and the Great East Swim earlier in the year, plus we have great swimming facilities and we have got all sorts of different club sports.

“This summer as always we have huge range of of exciting activities at our sports centres and swimming pools.”

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