The ‘new normal’ will be abnormal for a lot of season ticket holders, who have grown used to sitting in their favourite spot at Portman Road. The Coronavirus continues to play havoc with sport and football in particular, and the contingency plans to counter it are still very much in their infancy.
On the official Ipswich Town website, the club is asking for your help. Town are looking for feedback from season tickets holders, as the club begins the challenge of meeting the safety criteria outlined by the Government to enable supporters to return to Portman Road in October. At the moment, it is all about assembling those essential building blocks and discovering the best way forward and this is where supporters are asked to share their views and ideas.
The club has to meet the guidelines set out by the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and make the stadium COVID-19 secure, which is uppermost in peoples minds. The official website explains their thinking. A phased return is the most sensible option and this will mean strict social-distancing between supporters in seats and generally around the stadium; a one-way system to restrict face to face contact; avoidance of fans gathering in concourses; the possibility of staggered times of arrival to reduce queuing; a streamlined service of food and drink outlets and the use of hand-sanitiser stations on entry. This is an enormous task and a costly one as well and club secretary, Stuart Hayton, told the Club website that everything has to be managed very cautiously. “While the health and safety of all is our number one objective, we obviously want to get as many supporters into the stadium as possible so any information we can get from season tickets holders about who they sit with at the stadium; are they family members; are they in their social bubble; where would they prefer to sit if not in their allocated seat will help us going forward as well as the mode of transport to games. “
Hayton continued, “We are sending a survey to season ticket holders by email to ask for that feedback and will continue to communicate with supporters as we develop plans for the safe return of fans to Portman Road.”
Everyone wants Portman Road to be buzzing again but this will not come overnight. Who knows how long we will have to suffer all these inconveniences, and who knows if we will ever find a vaccine? For now, at least, let us just be grateful for the ‘new normal’ no matter how abnormal that might be.