Going down to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1957 is bad enough, but to make things worse, it will not be an easy ride back up again. Veteran midfielder Cols Skuse has warned of the pitfalls that lie ahead, and that returning to the Championship will involve a lot of games and some hard graft.
Skuse explained to the local media that few clubs find the going easy and that the Blues going down will be a great incentive for other clubs to test their mettle against a big draw from the league above. ” We are under no illusions. We are not expecting to go into League One and bounce straight back. It is a gruelling league. You play a lot of games and it is not going to be easy.”
He is right of course. The fact that Coventry City are still down there and perhaps Sunderland too proves that this won’t be a walk in the park and perhaps the best we can hope for in our first season is a play-off place. Skuse continued, ” We’ll be the biggest scalp in the league for a team coming to Portman Road to play Ipswich. However, we want to get back as soon as possible. We don’t want to linger in League One. Our self-pride – our desire means, we want to get back in the Championship playing against good sides.”
Now I am quite sure that Skuse was not inferring that there aren’t any good sides in Division One because we know they exist, and our performances in the League Cup and FA Cup over the last few seasons confirm that we seriously struggle at this level too.
Today Ipswich reduced substantially season tickets for next term and with an expected shortfall of nine million quid, Town will need all the support they can get! And after that 10% cut of last summer, all adult tickets prices at Portman Road will be cut again by another 12.5% for next season; while tickets in the ground’s family enclosures have been reduced by a very tempting 15%!
Furthermore, the Blues have launched a ‘Town Targets’ project, which will see supporters receive a further 10% saving, assuming 12,000 season tickets get sold, then 15% for 13,000 and 20% for 14,000. Last time around Town sold 10,200 season tickets so they have a long way to go and remember that the cut-off point for those ‘early bird’ offers is currently May 6th – but that might change if sales have not been realised.
Skuse summed up the mood perfectly when he said, ” The least we can do for everyone is try our nuts off, finish as high in the table as possible then carry that momentum into next season. If we get off to a flyer next season this place will be rocking, selling out week in, week out.” And owner Marcus Evans has largely satisfied supporters with these new cost-saving schemes and how well season ticket renewal goes might just depend on how we end this season?
If manager Paul Lambert can get the players firing on all cylinders in the final few games, that in itself might be the incentive fans will need to put their hands in their wallets and purses again. It is not just about how Town performs next term but how we end this one?
F.W. editor of Vital Ipswich