It is all change at Portman Road and the new season will greet us with lots of surprises both good and bad. The good, is in the form of the impressive reduction in season tickets that will kick in next term and could get even better dependant on how many are sold.
The first target must be to surpass the 10,200 which were purchased last time. This would not normally be too easy to do when a club drops down a league but owner Marcus Evans has realised that the best way to reward fans for an abysmal campaign is to give them something to shout about, and cutting season ticket prices by 12.5 % is an admirable start – especially given the fact that there was a 10% reduction the season before as well.
I think the first aim on the owner’s mind was to reward the loyalty of its current season ticket holders and then hope that there might be a spin-off effect. He now seems to understand the importance of keeping supporters onside and this has a lot to do with his decision to keep manager Paul Lambert in the job for the foreseeable future. He surely sees the way supporters have taken to Lambert; which is the complete antithesis of the way they responded to Mick McCarthy – even though under his guidance, we were never really in danger of the drop.
The Paul Hurst experiment failed and Evans got that. When he employed Hurst it was with the intention of seeing the club play bright attractive football but in the end, there was very little to choose between the ‘Hurst Way’ or the ‘McCarthy Way.’ Both were destined to disappoint and so it was to prove.
If we exceed the number of season tickets sold last time around then there could be yet further price reductions to look forward to. If, for example, we were to hit in excess of 14,000 season ticket sales then we could expect a 20% reduction. It seems unlikely but the incentive is still there. Matchday prices have also been attractively cut too, with lower tier tickets now priced at just £23 throughout the stadium and the majority of upper tier tickets at £27! This is not a gimmick. Evans understands the need to keep supporters content because they are the very lifeblood of the club. Players and manager’s move on but supporters hopefully don’t and this is an ingenious way of sustaining their interest in the club.
And of course, there is yet more encouraging news if next season gets us back from whence we came. All supporters who purchased a season ticket for 2019/20 before the first day of the season, will have their ticket frozen at that price, should the Blues get promoted back to the Championship at the first time of asking.
The unwanted surprises will probably come in the form of the players who eventually leave us but as Paul Lambert said today, ” The only people who should be getting awards this season are the supporters. They are the ones that deserve it,” and ten of them have been invited to the ‘End-of-Season Dinner’ on Tuesday, the 7th of May!
Both Evans and Lambert have proved of late that action speaks much louder than words, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact their statements make when it comes to future season ticket sales, as we approach a new campaign, in an entirely different football environment.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich