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Ross: Ground Should Not Be Sold
Monday, 11th Mar 2013 16:53

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer’s suggestion that Ipswich Borough Council should sell Portman Road to the club in order to finance the compulsory purchase of waterfront land for redevelopment is “stupid and naïve”, according to Borough councillor and ITFC Supporters Trust committee member Alasdair Ross.

While the Blues own Portman Road's stands and other buildings, IBC own the land on which they are built with Town having signed a lease on the 8½ acre site in August 2001, the term lasting 125 years from the start of a previous agreement in June 1969.

Former Town chief executive Simon Clegg revealed to TWTD that in 2011, during a lengthy dispute relating a backdated rent rise, club owner Marcus Evans had had a bid to buy the stadium rebuffed by IBC.

Town’s offer, believed to be in the region of £1 million, was, Clegg said, a long way from IBC’s valuation: “I don’t really want to go into figures, but we did make a substantial offer to the council earlier in the year and they felt that the offer didn’t value the ground in the same way that they did. It is fair to say that there was some considerable distance between us.”

Now, MP Gummer says he believes the council should cash in on the ground in order to buy waterfront land close to Stoke Bridge for redevelopment: “I don’t want to tell the council what they should or should not sell, but we know the football club is keen to buy the freehold of Portman Road,” he told the Ipswich Star.

However, Labour councillor Ross says there is little to be gained from the sale with the current arrangement protecting Town from the sort of situations which have occurred at other clubs where grounds have been sold for development, in the case of Brighton with no new stadium in place.

“I think it’s rather stupid and naïve,” he told TWTD. “There’s no need to sell the ground, it’s of no benefit to Mr Evans the way we are to buy the ground.

“And with the council owning it we know the ground is secure. If Mr Evans were to sell the club in the future while owning the ground, who would own it then? The current situation is protection against anyone trying to develop the ground in the future.”

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Daleyitfc added 17:06 - Mar 11
"Stupid and naive" sums up Ben Gummer in most respects. And let's not forget "Gormless" (like his atrocious father).

Marshalls_Mullet added 17:14 - Mar 11
Its blatantly not worth much more than £1m.

I also dont think that 8 acres in a run down part of Ipswich would have the alternative use value to justify a move out of town.


Marcus added 17:18 - Mar 11
It's not just Gummer, those who voted for him need to share the responsibility for his actions.

Wickets added 17:19 - Mar 11
Yes i agree nothing for the football club to gain,at this time anyway,by the club buying the ground. Mr Evans might well have the best interest of the club but who knows what the future might bring maybe a future new owner might not. Best to stay as we are me thinks!!

jonwillpott added 17:38 - Mar 11
I would ask a very simple question of the posters above - have you really thought about this??? I don't think you have!!! The club is currently paying out silly money to a greedy council who have no say in the future of the club and are restricting any development our owner may or may not wish to undertake. Whatever your political views on Ben Gummer (which I respect) I believe he has the best interests of the club at heart. I believe that Marcus may well wish to move the stadium away from Portman Road if he owned the stadium but would this be a bad thing? A stadium out of the town centre could provide a much easier access for us fans....I find the current stadium a nightmare to get away from after games. I now live quite near to the ground but it can take anything up to an hour to get home which is ludicrous in what is a virtual gridlock week after week!!

itfcjoe added 17:45 - Mar 11

A greedy council? Our rent is about £100k a year - hardly extortionate when compared with other clubs, and we are allowed free reign with it for corporate facilities to recoup money etc.

Moving out of town would be a disaster. Access isn't much easier, where would this car park be that can house 17,000 fans - more if we were to ever be promoted. Access is easier for a conference but not a football match! Why would you knock down a perfectly good stadium which has serious excess capacity?!

NSL added 17:52 - Mar 11
Think we are pretty safe in any event, I cannot believe residential developers will be clambering over each other to get their hands on this crappy old bit of Ipswich - they can't even shift the houses in half-decent areas - such as the waterfront, let alone the red light district.

RegencyBlue added 17:58 - Mar 11
I think Gummer was fed rather too many of those BSE burgers by his old man!

Marshalls_Mullet added 18:00 - Mar 11

The rent was revised in line with the terms of the lease that ITFC agreed to.

In the scheme of things £100,000 doesnt seem extortionate. You would probably pay more than that for 8 acres of hardstanding in a town centre location.

Have you ANY idea how much it costs to build a new stadium??

Do you really want to write off the c.£20m spent on building the new stands 10 years ago??

I am very pleased you are not in charge.

Go and have a think about what you have written.

BasingstokeBranch added 18:16 - Mar 11
'Best interests of the Club at heart'???

The only interests that Gummer has at heart are his own - gentrifying the town's waterfront to increase his traditional Tory voter base.

Don't be fooled into thinking anything else!

Marshalls_Mullet added 18:18 - Mar 11
What on earth does this MP think can be acheived at the waterfront for c.£1m??


Marshalls_Mullet added 18:19 - Mar 11
c'mon then amuse me.... whats the minus for on my original post?

Bobby_Petta added 18:27 - Mar 11
I think it would be a good idea if the club owned the ground, if they could get it at a decent price. It might only be £100,000 at the moment but what is there stopping the council putting up the rent again in future, with all the cuts they are having to make, they may see putting up the rent a easy way of increasing there budget. In the long term there would be big savings to made. Most clubs own the land like the scum, Delia owns the hotels etc as well.

bournemouthblue added 18:29 - Mar 11
He's in favour of spunking £1 million to tear down the wine rack just so it's a prettier space for people who live there. You can't tell me that's not a waste of money?

Marshalls_Mullet added 18:30 - Mar 11
@bobby petta

Q. Whats stopping the council putting the rent up?

A. The lease they entered into with ITFC, thats what. The rent will be reviewed in probably 5 or 10 year cycles, and there will be a review mechanism that guides what the new rent should be. This is likely to be in line with the market. Unless there is a link to RPI, I cant see the market taking the rent up in the near future.



Lanky added 18:31 - Mar 11
The reasons behind Evans' ownership has never been that waterproof, so selling the ground to the man could potentially be a disaster. Gummer clearly just as out of touch on ITFC as he is everything else.

Think about this on polling day in 2015...

Cheshire_Blue added 18:31 - Mar 11
This MP likes nothing better than seeking publicity for himself. Empty vessels make the most noise.

Marshalls_Mullet added 18:34 - Mar 11
For those who think that we will move out of town;

What do you think would make a move out of town financially viable?

La_Paz added 18:55 - Mar 11
Thanks Alasdair Ross for speaking up on this issue. The history, traditions and future survival of the club are worth more to the community than just another quick buck for the developers. What a shame that the local parliamentary representative cannot stand up for his constituents on such an important issue.

Marshalls_Mullet added 18:59 - Mar 11
The solution;

ITFC pay IBC £1m to re-gear / vary the lease terms.

i.e. For a payment of c.£1m from ITFC, IBC will agree to vary the lease terms so that the rent is £1 (One pound), for the remainder of the lease.

Therefore IBC have a capital receipt and ITFC no longer have the payment of £100,000 going out of their account each year.

Job done, everyone is happy, including the fans as the future of the site is safe guarded.


Mark added 19:25 - Mar 11
A Conservative MP wanting to 'cash in' on something, what a surprise! NO, NO, NO! The Council owning the ground gives a security that an investor can't liquidate the club and sell the assets. We don't know what will happen in the future, so I'd much rather the ground remains in the ownership of Ipswich Borough Council for the people rather than be in the hands of the owner or future owner of ITFC for business interests.

Marshalls_Mullet added 19:26 - Mar 11

See my post above yours.

Mark added 20:02 - Mar 11

I don't think your proposal makes sense for IBC. If they are set to get £100K a year for the next 81 years (£8.1M), why would they sell that for £1M?

Let's just keep the ownership with IBC. It keeps the ground safe for ITFC fans and provides some useful income for IBC.

Marshalls_Mullet added 20:12 - Mar 11

On a rough basis, the market value of the right to receive £100k per annum would probably be worth c.£1m.

This is because it would be capitalised at a yield of c.10%, ,maybe 8% at a push which would make it £1.25m.

Trust me, the value of the investment is c.£1-1.25m.

Its a sensible and commercial solution.

carlisleaway added 20:22 - Mar 11
I agree with Mullet, who is to say that Evans would not sell the ground for a profit. Take a look at his recent company profits, or lack of.....

At least with the IBC owning the ground, the club is safe for any future owners completely taking full control of the club. With an 85% stake at the moment, that is more than enough but at least he has not got full control of the land.

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