Today the news came in that Ipswich have made two members of staff redundant, just before Christmas.
One being the head of conferencing and the other an IT manager. Apparently their responsibilities will be taken up by other members of staff in order to make the club more financially efficient.
Obviously it makes sense in any business to make staff redundant if their roles could be done by someone else. Additionally, we have to accept that football is a business and clubs are now operating as such. Any other business would not be criticised for making cuts at this time of year so why should a football club?
The problem that many fans have with the decision is that the club should not be run like a cold-hearted business. Many believe that the club should be run as a productive member of the local community that is only interested in doing what is best for the people of Ipswich.
After all, the club has been supported by those people for over 125 years and why should the club be located in Ipswich if they do not care about the community?
It has to be said that whilst the club does the occasional activity to help the local community they could do a lot more to get involved with the fans. A lot of smaller clubs have a much better relationship with their local people but it is a lot harder to establish that relationship once the fanbase gets over a certain level.
The other issue is that some fans find it hard to understand why the club are making two small earning members of staff redundant (I am guessing they are earning around £30,000 year) when they have under-performing players earning around £10,000 a week with no consequence for their poor performance. What makes it worse is that December is considered an awful time to make someone redundant; could the likes of Clegg and Evans have kept them on for a couple more months and maybe sacrificed a insignificant percentage of their own money?
First of all, the club does need to be run like a ruthless business if they want to succeed in the modern era of football. It certainly is not the fairest way of conducting themselves but the business world is one where nice guys finish last.
Whether their decision was morally right or wrong does not matter, if they find places to cut costs then it makes sense to do so as a business. The bottom line is; if the club is not interested in being competitive then they probably could afford to be a lot less ruthless, but then again they might not even be able to survive without acting like a business.
However, I do agree with those who state that the club could do a lot more to build up their relationship with the fans. I also believe that there are certain changes that they could make that would actually help them as a business.
Ticket prices are far too high and not versatile enough to reach everyone that they could. Most clubs offer packages where fans can buy groups of around five tickets at a slight discount, which grabs the attention of those who like going to a few games but cannot commit to a season ticket. Furthermore, the attendances at Portman Road are only going down but the prices are only going up. For me this is a clear sign that Ipswich need to reduce the price of their tickets.
Of course the argument against this is that the club would lose money if they did not charge the prices that they do but I disagree. If they made a reduction of 10-20% as well as offering more options then I am sure their attendances would increase by at least those amounts.
The club would not lose any money on the tickets, the atmosphere would improve and the club would even make more money through food and drink sales on match days.
In conclusion, the club was probably right to make the redundancies that they did but at the same time they could do a lot more to be a successful business as well as a successful member of the community.