Portman Road has joined Old Trafford and Anfield in being officially recognised as an asset to its local community.
Following a representation from Ipswich Town 1st, the independent Ipswich Town Supporters Trust, Ipswich Borough Council has agreed that Portman Road should be regarded as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), recognising its importance and status to the town and its people.
Colin Kreidewolf, the Secretary of Ipswich Town 1st, said “Supporters Trusts at Liverpool, Manchester United and Oxford United have recently been successful in having their club’s stadia recognised as ACVs, reflecting the value of those grounds to their respective local communities. Our view is that Portman Road is just as important to the people of Ipswich, and to Ipswich Town supporters generally, as Anfield is to the people of Liverpool. We’re delighted that the Borough Council agree – this is a fitting way to mark the 125th anniversary of Ipswich Town’s move to Portman Road on 1st October 1888”.
ACV status means that the ground cannot be sold without the local community being told about it, and being given the opportunity to bid for it themselves. The ground is owned by Ipswich Borough Council (IBC) and leased by the football club. Today’s announcement means that any future IBC administration would be required to consult the local community before selling Portman Road, and allow six months for the community to raise the money to buy it themselves.
Mr Kreidewolf added: “We appreciate that the current IBC administration have no desire to sell Portman Road, and are pleased to see it remaining in public ownership. Having ACV status means that any future administration at the council wouldn’t be able to change that situation without involving supporters and local people. It helps to safeguard the future of Portman Road as a part of the Ipswich community. We hope that the current owner of Ipswich Town will also recognise this as a positive move for the football club”.
Councillor David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council, said: “The current council administration has no intention of selling Portman Road. We are very happy to support listing Portman Road as an Asset of Community Value to give supporters the reassurance they need that ITFC will remain in the heart of Ipswich.”
Tom Hall, Head of England at Supporters Direct, the governing body for supporters’ trusts, said: “Ipswich Town 1st should be congratulated in their work to make sure that Portman Road takes its place alongside Old Trafford and Anfield, and the first two, Oxford United and Nuneaton Town, in having stadia successfully listed.
“We are seeing this trend escalate, and many more applications are being lodged from across the pyramid. This and all other successful listings are demonstrating that our view that clubs and their stadiums should be seen as community assets and not simply as part of an investment portfolio is being widely accepted.”
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Part 5 Chapter 3 of the Localism Act 2011 and the Assets of Community Value (England) Regulations 2012, were approved by resolution of both Houses and came into force in England on 21 September 2012. Since the scheme came into force over 360 Assets of Community Value have been listed, of which five – the Kassam Stadium (Oxford), Liberty Way (Nuneaton Town), Anfield (Liverpool), Old Trafford (Manchester United) and now Portman Road – apply to football grounds.
Assets of Community Value are designed to apply a ‘pause’ to any plans to sell land which is important to local communities, and to give those communities time to compile a bid to buy it themselves. More information can be found at the Locality website.
The bid to make Portman Road an Asset of Community Value was submitted by Ipswich Town 1st, the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust. Ipswich Town 1st is affiliated to Supporters Direct, an organization which promotes the value of supporter and community engagement in football.