Ipswich Town fan RUSSELL CLAYDON reveals the scandal of paying to watch the Blues when Premier League Norwich charge much less

IT WAS a startling admission from a player voted by our fans as the best we ever had.

After watching in horror as Ibrahima Sonko (the new Manuel Thetis without the flair?) produced two comedy moments to throw away another game, this time at Elland Road, what he said was painfully true.

Kevin ‘The Beat’ Beattie declared if he was a modern-day player at another club in this transfer window, he would rather stay put and play in the reserves than transfer to an Ipswich side staring down the barrel of relegation.

Yet here we were with fans demanding we bring in the cream to buy our way out of trouble. Reality check: All we’re likely to get is other people’s sour milk.

Mark my words, we are now ‘the last resort’ for players haggling for a move and don’t expect any quick business to be done by Paul Jewell as a result. And for the first time this season, I truly, truly believe we are heading down a division.

Teams that go on to win leagues grind out results late in matches, whereas teams that play well but then dig their own graves, well, they’re going to lie in them.

What has happened at this football club is criminal really. We have had a benefactor unwilling to show his face to the customers for four years promising a quick return to the Premier League. But instead, all his decisions and money have done is bankrolled misery and failure. Oh, and year-on-year season ticket hikes ‑ a scandalous £2.29 extra per match to watch Ipswich compared to Premier League Norwich, based on our “Great Offer Half Season Ticket Prices” (£27.08 compared to £24.79 for City’s 12/13).

And with league leaders West Ham next up on Tuesday at Portman Road (7.45pm) the horizon doesn’t look like clearing to blue skies.

I don’t advocate changing the manager but things must improve quickly. Performances have largely improved but the belief is still missing.

We need a centre-half more than ever right now but I will make a bold prediction: Tommy Smith is a leader of men and could be our captain for years to come; play him and watch him grow by bringing in someone else experienced alongside him. But throw him on the scrapheap, as a scapegoat for the defensive shambles, and he could be the next Wayne Brown...

We need characters and I think Smith can be one. Identify the others before the window shuts next week and get them on the pitch now, before it is too late.

nTHE following letter came in from Trevor Watkins, of Bury St Edmunds, who takes a different view on the manager situation: “I think that Jewell should go,” he wrote. “Neil Warnock got the sack and he is a far better manager. I reckon he could revitalize the team as he has had success in all the teams he has managed.”