Blues chairman defends bonuses

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks last night launched a rigorous defence of his acceptance of a £25,000 bonus - at a time when the club is £33million in debt.

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks last night launched a rigorous defence of his acceptance of a £25,000 bonus - at a time when the club is £33million in debt.

The Blues supremo argued the award reflected the “exceptional performance” that has helped put the club in a better financial position.

But last night the Ipswich Town Independent Supporters Trust called on Mr Sheepshanks to hand back his money.

It claims the cash should either be invested in the club's academy or given to investors who lost out when the club went into administration in 2003.

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Colin Kreidewolf, secretary of the trust, said: “While we understand he has no legal obligation to repay this money, we feel he has a moral obligation. A lot of local businesses have lost out and a lot of supporters feel the club have let down the community.

“It doesn't seem right that he has been awarded this bonus in a year where the club hasn't performed that well on or off the pitch.”

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But Mr Sheepshanks criticised the trust for “mischief making” and said massive strides had been made in shoring up the club's financial position and the cash awards reflected this progress.

As well as giving an extra £25,000 to Mr Sheepshanks, the club's remuneration committee, headed by club director John Kerr, awarded bonuses of £46,000 to chief executive Derek Bowden, £10,000 to commercial director Andrew Goulborn and £23,000 to finance director Anna Hughes.

Mr Sheepshanks said: “Certain people have been bonused for an exceptional performance which has helped put the club in a better position.

“These are first rate professional people. If we want the club to go forward we need the best people working for us.

“I'm not a wealthy man of benefactor type wealth. I have, since the club got into difficulty, already invested £100,000 into the club.

“I have also taken a 50% cut in my salary for the past three-and-a-half years.

“I work most of the hours that God gives us. I have invested money and I continue to invest maximum time for the love of the club.”

Mr Sheepshanks refused to comment further on the issue of the bonus paid to him, saying it was a personal matter.

And he called for his acceptance of the payment to be put in context.

He said: “Financially, at long last, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel and we are talking about bonuses. I just hope we can get this into perspective.

“I took a lot of flak when things went wrong. As we all know, things go right or wrong on the pitch. I have taken responsibility for what went wrong years ago and I have taken responsibility for putting it right.”

But Mr Kreidewolf said there was a great deal concern about the issue among some supporters.

“The feedback we've had from members is that they were extremely surprised that Mr Sheepshanks has been awarded a bonus,” he said.

“It's only three years since we were in administration. We are just coming out and have nearly satisfied the requirements of the CVA.”

He added the trust had no problem with the target-related bonuses paid to Mr Bowden, Mr Goulborn and Ms Hughes as they were employed following the club's fall into administration.

But he questioned the award to Mr Sheepshanks, claiming he had played a part in the club's financial demise.

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