Town's hotel bill criticised

By Jonathan BarnesA TEAM of administrators working to solve Ipswich Town's financial crisis have been staying at one of the region's most luxurious hotels.

By Jonathan Barnes

A TEAM of administrators working to solve Ipswich Town's financial crisis have been staying at one of the region's most luxurious hotels.

The Deloitte & Touche staff, who are bidding to clear the club's multi-million-pound debts, are being housed at the prestigious Hintlesham Hall hotel during their stay in Suffolk.

Rooms at the 16th Century mansion near Ipswich generally cost more than £100 a night for visitors, who enjoy its picturesque surroundings and plush furnishings.

Bosses at the Division One club are footing the bill, but claimed the group had negotiated a reduced corporate rate, which the East Anglian Daily Times understands to be about £88 a room a night.

They also claimed it compared favourably with prices at other hotels in the area.

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But fans of the crisis-stricken club expressed disbelief it could afford such accommodation for the financial experts, who are already charging thousands of pounds a week for their services.

Ipswich Town chief executive Derek Bowden assured fans last night money was not being wasted while the club was in administration.

He confirmed the administrators were staying at Hintlesham Hall, but denied suggestions the room bills far outstripped those at other hotels in the Ipswich area.

“They have been offered a very competitive corporate group booking rate which compares favourably with other local hotels,” said Mr Bowden in a statement.

“I can assure you that money is not being squandered during the administration period.”

The club's board called in accountants Deloitte & Touche last month as it faced up to spiralling debts and a multi-million-pound players' wage bill.

Led by Nick Dargan and Rob Harding, the administrators are hoping to secure a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) with the club's creditors.

The financial crisis was caused by lost revenue from Ipswich Town's relegation from the Premiership at the end of last season, high player wages and the transfer market crashing.

It is believed the administrators have been working on the club's stricken accounts both at the firm's HQ in London and at Portman Road, travelling between the two locations.

Fans of the club expressed outrage that Ipswich Town could be able to afford such luxurious accommodation for the administrators.

Phil Ham, editor of Those Were The Days fanzine, said: “This is hardly going to impress supporters - especially at a time when one of our most popular players (Darren Ambrose) has disappeared out of the door to appease the administrators.

“Deloitte & Touche don't come cheap - I hear the overall bill at Leicester was £1.2 million - and it doesn't come as a great surprise. But it doesn't seem the best use of the meagre funds the club has got.”

Hintlesham Hall is a Grade I-listed Elizabethan Manor House, situated in 175 acres of countryside close to Ipswich.

The four-star hotel has 33 bedrooms with suites of varying sizes and shapes and is furnished with fine fabrics, works of art and antiques. It hosts society events, weddings and major business conferences.

The complex also includes a golf course, a health club offering beauty treatments, a top restaurant and an award-winning wine cellar.

Standard prices range from £98 a night for single occupancy of a small double room to £375 a night (using weekend rates) for the most expensive suite.