£6m will buy you Ipswich Town

IPSWICH Town - yours for £6 million. That is the price chairman David Sheepshanks last night told potential investors they would need to pay to secure control of the Championship club.

By Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town - yours for £6 million.

That is the price chairman David Sheepshanks last night told potential investors they would need to pay to secure control of the Championship club.

There would be a couple of strings attached, not least satisfying major stakeholders that the new owners would be suitable and could guarantee the long term future of the club.

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Blues' chairman Sheepshanks last night made it clear he would happily step aside if the right buyers for the club could be found, and named the club's price and caveats.

He said: “If everybody were to convert their loan notes to shares, it would cost between £5m and £6m for someone to buy the majority of the club. That would also be providing that all the shareholders agreed to dis-supply the argument that they have to be bought out.

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“The £5m-£6m would buy new shares and give someone on paper 51%. That money would go into the club, which would be fantastic for the short term.

“However, the Board would probably also be looking for greater security than that and would be looking for the right long term future for Ipswich Town.

“It is not just about buying the shares but also about managing the club going forward, so they would need the business acumen to manage this multi-faceted business.

“It is also about having the ability to command the respect of bankers, major stakeholders and creditors, such as Norwich Union, the Bank of Scotland and Barclays.

“This current Board has those people's confidence and any destabilisation of that would be viewed with great concern.”

The club have raised £4.5m over the past three years from a share issue, loan notes and debentures but need more.

Sheepshanks denies people are ready to invest but not while he is at the helm, but is willing to listen to any genuine parties, if they exist.

He also dismisses claims that the current Board are obstructive to new investors. He said: “We have been looking for larger investors but we have not found anyone.

“The Board are in no way an obstacle to new investment. On the contrary, we are the catalyst to new investment.

“And, despite rumours, getting the full value of the loan notes turned into shares is not necessarily a condition of any sale.

“If we could wave a magic wand and could find the right type of investors, who had the club and the community ethos of the club at heart and the financial resources long term, then the Board would move over very quickly.

“We will open every door and carefully scrutinise any proposal.”

“We have seen every single person who has shown any interest in investing in past three years.

“We have actively pursued people who we thought might be the right people.”

Sheepshanks also dismissed fears that the club was in trouble financially, even though it will, as expected, announce a loss for the last financial year when the annual accounts are published next week.

He said: “We are not a club in crisis. We are constrained but we are in a reasonably sound position.

“We have a stable club, with lots of pluses, although the one area of weakness is we don't have a fairy Godmother or father. We do not have anyone with the type of wealth that can help us fulfil our potential.

“We have a number of irons in the fire, some warm, some cool, but in the meantime we continue to run the club as professionally as we can.”

And he once again denied the club were going to announce a further share issue.

He said: “We will not go for another share issue because we see that as a sticking plaster solution. It would not create enough money. It is the long term future of the club that we want to ensure.”

For full story - see today's EADT.

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