Cash crisis could hit Academy

ACADEMY COLUMN: The well-known financial problems of Ipswich Town FC will inevitably filter down to the Academy operation in some way.

ACADEMY COLUMN: The well-known financial problems of Ipswich Town FC will inevitably filter down to the Academy operation in some way, writes David Vincent.

Academy director Bryan Klug is unsure where it will affect their work but admits it is a worry to him and his staff.

"The policy of the football club is not to make cuts on the Academy side and we are looking to carry on and go forward.

"We have worked very hard to get the Academy to the level we have and it would be a shame to lose it.

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"It would be helpful if we could look for friends of the Academy who can help in specific ways.

"We want to take a team of U14s up to Durham for a big Premier Academy league tournament at Easter but we need to find the money for the coach. It would be a shame for the kids to miss out.

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"We have set high standards and we got to keep it going. It is important for the future of this football club to keep the Academy going."

The Nike Premier Cup tournament is taking place at the new Sunderland training centre and 20 teams are involved, most from the Premiership and Ipswich have been invited too because of their Academy success.

Klug said: "Everything up there is paid for. This is an important tournament but unless we can find about £1,500 for the coach to get us up there and for the week, we will not be able to go."

Bryan himself and other Ipswich Town staff would be pleased to talk to anyone with ideas for helping the Academy operation.

The Academy season is heading towards the play-off phase for Ipswich Town's U19 and U17 teams.

Whatever happens in those games the Academy season has been a success, based on the number of teenagers who have gone on to appear in the first-team squad and reserve teams. These play-offs games will provide national U19 and U17 play-off champions eventually.

Ipswich took the national U17 title two years ago with the team that include Darren Bent, Darren Ambrose, Matt Bloomfield, Ian Westlake and Matt Richards defeating Newcastle United over a two-legged final.

Football can be a cruel game. Cultured defender Guy Bonwick, captain of that youth team, has seen his season wiped out by a catalogue of injuries and will be looking for a club in the summer.

Now he needs an operation for a hand injury that is preventing him playing and has twice broken his foot.

"It has been a nightmare," he said, "I've had three breaks in one season.

"I broke my foot in pre-season. When I came back I played six games and then in the seventh against Norwich, within two minutes I was taken out and it was broken again.

"Then recently my wrist was giving me some pain and I went for a scan and discovered it was broken. My foot is not right either.

"I have go to have an operation with the wrist pinned and a bone graft taken from my hip. I will have to be in a cast for four to six weeks and have a splint. All this and the club has told me I am not getting a contract. It is very disappointing.

"Now I have to consider my future, I could go to university, get fit and play part-time and work my way back up the ladder. Hopefully I will fill out a bit too.

"I have got my qualifications in business studies and geography and I am doing an AS in computers.

"The bottom has dropped out of football and there are going to be a a lot of people out of work in the summer. It could have been a great year for me. Other players have reached the first team, and I am pleased for them, but it seems as if circumstances have been against me.

"I have enjoyed my time at the club.

"The coaches have been great and the lads have been brilliant and I wish them all the success in the future.

"Realistically the season has gone for me and I will not play again till next season."

On Wednesday he was on the touchline as some of his Academy colleagues played for the Town reserve team against Wimbledon, while others had been training with Joe Royle's first team squad preparing for tomorrow's visit to Sheffield Wednesday.

From that same team, goalkeeper Darren Kelly and strikers Robert Dickinson and Steve Burton have already been released. Striker Steve Burton signed this week for home town club Doncaster Rovers, in the Conference, despite interest from several other clubs including Yeovil Town.

Others being released include defender Lee Beevers.

In these final weeks of the season both U19s and U17s will be well below their maximum age levels because of calls from older sides.

Tomorrow the U19s go to top-of-the-league Aston Villa with a young squad for one of their final league fixtures.

Last Friday the U19s went down 1-0 to Charlton Athletic in bizarre circumstances when a shot from Stuart Boardley entered the goal but was then ruled out by the referee who thought it had got there through a hole in the net. The Town players were convinced it was a valid goal and felt it was proved by the video.

Ken Goody said: "We have seen the video and it is clear. Stuart doesn't get a lot of goals so it is a shame for the lad. He was gutted."

There was a better performance and result for the U17s on Saturday, 4-0 over a strong Newcastle United, which was equivalent to the Geordies worst defeat of the season.

The Ipswich kids produced some sparkling football in the blustery conditions and with no U17 fixture on Saturday, some will be able to play up for the U19s if required.

It is still a very busy weekend for the club. On Sunday there are eight schoolboy games, home and away, against Millwall.

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