Chairman's patience plea

David Sheepshanks last night issued a plea to Blues fans to be patient and get behind Joe Royle and the players during the Championship clash with Luton at Portman Road tomorrow.

By Derek Davis

By Derek Davis

David Sheepshanks last night issued a plea to Blues fans to be patient and get behind Joe Royle and the players during the Championship clash with Luton at Portman Road tomorrow.

Discontentment with the manager and his team's performances has grown significantly during a spell where Town have won just one game in eight, five all season and 2-0 defeats by both Crystal Palace and Hull City have left them without any points so far over the holiday period.

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Sheepshanks, along with fellow director John Kerr, was at the KC Stadium on Wednesday night and is determined that his manager will have the resources to get in the players he needs during January.

The Town chairman is well aware of the supporters' disenchantment and moved to reassure fans and urged for their backing.

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He said: “Instead of the tense, even maybe hostile atmosphere that some may predict I ask that all Town fans get behind Joe Royle and the players. We are depleted, we cannot get reinforcements before next week and we have to go with what we have got and those who are fit.

“We have good players here who are doing their damnedest, a manager and coaches who are doing likewise and like all our fans love the club. So it is siege mentality time. Our strength is in our togetherness on and off the field and in the stands - our weakness is if we become divided and fractious.

“It has taken many months since the disappointments of last May but we are close to being able to provide Joe Royle and his players with greater resources with which they can restore first team fortunes. I am grateful for all fans support through this testing time.”

With the transfer window effectively opening on Wednesday when the FA and Football League offices open for business, a flurry of transfer activity is expected over the next few days.

Sheepshanks has assured supporters that Royle has cash to bring in reinforcements with a debt restructure adding a further £1.5m to his coffers, with much of his loan budget still unused from the previous window.

The extra money secured by the board after months of negotiating will ensure the club do not have to sell any of their rising stars, and instead the money raised will go to strengthening the squad.

That is turn could attract new investment for even more players if potential benefactors can see their money will be used for team building and not debt repayment.

Sheepshanks said: “When things go wrong for the team as they have been, I remember, as a fan myself, that it is all too easy for supporters to fall under the impression that nothing is happening, nothing is being done and therefore to become consumed by feelings of doom and gloom.

“Such a picture could not be further from the truth. I share all Town fans concerns and with fellow directors feel them just as deeply. Fortunes have got to change and change them we will. There is a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes. While the long-term outlook is bright with the immense promise of our young players, clearly there is a NOW problem that needs urgent address.

“I announced at the AGM that we were at an advanced stage of an arrangement with our three main lenders to reschedule debt service. This will have two big benefits for us:

Firstly a positive effect on team building in the years ahead by removing the financial need to sell players and secondly it will improve our ability to attract new investment into the club.

“Unfortunately these things cannot and do not happen overnight; such negotiations are protracted by their very nature. “However I am pleased to say that we now have agreement in principle and I am hopeful that all will be concluded in early January. We also have some limited but significant investment ready to come in as soon as the arrangement is completed.

With Nicky Forster being added to the striker injury list, which already comprises of Sam Parkin, Adam Proudlock, Darryl Knights and Billy Clarke - getting a goalscorer is top priority.

Getting a left back is also important with Jay McEveley back at Blackburn after a serious knee injury that will keep him out for most of the season, Richard Naylor is suspended for the trip to Stoke City, while Sito Castro is one booking away from another ban.

Sheepshanks said: “All being well we plan to secure the strikers and the defender that Joe Royle wants in the transfer window and we have also had an offer accepted by West Ham for Gavin Williams. We are in discussion over personal terms.

“New recruits are now essential given the appalling injuries we have sustained. At the beginning of the season we needed goal scorers and a left back and we signed them. We have been most unfortunate to lose Sam Parkin and Jay McEveley to long term injuries and now Forster again for a second time, not to mention the fact that Proudlock and our young Academy strikers Clarke and Knights are all injured as well.

“While we cannot guarantee results, we can influence performance and with new arrivals I would be confident of an upturn. The performances against Palace and Hull would have yielded different results had we not been so ineffective in front of goal.”

There is a possibility that Richard Naylor will be used as a striker in tomorrow's game with Luton alongside Danny Haynes or Dean Bowditch.

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