Defiant chairman hits back

DEFIANT David Sheepshanks last night empathised with disgruntled Blues' fans but offered hope for the club's future.The Ipswich Town chairman warned there is no magic wand but the club was heading in the right direction.

By Derek Davis

DEFIANT David Sheepshanks last night empathised with disgruntled Blues' fans but offered hope for the club's future.

The Ipswich Town chairman warned there is no magic wand but the club was heading in the right direction.

Sheepshanks was targeted by a section of supporters in the North Stand on Saturday, as Town slipped to a 1-0 loss against Watford and put in a poor performance.


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A group of around 60 stayed to hurl chants towards the Directors' Box but that dwindled to about 30 before they left under protest three-quarters of an hour later.

Other fans remonstrated with the demonstrators and a fist-fight broke out in the stand, with supporters keen to show their support to the club.

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The EADT understands that among the main group of agitators were 10 who have been in conflict with the club over other matters. Three have been banned at some time or other, while a further seven have received letters warning them of their conduct, all unrelated to the recent demonstrations.

The under-fire Sheepshanks, who was re-elected to the Board with a large majority a year ago, last night maintained his stance that he would stay at the helm and continue to try to steer the club forward.

Sheepshanks said: “I understand the frustrations of fans and, personally, I feel them just as deeply.

“The vast majority of supporters understand the reality of the situation and the consequences of having missed out on promotion last season.

“Neither my fellow directors, nor I, can wave a magic wand. Having said that, we have stabilised the economy of the club and we actively continue our efforts to substantially improve the financial capital of the club. Everything else is in place for a bright future.

“Speaking as a fan, I would want to know if there is hope. There is. We have every belief in Joe Royle, who has done a marvellous job to date. I am confident he will turn it around and that this group of players will gel into the better unit that we hope for and have come to expect.

“Meanwhile, there is, and remains, some limited scope for a further loan or loans.

“I am an Ipswich person, a Suffolk person, who cares passionately about our club and Saturday's chanting only strengthens my determination to see Ipswich Town rise again - and we will.”

Saturday's chants included the usual 'where's the money gone' and 'Sheepshanks out' during the game, which Royle felt had a detrimental effect to his team's performance.

Royle said: “There is a certain amount of aggression around the place. That is not having a go at the fans, because they are entitled to their say, but it is not as easy to play here as it was for us last season. So, we ended up looking strained and disjointed.

“I can understand the fans getting restless because I was not enjoying watching it either.”

While the club have actively sought fresh investment, no realistic alternative to the current Board of Directors, or chairman, have been put forward.

The club's current financial situation will be highlighted in the very near future, with the release of the annual accounts, and the annual general meeting is provisionally set for December 1.

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