Destruction derby on Sunday

DEFEAT by the old enemy is barely worth contemplating at the best of times but losing to Norwich on Sunday could precipitate a further dip in Town's future fortunes.

By Derek Davis

DEFEAT by the old enemy is barely worth contemplating at the best of times but losing to Norwich on Sunday could precipitate a further dip in Town's future fortunes.

With the club now £33m in debt after recording a further loss of £2.7m in the last financial year, promotion to the Premiership within the next two seasons is imperative and it is about to get even harder.

The teams that get promoted from this season will benefit by at least £50m for just one season in the Premiership.

Sunderland, the team who gained the least by moving up to the Premiership last season, made £17m followed by a further £3.5m parachute money for two seasons. But the clubs who go up next season will be guaranteed a minimum £30m income for one year followed by £10m a year for two years if they are relegated.

This obviously means the relegated clubs are in an even stronger position to be promoted quickly and thus dipping into the big pot again.

Most Read

While Ipswich fans are on the whole an optimistic, if accepting bunch, they are also usually realistic and they will recognise that the current gap between them and the play-off places is going to take some closing unless there is a real upturn in Town's performances.

There are also just five points separating them and the bottom three, so a loss on Sunday would see Town looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone, rather than sitting in mid-table comfort.

It is unlikely Town would go down, although not totally impossible,

Signs that some Ipswich fans are beginning to lose faith can be seen by the dip in attendances and concerns that this derby match won't be a sell-out only highlights that fact.

Failure to fill your ground for your biggest game of the regular season must send warning bells ringing.

There is disquiet at the bonuses paid to chairman David Sheepshanks (£25,000, taking his salary to £114,000) chief executive Derek Bowden (£46,000 to £214,000), commercial director Andrew Goulborn (£10,000 to £96,000) and finance director Anna Hughes (£23,000 to £87,000) when the club are still losing money and commercial activity was down 6.3% and retail revenue down 25%.

Of course that is mainly down to poor performance on the pitch but many fans are also concerned about the long-term make-up of the team.

It is possible that five of the starting line-up on Sunday will be loanees. The need for instant results means Jim Magilton cannot rely on bringing youngsters through or waiting until the transfer window reopens in January to buy players.

Gary Roberts may turn out to be a permanent signing but it is more than likely the other four will eventually return to their clubs.

The Blues board has targeted promotion before the end of next season, and while contingency plans are in place, the longer Town fail to make the next step the harder it will get.

If the club continues to give away almost 5% of the company to the banks, the less attractive it becomes to other investors.

Of course Magilton and his coaches are right when they say Sunday's game is mainly about the fans - you still only get three points for a win.

But every three points lost means the task becomes even more difficult.

Whether any of these concerns are addressed at the club's AGM on December 6 at Portman Road remains to be seen, as they are usually tame affairs.

It is more likely the fans' disquiet will be noticed by the ever increasing number of empty blue seats at future home games.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter