Comment: Are Ipswich Town too tight?

SO another one’s got away.

After a brief flurry of excitement and anticipation at the prospect of Ipswich signing a young, hungry goalscorer, Charlie Austin has headed north to Turf Moor.

Presumably it came down to what in football is so coyly described as “personal terms.’’ In other words, what you and I would call wages, or salary. Town obviously didn’t come up with as good a deal as Burnley, so Austin will be scoring goals in claret and blue as opposed to blue and white.

Disappointing, isn’t it? And it’s not the first time it’s happened under the Evans-Clegg regime.

Last summer there was talk of Shaun Derry coming to Portman Road, but it didn’t work out. Instead, Derry signed for QPR, and no prizes for guessing where they are in the Championship. Heading for the Premier League, that’s where.

All Town fans can remember the apparent frustration of Roy Keane when, during interviews, he would say words to the effect of: “I identified my man, but the deal wasn’t done.’’ It didn’t take a genius to work out that what he meant was that the club didn’t come up with a good enough package to land the target.

Now we’ve missed out on a young player who seemed to fit the bill perfectly: 21 years old, plying his trade at a lower level, and ambitious to better himself.

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Perfect – except he’s signed for Burnley.

Yes, of course Burnley still have the significant financial advantage of the parachute payments. Sadly, ours ran out many years ago. But surely, if we’re ambitious for Premier League football, then we have to compete with clubs like them?

On the same theme, we run the risk of losing skipper David Norris to Portsmouth. It would certainly be ironic if Pompey, whose financial woes are well documented, landed our club captain because they offered a better deal.

If we are to be serious promotion candidates then we need players like Austin, Norris, and Derry. Owner Marcus Evans has consistently stated that his ambition for Ipswich Town Football Club is a return to the Premier League. To achieve that ambition, he has to spend serious money. His apparent caution is understandable to a certain extent, given the track record of his first two managers, Jim Magilton and Roy Keane, in the transfer market.

But Magilton and Keane have both gone, and new man Paul Jewell needs financial backing. No club wants to be held to ransom by excessive wage demands, but footballers’ salaries are what they are, and Ipswich Town need to compete. If we don’t, then thoughts of the Premier League are just pie in the sky.

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