Keane wins over fans at AGM

IPSWICH Town may find it difficult to hold on to some of their more experienced players.

So said manager Roy Keane and chief executive Simon Clegg at last night’s Ipswich Town PLC annual general meeting held at the Sir Bobby Robson Suite at Portman Road.

Several hundred shareholders out of the 3,000 in the PLC, which owns 12.5% of the club since Marcus Evans’s takeover in December 2007, attended the meeting.

Although not obliged to be at the meeting, Keane was his usual honest self in answering questions and more than once his replies were greeted with warm applause.

When asked whether it was wise to have six young loan players on the books, he replied: “It can be a gamble, but it’s a gamble worth taking.

“More senior players will not move to somewhere like Ipswich, and there are some loans that cost clubs �1million to have a player for a season on top of wages.

“I spoke to three senior players in the summer and they were free signings, but it was decided, and I went along with it that with the money the owner had spent we would go for a smaller squad.

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“But with that policy you need luck with injuries, and we have not had that.

“Hopefully in January we can hold on to the Gareth McAuley’s, David Norris’ and Connor Wickham’s, but if big clubs out there want a player there is often no stopping them.”

Clegg confirmed that he has started talks with players whose contracts end next summer, and he added: “The owner, Roy and myself are in tune on who we want to keep and talks are going well, but if it comes to certain wage demands it might present a problem in the current financial climate.”

Evans’ company representative on the PLC board – Martin Pitcher – said that the owner was putting between �5 and �6 million into the club each year on top of what he provides towards buying players and paying their wages.

“And in the current environment I cannot see that deficit being controlled particularly with attendance figures dropping.”

And Clegg confirmed Evans continuing desire to see Ipswich do well.

“Marcus has not wavered one iota from his determination to take Ipswich Town to the Premier League.

“And we must not lose sight of the fact that we would not be able operate like we do without the day-in, day-out support of the owner.

“The current slump in form is hurting everybody, but we are not half way through the season and the play-offs are still within our grasp.”

Keane looked at the seven players missing on Saturday from the opening day win at Middlesbrough and stressed that with a full strength side his team is capable of competing with the best in the Championship.

“At the moment we are so na�ve it’s untrue,” said Keane. “I have honest lads but a young team and they are making individual errors and we have to get through this pain.

“Connor Wickham, who we all want to keep but there is a price on every player’s head with Wayne Rooney leaving Everton at 18 for �28million, Tommy Smith and Luke Hyam will become top players but it takes time - in Connor’s case perhaps another eight years before he reaches his peak.

“I don’t think I’ve spent more than previous managers at this club and with players like Lee Martin we are still waiting for them to produce.

“Fans should not worry about me – I might go next week or next summer, but if I do I will have no regrets about joining Ipswich.

“We only need a bit of luck.”

Clegg was elected to the PLC board a year ago with David Sheepshanks, who remains the PLC chairman, being re-elected along with director Richard Moore.

Town made a loss of �14.18 million in the accounting year to June 2010 on ordinary activities before taxation. The equivalent figure the previous year – Evans’s first full year - was �12.67 million.

Player and coaching staff costs rose from �12.03 million to �13.45 million with overall staff costs were up to �17.05 million from �16.10 million, which is 108.1% of turnover, compared with 109.9% the previous year.

Turnover was up from �14.66 million to �15.77 million with commercial income down from �6.02 million to �5.4 million and income from the Football League, including TV and radio fees, up to �4.01 million from �1.94 million. Gate receipts were down from �6.70 million to �6.36 million.

The club’s direct costs were up from �18.7 million to �19.4 million due to additional player wages. Administrative costs were down �600,000.

Town skipper David Norris and midfielder Jack Colback will be the guests at the London Branch of the Supporters Club’s annual general meeting tonight at Hemingways Wine Bar from 6.30pm with the meeting starting at 7.30pm.

Former player Simon Milton will join the pair for a question and answer session, while there will be also be an auction of Town memorabilia.

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