Town dare not miss out on promotion next season

IT looks like being one of the most important seasons in the history of Ipswich Town.

Although not exactly promotion or bust it is still imperative that the Blues move significantly up the Championship table next term.

Manager Roy Keane has stressed the importance of making the most of a window of opportunity that presents itself over the next 12 months.

After 2010/11 it is going to become very difficult for established Championship clubs to gain promotion to the Premier League.

If it doesn’t happen for the Blues next term they may find the task becomes beyond them.

It was decided yesterday that clubs coming down from the top flight at the end of next season will receive a massive �48million in parachute payments spread over four years.

This will move the Premier League closer to becoming a closed shop with relegated clubs carrying all the financial aces over their rivals.

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Despite the financial clout that club owner Marcus Evans carries, Ipswich and their like could become becalmed in Championship football with the riches of the Premier League out of their reach unless they produce their own talent or buy exceedingly well.

Evans took over Ipswich with the sole intention of taking them into the upper echelons of the football world and to rub shoulders with the great and the good.

If it doesn’t happen next season he might have to reconsider his objectives – and if he was to pull out it would have drastic repercussions for the Portman Road-based club.

Evans has put his faith in Keane coming up with the goods in the final year of his contract, and the manager is well aware of what a big year it is for him as well as he looks to cement a managerial career and improve on a rather dismal 15th place this year.

“The new agreement will make it harder for Ipswich to gain promotion from 2011/12,” said Keane.

“But next season the Championship looks as though it will be more open than this year.

“We must look to take advantage of that.

“Of the relegated clubs, Portsmouth’s problems are well documented, Hull City have their own financial concerns and Burnley are set to work within a budget.

“At the start of the season just gone Newcastle and West Brom were always likely to be short-priced favourites to return to the top flight.

“Teams that come down next May will be an even bigger threat to the rest with money enough to sustain bigger player budgets than the rest.”

Leeds United and Norwich City have gained a place in the Championship from League One and like Leicester this term and Swansea the previous year have got the wherewithal to make an impact.

But Ipswich in 2010/11 will be competing on a more level playing field than they are possibly likely to find again.

Football League club chairman voted yesterday to increase parachute payments that currently stands at �16million a year over two years.

The new payments start from next season and are part of a package of solidarity payments from the Premier League to the Football League.

The payments amount to �16million for each of the first two seasons and �8million for each of the next two.

There is some financials gain for Ipswich with the new agreement seeing Championship clubs who do not get parachute payments receiving �2.3million a season – compared to between �0.75million and �1.4million currently.

The Premier League have been keen to push through the changes to satisfy a number of chairman of mid-ranking top-flight clubs who fear relegation would have a devastating financial effect.

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