Town have financial clout to compete

IPSWICH Town have the financial muscle to compete at the very top of the Championship next season, David Sheepshanks last night insisted.

Derek Davis

IPSWICH Town have the financial muscle to compete at the very top of the Championship next season, David Sheepshanks last night insisted.

The Blues chairman revealed Marcus Evans was prepared to back manager Jim Magilton with whatever it takes as they look to take on the wealthiest of the wealthy to win promotion.

Although Derby, and any two from Birmingham, Reading and Fulham, will come down with an £1million parachute payment, on top of the other £50m minimum they have made from being in the top flight, Sheepshanks is confident Town can compete.

There will also be at least another half a dozen Championships sides with serious millions to play with but Evans, who was listed as having a personal fortune of £200m in the latest Sunday Times Rich List, is ready to weigh in with more cash after an initial £12m investment into the squad.

Sheepshanks said: “Although the Championship will have three more well-funded teams coming down from the Premier League our new investment creates a different picture this time.

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“We are able to compete on a level footing and we have to buy wisely and use the money well but we can look foreword to the season with great optimism.

“Town supporters should be under no illusion that Marcus Evans intends to back a promotion-winning team.”

Having the money though is only half the battle and attracting the right players remains a challenge for Magilton, who is aiming high.

Aston Villa keeper Thomas Sorensen, Portsmouth's David Nugent and Fulham's Dejan Stefanovic, are just three of the Premier League players he has tried to sign.

Sheepshanks said: “In general, Championship teams can't buy Premiership players and it is not just about the money. It is because Premier League players don't want to drop to the Championship.

“That said, you will get players who are not playing regularly and want to may consider it as they see it as a longer-term step forward. We are certainly looking at players in the Premier League, among others.

“Although nothing is imminent the intention is to have the players signed in time for pre-season. Certainly we hope to have at least one in by the end of May and more in June.”

Outside the Premier League, Leicester City defender Gareth McAuley remains a top target, while Town are also tracking a defender currently playing abroad.

HOW THEY GOT RICHER

The Championship's top eight

1. West Brom - parachute payment

2. Stoke City - wealthy investor

3. Hull City - wealthy investor

4. Bristol City - wealthy investor

5. Crystal Palace - wealthy investor-parachute payment

6. Wolves - wealthy investor

7. Ipswich - wealthy investor

8. Sheffield United - parachute payment/wealthy investor