Little romance for Town in cup

FORGET the romance, the harsh reality is the FA Cup is a necessary cash cow for Ipswich Town.Their fourth round tie at home to Sunderland will hardly set the pulse racing but Town bosses will be hoping fourth versus fifth in Division One will entice the television cameras.

FORGET the romance, the harsh reality is the FA Cup is a necessary cash cow for Ipswich Town.

Their fourth round tie at home to Sunderland will hardly set the pulse racing but Town bosses will be hoping fourth versus fifth in Division One will entice the television cameras.

The four live games shown each pay £265,000 while the highlights net £30,000.

Beating Derby County guaranteed £50,000 and progress to the fifth round will ensure another £25,000 in prize-money.


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The eventual FA Cup winners will be £2m better off while the runners-up will pocket £1m.

While facing Sunderland is marginally more exciting for the fans than the Rams in the last round, a lot more tickets are expected to sell than the 16,000 on Saturday – that gate is split 40/40 with Derby with the FA getting the rest.

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Blues boss Joe Royle was ever mindful of the cash but was thinking more about the fans.

He said: "We can't ask for anything more than being at home and at least it saves our supporters the big expense of going all the way to Sunderland."

Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy was equally unimpressed with the draw and added: "It is not ideal for our fans as it is such a long way to go. We know all about Ipswich and the game up here was the game of the season so far. Still we go there without any pressure with Ipswich expected to win at home."

This will be Marcus Stewart's first return since being sold to the Wearsiders for £2m last season and Royle appreciates what that means to Town fans.

He said: "Marcus was gone before I got here but he has always been a player I like. I know he is revered by the fans here because he is a goalscorer. We have been a bit shy in that department at times and he puts them away."

The £2.5m signing from Huddersfield netted 37 goals in 93 appearances for Ipswich, each followed by a verse of 'Walking in a Stewart Wonderland'.

He was in the Town side which lost to Sunderland three years ago in the FA Cup, also in the fourth round, when a single Daniele Dichio goal knocked them out.

But the Black Cats don't like Portman Road, losing on four of their past five trips and getting a tonking on their last visit.

Two Alun Armstrong goals, a spectacular effort by Finidi George and finishes from Thomas Gaardsoe and Jamie Clapham sent the Wearsiders packing.

Ipswich lost 3-2 in an epic encounter at the Stadium of Light in September in the league and will entertain the Black Cats again at Portman Road on April 12.

Despite signing Stewart and Tore Andre Flo, Sunderland could not find goals and Peter Reid was sacked. First Howard Wilkinson and then former Republic of Ireland manager McCarthy took over, but could not prevent them being relegated from the Premiership.

After a stuttering start, Sunderland have steadied themselves and are today in fourth place, one above Ipswich, in Division One.

They reached this stage of the competition with a Julio Arca goal beating Hartlepool in front of more than 40,000 at the Stadium of Light.

n Ipswich Town have arranged their fourth round FA Youth Cup tie at home to Sunderland for Wednesday, January 28 with a 7pm kick-off.

The match will prove a great occasion for many of the Town youngsters as it is a chance to play on the main pitch at Portman Road in front of a big crowd.

Town earned their home draw thanks to a thrilling 2-1 extra-time win at Leeds United's Elland Road in the third round on December 1.

Other interesting fourth round ties include Manchester United v Manchester City on January 13, Arsenal v Southampton on January 15 and Norwich City v Sheffield United on Tuesday, January 20.

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