Rivals unite against play-off plans

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks stood shoulder to shoulder with his Norwich counterpart yesterday as the Football League all but abandoned plans to extend the play-off places down to eighth place.

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks stood shoulder to shoulder with his Norwich counterpart yesterday as the Football League all but abandoned plans to extend the play-off places down to eighth place.

Despite the fact that both Ipswich and their local rivals would have been involved this season - having finished seventh and eighth respectively - Canaries chief executive Neil Doncaster and Sheepshanks both spoke against the proposal at the Football League AGM at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium yesterday.

But it was not internal discussion which forced the play-off question off the agenda, but pressure from the Barclaycard Premiership and the FA, who both wrote to express their reservations.

The expansion of the end-of-season lottery had been proposed by Crystal Palace chief executive Phil Alexander, but the idea will now go on the back-burner for more consideration by the League board.


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Sheepshanks said: “The current system has worked for many years and although I don't say this very often, if it ain't broke don't fix it.”

Doncaster said the current system - where the teams who finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth play-off for a place in a winner-takes-all final, had been a “commercial success for many years” and should be kept in place.

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The League also deferred proposals to impose any sporting sanction upon clubs who go into administration.

Representatives from over 60 of the 72 member clubs voted on whether to deny promotion to clubs who go into administration, relegate them automatically for doing so, or deduct them points, but all these possible punishments will now be discussed at an EGM in September after opposition from First Division clubs.

The decision came on the day Burnley chairman Barry Kilby was critical of the way Town had been able to exit administration - having offered most creditors 5p in the pound - yet still beat their offer to defender Drissa Diallo, who agreed terms at Portman Road this week.

Kilny said: “We made our best offer, but Ipswich were in the hunt and, although he wanted to stay at Burnley, they offered better terms than we could.

“It does stick in the throat a little bit. They've paid some creditors just five per cent and now they're free and in the marketplace, whereas we're working through the ITV Digital crisis and there is a sense of injustice there.”

Teenagers Darren Bent and Matt Richards - both offered new deals by Town boss Joe Royle this week after interest from Southampton - have yet to make a decision as both are still on holiday.

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