Royle set to sign new deal

JOE Royle is today on the verge of signing a new Ipswich Town contract to keep him at the club until 2007, writes Derek Davis.The 54-year-old Blues boss confirmed that he had been in talks with the club regarding a new deal and said he envisaged no problems in accepting the offer.

JOE Royle is today on the verge of signing a new Ipswich Town contract to keep him at the club until 2007, writes Derek Davis.

The 54-year-old Blues boss confirmed that he had been in talks with the club regarding a new deal and said he envisaged no problems in accepting the offer.

He said: "I am very happy here at Ipswich Town and we are close to agreeing the new contract for myself, Willie Donachie and one or two other members of staff.

"There are some I's to be dotted and T's to be crossed but there are no financial problems. I appreciate I am lucky to be paid as much as I am doing what I enjoy in football but previous experiences have taught me just to check the finer details and I will let my advisers look over the contract before anything is signed."


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Royle was attending Emlyn Hughes' funeral yesterday and drove straight back to attend last night's AGM held at the Ipswich Regent and so has not yet finalised any new contract.

The former Oldham, Everton and Manchester City manager joined the Blues in October 2002 and after finishing seventh in his first season took Town to the play-offs last season, only to lose out to West Ham in the semi-finals.

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This season the Blues have lost just two games and are joint-top of the Championship, trailing Wigan on goal difference by just three goals.

Currently Royle's contract expires at the end of this season unless the Blues win promotion, in which case he would automatically have been offered a one-year extension.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks last night confirmed the board had backed the move to offer Royle a new deal.

Sheepshanks said: "Joe Royle and I are in discussion concerning an extension to his contract which I hope will be agreed shortly."

The Town chairman outlined the reasons why Town are keen on keeping Royle.

He said: "Our investment in Joe Royle, not forgetting Willie Donachie and our excellent staff and players, has restored our future in a most remarkable way, I would say virtually against all odds.

"In common with nearly every relegated club, and as a direct consequence of relegation, Joe has had to see most of our top stars of Premiership days sold, to re-inspire those that have stayed.

"He has had to carefully blood the young stars emerging from the Academy and wisely recruit five free transfers, encouraging and blending them into an effective winning Ipswich Town team once more, playing attractive attacking football in the best traditions of this club.

"In my opinion Joe is one of the best managers in English football. He joined us to lead us back to the Premiership and to lead us in the Premiership and that is just what I believe he will do."

Sheepshanks reaffirmed his statement to the EADT last month that it was not just Darren Bent who was not for sale in the January window and that Royle had been given money to bring in new signings.

He said: "As and when – or if – Joe may deem it necessary we now have limited funds available to strengthen the team. For all those who take to speculating the worst, the January window is highly unlikely to see any outward transfers. On the contrary, if we keep going as we are, an inward arrival or arrivals are likely."

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