Sheepshanks: No sales needed

DESPITE posting a £2.7million loss, Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks today insisted: “There is no pressure, nor intention to sell any young stars in January, nor hopefully beyond."

By Mel Henderson

DESPITE posting a £2.7million loss, Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks today insisted: “There is no pressure, nor intention to sell any young stars in January, nor hopefully beyond.”

The loss in the 12 months to June 30 this year was revealed in the annual report and accounts

published today.

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That caused net liabilities to rise to almost £9.3m and the total debt to just over £36m, but shareholders were told in a letter from chairman Sheepshanks: “The headline loss disguises the progress that has been made towards stabilising our financial position.”

He also confirmed that supporters invested £1.46m over the last year, among them Peter Cohen, who contributed “a substantial six-figure sum” and whose appointment, announced yesterday, brings to 11 the number of directors at Portman Road.

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Sheepshanks warned at last year's AGM of a significant loss for the year ahead, but at least the figure dropped from £3.16m in 2005.

Players' wages were £500,000 above budget at £5.5m, the increase being funded by the sale of shares and convertible loan notes, while overheads were reduced by £173,000 due to improved cost control and a limited redundancy programme during the 2005 close season.

The chairman added: “What is encouraging is that we have again reported a positive EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxation,

depreciation and amortisation) this time of £318,000.”

Sheepshanks had some good news for supporters when he added: “Assuming attendances and commercial performance hold up, we are in a position for the second year running to be able to consider further player acquisitions rather than sales in the January window.

“There is no pressure nor intention to sell any of our young stars in January, nor hopefully beyond, although it is impossible to predict further forward.”

But the chairman added a note of caution on the subject of attendances, which he said were

currently below budget.

Season ticket sales are the main reason; while around 4,000 of last year's 18,842 season ticket holders voted with their feet and did not renew, only 1,200 new customers were attracted.

Sheepshanks warned: “Should current average attendances persist, combined with the detrimental knock-on effect on commercial income, then this may reduce our ability to further invest in the team.”

The report revealed that Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden were paid bonuses of £25,000 and £46,000 in the financial year, taking overall earnings, boosted by benefits and pension payments, to £114,000 and £214,000 respectively.

Directors' emoluments rose from £276,000 to £511,000, largely because the total earnings of sales and marketing director Andrew Goulborn (£96,000) and Anna Hughes (£87,000) were added to those of Sheepshanks and Bowden for the first time.

Sheepshanks said there was no undue pressure on manager Magilton to achieve miracles overnight and that the new, or revised, business plan took a longer-term view.

He added: “Looking forward, we are cautiously optimistic. The immense amount of work that has been undertaken in the last few years to turn the ship round is beginning to show results.”

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