Time on Town's side to get right buyers

WITH no new takeover on the immediate horizon, Ipswich Town supporters will have to wait a little longer for the fresh investment that could catapult them into the Premiership.

By Derek Davis

WITH no new takeover on the immediate horizon, Ipswich Town supporters will have to wait a little longer for the fresh investment that could catapult them into the Premiership. Blues Chairman David Sheepshanks explains the board's strategy to Derek Davis

ANY deal to take the club forward would involve a massive investment in new shares and while David Sheepshanks would not go into figures, the amount needed would result in the club being under new ownership.

Sheepshanks said: “The reality is we are talking about a substantial majority. No one is going to value the club high enough to put enough money in for a minority shareholding to make a difference.

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“Therefore in order to bring in the substantial amount we want then we would advocate money for new shares. That way all the new money goes into working for the club and not paying off shareholders, and the vast majority of people would agree with that.

“That kind of deal would result in a person, or a group of people, having control of the club.”

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While that prospect fills many with the joys of anticipation, some supporters treat the move with trepidation. Sheepshanks understands their concerns but has outlined why they need to bite the bullet.

He said: “Some supporters have questioned whether we even need to change. I have spoken to supporters' club branches recently where there is very strong expression of support for our current make-up and our community focus.

“I know exactly what they mean and the reassurance I can give is that the directors on the board are in tune with his. All of us want to find a partner(s) that shares our values, in particular with regards to Ipswich Town's position within the community of Suffolk and indeed, the eastern region.

“The difficulty for the board is to balance the need for major financial resources with the requirement to maintain the community character of the club.”

Sheepshanks vowed that it would not be case of snapping the hand off the first person with a big enough wallet. The board are aware of Ipswich Town's tradition and while the club needs to move forward, Sheepshanks is anxious that supporters would be comfortable with who is at the helm.

However, the need to reduce the debt and have a serious cash injection is imperative if the club want to join the money-spinning Premiership.

Sheepshanks said: “If you read the tea leaves they tell you that football in this country is changing radically and it is becoming a big money game. “I don't want to see the nature of the club change and nor do any of the directors. What we do want to see is success on the field for the benefit of the supporters and the community.

“Success on the field is getting harder and the fairy tales are becoming more rare. The £11m parachute money is making competition very difficult.

“Also, managers, coaches and players are waking up to the psychological damage that relegation causes to teams and I have no doubt that Bryan Robson (of Sheffield United) Alan Pardew (Charlton Athletic) and Adie Boothroyd (Watford) will have their teams extremely well prepared and motivated.

“We have to reconcile that with the need to retain the community values and characteristics of the club and that is what I'm determined we will achieve.

“We have been looking to secure major investment in the club since the AGM last December and efforts have continued apace.

“Simultaneously we have been in discussion with our main lenders to secure a permanent solution to our debt and they have been extremely supportive and collaborative in backing our search for new investment.

“We are all looking for a simultaneous solution to both investment and resolving our long-term debt. One won't happen without the other, but this is not a short-term process.”

“The reason I'm confident is we have the support of the major lenders and they have confidence in the board's strategy, so that gives us time.

“We have no pressing need to have to sell players. On the contrary, the irony of the situation is that we have got the club into a position so we are stronger than we have been for many years.

“We are investing in new players on top of the ones we brought in last season and have no need to sell any players, while at the same time financing a loss-making business in this division.

“The accepted economic truth is that life in the Championship is a loss-making business. It only becomes a profit-making business if you have a fantastic cup run, you sell players or you get promoted.

“We can't budget for a cup run.

“We are trying not to sell players unless it is what the manager wants to do for strategic purposes. He will only sell a key player is if he feels he can use the money to get someone better.

“It is remarkable that we are in that position and it is only possible through the generosity of those who have invested in the club over the past 18 months and astute financial management.”

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