Administrators answers

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks answered 20 of the 30 questions we posed to the administrators Deloitte and Touche – he combined two of the questions in a single answer.

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks answered 20 of the 30 questions we posed to the administrators Deloitte and Touche – he combined two of the questions in a single answer.

These are his replies, together with the 10 questions there was no answer to:

ES: How soon will there be a full meeting of creditors and how much longer will the administration process take?

DS: As Nick Dargan has announced, the administrators anticipate holding a formal meeting of creditors before the end of April. What I can say about the administration process is that there has genuinely been good progress made and we are hopeful that an end to this process is still possible in the second half of April.

ES: How many people from D & T are working at ITFC? How many have been involved and are there staff from London involved?

DS: At any one time there are three to five accountants from D & T at the club. They're mostly normally based in London. The nature of the specialised work they undertake takes them all over the country.

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ES: Who is paying the players this week – is it D & T? If so, how long has D&T been paying the bill and how is this going to be repaid?

DS: The club pays the players, as normal. ITFC pays all the bills. The reason we were put in the distressing position of having to sell Darren Ambrose and Herman Hreidarsson was because our cash position was such that we would have gone into the red.

Administrators are not allowed to run a company in the red. The cash generated by the player sales will hopefully be enough to enable the administrators to complete the restructuring of the club's long term finances.

ES: Who is setting the fees for player sales?

DS: Negotiation of fees depends on 'what people will pay'. It's no use setting a fee which no one will pay as I explained before bank balances don't wait!

ES: Who is negotiating with Le Pen, George and Sereni?

DS: All negotiations are an ongoing joint effort between the club and the administrator.

ES: Although the administrators were called in by ITFC and your role is on behalf of the club, are you as chairman or any of the directors having any say in how you are working towards a solution and had D & T worked on behalf of the club or any of its directors before administration was implemented?

DS: As the administrators announced at the beginning of this process, we are working closely together over the many complex issues that need to be addressed to secure a lasting solution for the club behind which everyone can unite and support.

ES: What duties are the senior staff – club chairman, CEO Derek Bowden, director of finance Mike Cooper, director of commercial affairs Paul Clouting – currently performing?

Are they working five days a week and are they still on the salaries they were on before administration?

DS: I think there is a big misunderstanding over the differentiation between the role of the administrators in a case such as ours and of the senior management.

The administrator has the ultimate legal responsibility for financial commitments.

However, in every other respect the club has to operate normally and the staff, management and infrastructure are still required to do that.

The workload of senior management is in fact doubled.

Not only do they do their day to day job but also all of the extra work, planning and implementation of the plans for the CVA, the new business plan and the refinancing of the club going forward.

It is a huge task but one which I'm confident we will achieve successfully.

ES: Why did Joe Royle have to pay for the team's hotel, yet the administrators bills appear to be taken care of and some D & T staff stayed at Hintlesham Hall – why there? Is there not a much cheaper alternative within walking distance of the ground?

DS: Unfortunately there was a misunderstanding by the hotel over the administrators guaranteed cheque, which Joe helped resolve until actual payment could be made the following day by the administrators.

Regarding the administrators accommodation, the rates that Deloitte & Touche have been charged are not the full published rates and compare well with those from other hotels in the region.

The administrators are working long anti-social hours and the hotel provides them with the flexibility they require regarding short notice access to rooms and support facilities.

ES: Over what period of time will cost savings guarantee the club's future?

DS: The steps that we are taking at the moment are designed to secure the club's long term future.

ES: Concerning former manager George Burley – have the administrators been in contact with him since arriving at Portman Road?

DS: As Nick Dargan has announced, the administrators have been in contact with all creditors.

ES: Are the administrators involved in the proposed ITFC share offer?

DS: No, the administrators are not directly involved in any future share issue and refinancing but they have a specific interest in its feasibility as it forms part of our future business plan. ITFC has a team of experts helping us to structure the refinancing plans.

ES: Do you welcome the possible formation of an Ipswich Town Supporters Trust, following a meeting planned in the town for early next month?

DS: Yes – I do welcome the formation of a Supporters Trust and hope they can assist in the raising of substantial funds for the club.

ES: Have you received any enquiries from parties interested in buying the club?

DS: As has been stated before, the purpose of the administration is to achieve a CVA and not for the sale or disposal of assets, i.e. not for the sale of the club. To my knowledge, there have been no such offers.

However, I would ask that anybody interested in investing in the club should write or contact me as others have already done.

I have a thick file of communication from interested parties and it is my intention that everybody interested in investing should have a chance to participate. The future of ITFC is paramount and the more funding we can raise the stronger the club can be.

ES: Have the Administrators discussed the possible purchase of the Portman Road ground with Ipswich Borough Council?

DS: Despite many requests we have always been informed that the ground is not available on freehold.

ES: Did the administrators know of the proposed cuts to the Ipswich Town Academy before you and chief executive Derek Bowden visited the Academy hierarchy? And as financial controllers of the club, what was the figure of the Academy cuts discussed before the visit?

DS: The Administrators are accountants; so having them in the building is like having a team of expert accountancy consultants working for you.

Of course we discuss budgets internally and it is the administrators job, while in post, to review our budgets and cost management on a regular basis. Happily they entirely support the club's view that the Academy is key to the club's future. The relatively modest economies to the Academy budget were agreed between us all.

ES: Have any other cuts been imposed, before or after the Evening Star's Academy revelations and are you happy that the £90,000 cuts subsequently confirmed by the club will not damage the Academy infrastructure?

DS: No further changes or cuts have been considered or imposed to the Academy.

ES: What steps are you taking to ensure that manager Joe Royle will still be in charge of the club next August?

DS: Joe Royle and I have an extremely good relationship. He signed a two and half-year contract and I am confident he will be here next season.

ES: What have you done to reassure staff at the club, many of whom are time servants who are scared and frightened for their future?

DS: The Administrator gave an address to staff at the outset. No guarantees could be made in this regard. However, because the club had already made a number of redundancies in early January 2003 and also pursued a policy of non-replacement of others who had left, no further redundancies were considered needed at this time and there have been no redundancies since the appointment of the administrators.

ES: A football match was held between members of the D& T staff and ITFC on Comic Relief Day. Was this considered best use of the Administrators time and the club's money in the present circumstances?

DS: The football match was Derek Bowden's idea to lift morale amongst staff and to facilitate the relationship between the Administrators and staff. It took approximately 2 hours on a Friday afternoon for which the club will not be charged by D&T. It raised £135 for Comic Relief.

Unanswered questions:

How much is the Deloitte & Touche bill today - March 27, 2003, including transport and hotel costs?

Will you be publishing a full list of your costs and expenses for the benefit of the creditors?

Why have you not been available to answer interim questions asked of you by The Evening Star on behalf of fans, shareholders and creditors?

Have you talked or written to, all of the clubs' creditors and do you yet know the club's true debt?

Do you yet know what percentage of the number of creditors will get paid?

Have you considered any other ways of raising money in the future?

What reason can you give for not keeping the fans, shareholders and creditors of ITFC fully up to date with your work via regular Press briefings?

Are you (D&T) or the club, or both parties, leading the player sales?

As financial controllers of the club, what was the figure of academy cuts discussed before the visit?

How many of the nine matches played since administration was implemented has Mr Dargan watched?

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