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Blues stars asked to take pay cut

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 March 2010

CASH-strapped Ipswich Town have asked all their staff - including players - to take a pay cut for the next few months, The Evening Star reveals today.

The club is introducing a pay referral scheme - between two and ten per cent of salaries - in an attempt to staunch its losses after relegation.

CASH-strapped Ipswich Town have asked all their staff – including players – to take a pay cut for the next few months, The Evening Star reveals today.

The club is introducing a pay referral scheme – between two and ten per cent of salaries – in an attempt to staunch its losses after relegation.

The Star understands that club chairman David Sheepshanks, manager George Burley, new chief executive Derek Bowden and a number of players have led the way.

Some will notice a significant fall in how much they take home.

The scheme was explained in a sombre but realistic meeting attended by all staff and players.

The scheme is voluntary, but staff – especially high-earning players – are coming under pressure to agree to it.

Those who agree will see part of their wages held back, to be given to them as a lump sum next August.

By that time the club will either be back in the Premiership and getting a television bonanza from Sky, or it will be still in the Nationwide League and selling players to raise the cash.

The scheme has been introduced as the club struggles to bring down its costs after relegation from the Premiership last year.

Most of its players are still on Premiership salaries – some earn as much as £22,000 a week.

That has opened up a cash hole of about £13million, which the directors had been hoping to fill with transfer cash.

However, only Titus Bramble and Marcus Stewart left the club before the closing of the transfer window at the end of August, and their sales brought in just £6m.

Town stars Matt Holland and Hermann Hreidarrson rejected moves to the west midlands – and Marcus Bent refused to go on long-term loan to Birmingham, which would have saved Ipswich Town his wage costs for several months.

How much the scheme might save is unclear. Last year the club reported that during the financial year 2000-2001 its wage costs doubled from £8.5m to £17.6m.

Since then they are believed to have increased again significantly with the addition of new players like Finidi George, Matteo Sereni – now back in Italy on loan – and Marcus Bent.

Other players were believed to have been paid extra bonuses at the end of the first year in the Premiership because of the club's qualification for the UEFA Cup.

High wage-earners at the club are being encouraged to put 10pc of their salaries into the cash referral scheme. Those on lower salaries are being asked for 2pc.

A senior player said today: "We have received the forms about the scheme and are all deciding what we should do ourselves, it isn't something we are discussing with each other and I haven't any idea what other people are doing."

However even if the entire workforce at Portman Road agree to it – and it is entirely voluntary – the scheme would be unlikely to save more than £1m.

That would be welcomed by the bankers, but would still leave the club looking for significant other savings.

As Ipswich Town's financial crisis hit its staff, Sunday's derby opponents Norwich City announced their cash crisis had been eased after a share sale has brought in more than £2m.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks would not talk about the scheme today but sources at the club said there had been a terrific response – and it had been the single biggest factor "pulling together" the entire workforce since the current financial plight was revealed by The Evening Star last month.

The club is understood not to be making a statement because the decision affects people's salaries.

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