Help Blues ease the squeeze
TOWN fans look set to be given the chance to help ease the football club's cash crisis after the collapse of attempts to sell Ipswich's star players.The financial squeeze at Portman Road is set to prompt the board to offer new shares to fans – which could help ease the club's financial headache.
By Paul Geater
TOWN fans look set to be given the chance to help ease the football club's cash crisis after the collapse of attempts to sell Ipswich's star players.
The financial squeeze at Portman Road is set to prompt the board to offer new shares to fans – which could help ease the club's financial headache.
The proposal is to be discussed with existing club shareholders within the next month or so – and details of such a scheme could be published during the autumn.
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Players and other staff at the club would be expected to buy shares to show their commitment to Portman Road.
Near-neighbours and arch rivals Norwich City have so far raised £1.5 million in a share issue launched at the end of last season – and the offer is to remain open until the end of next month.
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North stander Tim Foster wrote to The Evening Star suggesting that up to £5 million could be raised.
That is well under the estimated £13 million that the club needs to raise – but it's as much as would be saved by the sale of Matt Holland for £4 million and the elimination of his salary from the wage bill.
"Now is the time to raise cash from other sources ie. a share issue," said Mr Foster.
"Assuming £5m is needed, 10,000 fans buying £500 each (or 20,000 at £250 each) would achieve this.
"Of course in practice many cannot afford these sums, but others can afford considerably more.
"Given the size of our fan base, and in particular with more than 27,000 attending last Sunday, surely this is realistically achievable.
"In return for our money all most fans would ask is that Matt is not sold, the pleasure of seeing us march back into the Premiership being sufficient."
Mr Foster also contacted the football club with his suggestion – and Mr Sheepshanks wrote back to say the proposal was under consideration.
Now the chairman has gone further to outline the proposals.
"We were hopeful that we would be able to deal with our deficit through player transfers but we are now working on that (the share proposal) but I can't, at this stage, give any further details," he said.
"But we will be bringing a proposal forward to our shareholders in the next month or so.
"At this time it is not clear how much money has been raised by Norwich, but I think we have to get these schemes into perspective as to how much they normally raise,
"I don't think such a scheme on its own would be the solution, but it could make an important contribution."
Mr Foster, who works for Ipswich insurance brokers PoundGates, said he would be prepared to buy shares in the club, and had originally suggested widening the share base when the club was relegated back in 1996.
"I wrote to them then suggesting it would be a way to ease financial problems – and when this current problem arose, my wife suggested I contact them again," he said.
Mr Sheepshanks said the club had been keen to bring in money from the sale of players to ease its financial difficulties.
It was still possible that there could be departures before the August 31 transfer deadline – but the failure to make a sale would not destroy Ipswich Town.
"If we don't make a transfer next week, then this club goes forward with strength but financially we need to take action to work within our banking limits," he said.