New financial blow for club

JUST when it seemed the financial news from Ipswich Town couldn't get worse . . . it has!The club was today about to be hit by a new £140,000 bill from Ipswich council – it's business rates for the year 2003-4.

JUST when it seemed the financial news from Ipswich Town couldn't get worse . . . it has!

The club was today about to be hit by a new £140,000 bill from Ipswich council – it's business rates for the year 2003-4.

It already owed the council, which is its landlord, £88,000 – and the new bill will add to the headaches for administrators and the board who are struggling to bring costs under control.

Council chief executive James Hehir said the club had paid its business rate bill for 2002/3 earlier in the year, before its financial problems became acute.

"But this will make the council a much larger creditor than it currently is – we don't want to add to the club's problems but it is a bill they should pay," he said.

Although it looks like a substantial sum, the £140,000 new bill represents only a fraction of the club's weekly wage bill.

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That is believed to be running at slightly less than £500,000 a week – although it has fallen slightly over the last week with the sale of Darren Ambrose and especially the departure of Hermann Hreidarsson.

The transfer cash the club received for the two players – a total of about £1.7 million – is being used to keep it afloat and cannot be put into a pot to pay off creditors.

The council has a stronger interest in the club than most businesses in the town because it owns the land Portman Road is built on.

And its members also have a strong interest in the football club – when a question about the lease was asked at a full meeting recently, councillors were advised that any season ticket holders should declare an interest.

A total of 15 out of the 48 councillors declared an interest at the meeting.

"I was surprised that the number was so large – I thought it would be about five or six," said Mr Hehir.

"It shows what a strong commitment there is to the club at this council."

nWhat do you think about the club's struggling to pay its business rates bill after council taxes have gone up so much? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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