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Wish we owned it - so we could flog it!

PUBLISHED: 16:35 13 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:43 03 March 2010

TOWN director Roger Finbow has said he wished the club owned its Portman Road ground – because they could "flog it to someone" to ease their debt.

The startling revelation was made by Mr Finbow to a national sports journalist who was investigating Town's fall from financial grace.

TOWN director Roger Finbow has said he wished the club owned its Portman Road ground – because they could "flog it to someone" to ease their debt.

The startling revelation was made by Mr Finbow to a national sports journalist who was investigating Town's fall from financial grace.

"If we owned the freehold we could just flog it to someone, but we cannot," Mr Finbow is reported to have said.

He came out with his would-be solution while explaining how Town's confidence turned to decline through a series of events which led to unavoidable administration.

Very much echoing the words of club chairman David Sheepshanks in an interview with The Evening Star last month, Mr Finbow, said: "What happened was that due to our league position there was a decline in other income such as merchandising and gate receipts. The cash flow got worse and we were advised it would not be possible to have a share or loan issue.

"Because of the declining value of our players it was very difficult to put together a prospectus," he added.

The speed with which Ipswich, a club once considered the model small town club, has become a financial disaster has baffled many.

The directors have said the club could not have anticipated the twin collapses of ITV Digital and the transfer market.

With the arrival of Nick Dargan from Deloitte & Touche – the same man who wound up ITV Digital – Town, with his management of the purse strings, has made some inroads in to its cash shortfall. Hreidarsson was sold to Charlton for £750,000 (a loss of £3.75m) and Ambrose to Newcastle for £1m. However the debt expected to be presented to the creditors at their meeting on or before May 10 is a staggering £65m.

Neither Mr Sheepshanks nor Mr Finbow have confirmed or denied this figure.

But Mr Finbow said: "Debt is a ragbag of different things. There is normal on-going trading debt, bank overdraft, the 25-year bond and liabilities such as commitments to players on their contracts.

"So if you have 20 players with two years remaining on their contracts and they are on £500,000 a year each then you have a debt of £20m. But that is not real debt. It would only become a debt if the club was wound up," he explained.

Regardless of the amount, Ipswich has lots of debt without any real assets.

The club's accounts for June 30, 2002 show two major fixed assets – tangible assets which is land, buildings, computers, cars, fixtures and fittings worth £34.9m – and players bought by the club for £14.3m.

But Town does not own its Portman Road home ground which is on a long lease from Ipswich Borough Council.


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