Bankers call the shots

ANXIOUS bankers are now involved in the day-to-day running of Ipswich Town, I can reveal today.To say that the Blues are facing up to the biggest crisis in their history is almost an understatement.

By Dave Allard

ANXIOUS bankers are now involved in the day-to-day running of Ipswich Town, I can reveal today.

To say that the Blues are facing up to the biggest crisis in their history is almost an understatement.

I told you straight soon after the start of the season and was pilloried for it all over the place.

But what I said was a fact.

Let me tell you this today. Ipswich Town Football Club is in the financial intensive care unit.

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The club is a massive professional sports operation run on Premiership lines, but they exist among Nationwide League paupers.

Chairman David Sheepshanks and his board are under immense pressure.

Meetings with bank officials are becoming almost as frequent as chats to the promotion-pushing team led by manager Joe Royle. The meetings are almost daily.

And thank goodness for Joe. His arrival has been like manna from heaven for the magnificent fans as the team have pointed their noses in the direction of the top flight again. The genial and persuasive Joe can't completely ease that pressure from the men in grey suits at the bank.

The decision to give Martijn Reuser a free transfer yesterday may have come as a shock to fans – but it was on the cards. It had to be. It has to be a continuing case of cut, cut cut.

Leicester City went into administration.

If the Town board don't continue to take evasive action it could happen at Portman Road.

Sheepshanks and his board are trying to do a financial juggling act. They are spinning plates in a bid to ease the financial crisis and, at the same time, keep a squad good enough to challenge for the Premiership again.

Sadly plates are falling down on heads as the re-opening of the transfer window has only seen the £1.3million sale of Jamie Clapham to Birmingham.

As the closing of the window nears on January 31, more and more prayers will be offered up from the boardroom in the hope that further big bids come in.

I have great sympathy for Sheepshanks. He led from the front as the club achieved so much. It was to such an extent that, after finishing fifth in the Premiership, relegation the following May could not really be envisaged.

He is leading just as much now, but in a far more hurtful situation.

The massive financial fall-out after relegation has struck deeper than anyone realised, and the failure of so many big buys has been a stunning blow.

Fans will say…why can't the bank stay off the back of the club as promotion may be achieved?

What might or might not happen at the end of May cannot influence too much the thinking of the men in grey suits now.

Former chairman Patrick Cobbold once said: "The only crisis at this club is when we run out of dry white wine in the boardroom."

At a time like this the men sitting around that table at Portman Road may be needing an extra glass or two to steady the nerves.

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