Luton's fall a warning to Ipswich

LUTON Town's dramatic fall from promotion hopefuls to relegation candidates is a warning sign to Ipswich Town.When Town played them in October they were fifth, now they are in the bottom three - with manager Mike Newell paying the penalty for the run of poor results by getting the sack yesterday.

By Elvin King

LUTON Town's dramatic fall from promotion hopefuls to relegation candidates is a warning sign to Ipswich Town.

When Town played them in October they were fifth, now they are in the bottom three - with manager Mike Newell paying the penalty for the run of poor results by getting the sack yesterday.

He has been struggling to compete following the sale of Rowan Vine and Carlos Edwards during the January transfer window.

Jim Magilton's Ipswich side visits Kenilworth Road tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) needing one victory to virtually ensure their Championship survival.

Whether Magilton can significantly improve his club's fortunes next season will be affected by the number of season tickets sold.

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If sales drop alarmingly he might find himself having the same problems experienced this campaign by Newell.

The reaction from Town fans to a four per cent increase in adult ticket prices suggests that Portman Road sales are likely to dip again next season.

Working on an average season ticket cost of £333, if 3,000 fans fall away for 2007/08 it means a £1 million drop in revenue.

If this forces Town to search for alternative ways to balance the books the departure of saleable players would be necessary.

A strong end to the season would instil confidence in Town followers and lead to an upsurge in ticket sales. A poor run and the consequences could be dire.

Newell was left shaking his head at the evaporation of money following the departures of Vine, Edwards, Kevin Nicholls, Steve Howard and Curtis Davies since the end of last season.

The Hatters have lost their last five games with Newell having no alternative than to bring in youngsters.

“Where has the £9million gone from the sale of those players?” asked Newell this week.

“Give that to me and I will get five experienced players in, I will pay them fortunes and we will get ourselves out of trouble.

“The reason we are in this position is because we have sold our best players.”

Newell probably talked himself out of his job having previously upset his chairman Bill Tomlins with controversial comments.

He received a final warning from the Luton board last November for criticising a female assistant referee and questioning the integrity of his employers.

Luton were in football's third tier when Newell replaced Joe Kinnear nearly four years ago. They were promoted to the Championship in 2005 and finished in mid-table last season, but Newell has had to sell to help to balance the books.

Brian Stein, a former Luton player, has taken over as caretaker manager with irate supporters planning a demonstration against the board tomorrow.

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