Money talks for Town

IPSWICH bosses will sit down this week and draft two very different financial blueprints.Manager Joe Royle will break off from preparing his team for Saturday's play-off clash at West Ham to join chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden as they put the finishing touches to the vastly contrasting budgets.

IPSWICH bosses will sit down this week and draft two very different financial blueprints.

Manager Joe Royle will break off from preparing his team for Saturday's play-off clash at West Ham to join chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden as they put the finishing touches to the vastly contrasting budgets.

One will apply in the event of Town eliminating the Hammers and then going on to beat Derby or Preston and regain their Premiership status.

The other alternative will come into play should Ipswich fail in their play-off quest and have to spend at least another season in the second tier of English football.

Royle, whose team lost out on automatic promotion to Wigan at the weekend, said: “The two budget plans will differ dramatically.

“I read that Wigan will be giving manager Paul Jewell a kitty of £25million to spend on reinforcements for the Premiership.

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“If we join them through the play-offs I can confirm we will be spending nowhere near that amount of money, although we know it will cost us a lot more in terms of wages at the higher level.

“If we are still in the Championship next year the budget will be even less than it was in the current season, so you could say there is a lot riding on the play-offs.

“It is as if there are two doors for us to go through, one to the Premiership and the other back to the Championship, and they are worlds apart.”

Royle's comments make it clear that Ipswich are still playing catch-up after the financial meltdown that saw them plunge into administration two years ago.

Town are still counting the pennies and promotion will not trigger a spending frenzy, although they will look to cut corners still further if their status remains unchanged.

The current situation is like an echo of that of 12 months ago, when a number of players whose contracts were about to expire faced an uncertain future.

Defeat by West Ham triggered a whirlwind of activity that saw some players offered new deals, while others accepted better offers elsewhere.

Once Town's fate is known, Royle will address the situation with regard to out-of-contract stars Jim Magilton, Tommy Miller, Shefki Kuqi, Fabian Wilnis and Drissa Diallo.

Under the terms of his deal, 19-goal joint top scorer Kuqi will automatically earn an improved package in the event of Town being promoted.

A new contract will also be on offer to Miller, who has netted 15 times this season, regardless of the club's status, although the terms are likely to vary greatly.

Miller, who is due to be married on June 4, has stated his intention to stay put, but there must be a question mark against the Portman Road futures of the other three.

Royle added: “We need to see where we are in a few weeks' time, with regard to what division we are going to be playing in next season, before we can sit down with individual players and discuss new contracts.

“This is exactly the same situation we were in a year ago and the players understand it. We will assess our needs and act accordingly."

Meanwhile, Town have said their farewells to loan pair David Unsworth and James Scowcroft, who have returned to Portsmouth and Leicester respectively.

Unsworth's spell was already scheduled to end after Sunday's game at Brighton, but in the case of former Portman Road favourite Scowcroft the club have exercised an option not to continue the loan arrangement into the play-offs.

Scowcroft, 29, now faces an uncertain few weeks, since Leicester have made it clear he is surplus to requirements there and will not be offered a new deal after his contract expires next month.

Unsworth's absence will open the door for Diallo to start at Upton Park on Saturday, with right-back Fabian Wilnis switching to the left.

Another less likely option is for Matt Richards to come into the starting line-up, although the fact that he has been named in the side for Town's last reserve fixture at Portsmouth this evening suggests he is more likely to be on the bench.

Scowcroft's place in the senior squad will be taken by teenage striker Dean Bowditch, who has returned to Portman Road after a loan spell with Burnley in which he scored once in ten appearances.

The Town players, who had a day off yesterday, were back in training today as they began to look ahead to Saturday's lunchtime visit to East London.

The second leg of the play-off semi goes ahead under the Portman Road floodlights on May 18.

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