No more sales - Sheepshanks

IPSWICH Town's re-structuring of finances means that the selling can finally stop at Portman Road.After three years of seeing the lifeblood of the club bleed away, manager Joe Royle has been told he can build on what he has got.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Town's re-structuring of finances means that the selling can finally stop at Portman Road.

After three years of seeing the lifeblood of the club bleed away, manager Joe Royle has been told he can build on what he has got.

Chairman David Sheepshanks has confirmed this fact, which will surely help to soften the blow for fans after going out of the FA Cup at the third round stage at home to Portsmouth on Saturday.

Sheepshanks said: “A new deal that is agreed in principle with our money lenders will mean no forced sales before 2008.

“And hopefully this can be extended if things go well on the pitch in the meantime.”

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The chairman admitted there was one proviso. “This is taking into account that we are able to retain similar levels of support from all sections of the community as we enjoy now,” he said.

“A downturn in attendances etc will clearly have an adverse effect on what we can afford. But I prefer to be positive.

“The club is in good health, barring our financial constraints. We are well on our way to dealing with those - and clear daylight is visible at the end of the tunnel.”

Town still owe millions on a 'mortgage' for the building of two stands, and they are governed by strict rules that accompanied their coming out of administration.

But the financial picture is less gloomy, and Royle has already benefited from this with the £300,000 purchase of Gavin Williams from West Ham.

He will not have vast sums to spend by any means, but he expects to hand over another £150,000 or so for the signature of Cardiff striker Alan Lee this week - a proven scorer with his previous club Rotherham and the right age (27) and height (6'2”) to bolster Town's frontline.

Some reports suggest that Dean Bowditch may be on his way out of Portman Road after the 19-year-old failed to sparkle in the last season and a half.

But this will only be if Royle feels he wants to part with a youngster for whom a goal could work wonders. There is more likelihood of an extra striker - in addition to Lee - coming in.

With five strikers missing Royle admitted that Ipswich lacked a cutting edge in their 1-0 home defeat by Pompey.

Royle said: “I am looking to bring in one forward soon - but I won't be spending roubles.

“Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp is about to start playing fantasy football and good luck to him.

“I need a hardy professional up there who can keep the ball. With two more strikers we will be a force to be reckoned with.

“Gavin Williams had a great chance and that would have changed the game. We passed and probed, we hit the post and flashed one wide. We just didn't have that cutting edge.”

Redknapp, set to splash new co-owner Alexandre Gaydamak's millions, agreed with Royle's assessment.

He said: “It was a close game. I could see Ipswich scoring near the end but we managed to get through in the end.

“Ipswich passed it better than us for long spells but lacked that cutting edge up front. It was a great ball from Matthew Taylor and it was a good header from Dario Silva.”

Cameras were aimed towards the Town directors' box at the start, but Gaydamak didn't make the trip to Portman Road to catch his new investment in action.

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