Sheepshanks backs ten-point proposal

IPSWICH chairman David Sheepshanks today backed the Nationwide League's decision to impose a ten-point penalty on clubs who enter administration from the start of next season.

By Mel Henderson

IPSWICH chairman David Sheepshanks today backed the Nationwide League's decision to impose a ten-point penalty on clubs who enter administration from the start of next season.

It was Sheepshanks (pictured right), who took Town in and out of administration earlier this year, who led the fight for amendments to the original proposals that were ratified at an emergency general meeting held at Oxford's Kassam Stadium yesterday.

He said: "This is a very positive day for the Football League and I'm very pleased the league board backed the modernisation plans.

"I was very cautious about supporting the original plans as it was a 'one glove fits all' situation, which I felt was grossly unjust.

"But now there is an appeals process in place which takes into account massive damaging factors, such as the collapse of the transfer market, the collapse of ITV Digital and the loss of money which had already been budgeted, and the arrival of a transfer window, all of which affected Ipswich Town badly."

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Former Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale, who recently took control of Second Division outfit Barnsley, has also backed the new rules.

Ridsdale was widely blamed for the financial problems that befell the Elland Road side, and his current club are themselves struggling through administration after running into money worries before his arrival.

But he believes the Barclaycard Premiership could learn from new rules, which are aimed at preventing clubs taking the easy way out of financial misfortune.

Ridsdale said: "Football is going through a very difficult time but the Football League are showing some leadership.

"We are making a statement for the game as a whole. Clubs have to be managed sensibly and they will take fewer risks because the penalties are there to be seen.

"Our club is still in administration but the lessons I've learnt from my past mean I will be running my club more prudently.

"Once our takeover is complete we will be able to come out of administration. That will happen shortly."

After the ten-point penalty is imposed, clubs will then only be permitted to remain in receivership for a maximum period of 18 months before they are thrown out of the League.

The measure has been brought in largely as a response to simmering resentment at the way Leicester were able to write off huge debts by coming out of administration before subsequently winning promotion to the top flight.

The penalties will only come into affect for clubs who go into administration from the start of the 2004/05 season, so the likes of Notts County and Wimbledon still have breathing space.

There will also be an appeals process but Football League chairman Sir Brian Mawhinney said: "It's the league's job to protect the fairness of the systems that we run. There were some clubs who weren't content with all the proposals.

"I believe this is a very significant decision, primarily because it prevents the erosion of fair competition that occurs when clubs shed their debts through administration.

"It will make an important contribution to enhancing the standards of financial management within football."

Chairmen from all member clubs also voted to publish total spending by individual clubs on player agents every six months.

Also agreed were the introduction of parachute payments for clubs relegated from the First and Second Divisions, funded by the clubs promoted from those divisions.

And the ratification of a new league structure means the First Division should have its own managing director by Christmas.

But proposals to extend the play-offs in each division are now off the agenda completely.