Town academy rocked by cuts

IPSWICH Town's youth academy, that in the past four years has produced close on £20million worth of transfer market money, is facing turmoil.Academy chiefs, headed by director Bryan Klug, have been told that the club administrators are expecting the annual £900,000 budget to be cut by almost a third.

By Dave Allard

IPSWICH Town's youth academy, that in the past four years has produced close on £20million worth of transfer market money, is facing turmoil.

Academy chiefs, headed by director Bryan Klug, have been told that the club administrators are expecting the annual £900,000 budget to be cut by almost a third.

The Blues' youth assembly line is heralded around the country as a prime example of how such a set-up should be run.

Other clubs often visit to see why former Town and England youth international Klug, his assistants Ken Goody, Ian Smith, and the rest of the staff, have been so successful.

It was hoped that the academy would be the one department left alone as voluntary administration continues.

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But that is not the case and staff have been left bewildered.

It is hoped that the cuts can come by a reduction in expenditure and not the loss of jobs, but being able to maintain the standard of the impressive Playford Road set-up just by these means seems impossible.

It has rocked morale in a department at the debt-ridden club that has been its lifeblood for so long.

Being able to compete with the top Premiership clubs and court the best schoolboy prospects in the country depends on having a fair budget.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks said in his annual report to shareholders: "The academy continues to go from strength and we look forward to maintaining our position."

The way the Town academy is run has persuaded parents to send their hot property talents to Suffolk in the face of competition from the likes of Premiership giants Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Dean Bowditch, the 16-year-old striker who made a third senior appearance up front in the

1-0 weekend win at Sheffield Wednesday, is a classic example.

The former England schoolboy international was sold on Town by the strength of the academy team as have been so many other young players including the more experienced first team trio of Darren Bent, Darren Ambrose and Matt Richards.

Bent and Ambrose, along with other young Blues starlets, are being eyed by a host of Premiership clubs with a view to transfer deals that could boost the cash crisis and stop voluntary administration becoming full administration.

Town's sales of players in the past four years have realised more than £19million – Kieron Dyer to Newcastle (£6m), Richard Wright to Arsenal (£5m), James Scowcroft to Leicester (£3.3m) and Titus Bramble to Newcastle (£5m).

In Saturday's excellent win at Hillsborough, which saw Town maintain their promotion play-off push, academy-produced players Richard Naylor, the man of the match, Matt Richards, Darren Bent, Bowditch and Ian Westlake were all in action.

Over the past few years the Town academy has produced as much, if not more talent, than an Arsenal academy that costs ten times more to operate each year.

Administrators are looking for the budget to be cut by around £250,000.

And a club insider said: "I've heard it said that this is minimal, but the academy runs as tightly and efficiently as any and cutting back on trips to watch players and costs to bring young players here for trials and stuff like that is going to make the operation so much harder.

"The academy thrives on a great many dedicated people. Morale has been knocked but hopefully it can be restored."

Next season the Town will not be running an Under-17 side.

On the first team front, Town look ahead to tomorrow night's home game with Reading looking to close the gap further on the play-off zone.

Chris Makin and Tommy Miller have a chance of being back in contention again after injury.

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