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Town in crunch league talks

PUBLISHED: 20:00 21 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

IPSWICH are set for crunch talks with The Football League today as they prepare to exit administration.

The club see this afternoon's meeting in London as another vital step towards securing their long-term future.

IPSWICH are set for crunch talks with The Football League today as they prepare to exit administration.

The club see this afternoon's meeting in London as another vital step towards securing their long-term future.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden will hope to satisfy members of the League's executive board that things are returning to normal at Portman Road after the turmoil of the last few months.

A League spokesman confirmed: "The meeting is important in that we have to be comfortable with the plans Ipswich are looking to put in place.

"The timetable is in Ipswich's hands. If they are ready, they can apply to have their share returned.

"There is a League board meeting on June 4 when their application could be considered, otherwise it will have to wait until early the following month."

Since slumping into administration in February, when debts topped the £60 million mark, Town have been walking a financial tightrope.

But with creditors accepting a CVA proposal at the start of this month, the pressure has eased on Sheepshanks and his boardroom colleagues.

The immediate aim is to exit administration and regain their Football League share, which was suspended in February.

Only then will the League lift their transfer embargo and clear the way for manager Joe Royle to enter the transfer market.

Today's meeting enables Sheepshanks to deliver a progress report in the hope of convincing League chiefs that Town's financial future is secure.

He will update them on season ticket and debenture sales as part of an overall cash flow picture.

Town are confident of banking millions before the end of the month as supporters rush to take advantage of prices frozen until May 31.

Further funds will be available as fans continue to purchase seats in the following weeks and the club are confident that sales will top the 16,000 mark.

Town, who sold in excess of 19,000 last term, have also been encouraged by the number of fans interested in taking up ten-year options on seats.

They can also look forward to a £4.75m cash injection in August, courtesy of the second and final parachute payment from BSkyB.

But a large chunk of the satellite company's money is already earmarked for club personnel, mainly players, who took a 20 per cent wage deferral to ease the strain.

Town may have reduced their wage bill, which was running at £24m less than a year ago, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

They were forced to accept less than £2m in March, when they sold Darren Ambrose and Hermann Hreidarsson to Newcastle and Charlton respectively.

Sheepshanks admitted at the time that the sales were necessary to enable the club to pay their way to the end of the season.

Now they are relying on season ticket and debenture sales, together with some commercial income, to enable them to meet a wage bill still running at approximately £1.3m per month.

Town are looking to slash the annual figure to £5m, which means the inevitable departure of some high-earning players before the August kick-off.


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