Wark: Town should keep Jim

FORMER Ipswich Town stalwart John Wark today called for skipper Jim Magilton to be given another contract at Portman Road.And the ex-Scottish international who played 678 games for the Blues, feels that manager Joe Royle should keep faith with many of the nine who are out of contact at the end of next month.

By Elvin King

FORMER Ipswich Town stalwart John Wark today called for skipper Jim Magilton to be given another contract at Portman Road.

And the ex-Scottish international who played 678 games for the Blues, feels that manager Joe Royle should keep faith with many of the nine who are out of contact at the end of next month.

“Some are going to have to go, but it would leave too big a hole to get rid of most,” said Wark.


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“I am sure the manager knows what he wants, but having big earners on contracts until the summer of 2005 does restrict him.”

Magilton will be joined by Chris Bart-Williams, Alun Armstrong, Jermaine Wright, Richard Naylor, Lewis Price, John McGreal, Fabian Wilnis and Chris Makin in meeting the manager early next week to see if they have a future with Ipswich Town.

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And the former Northern Ireland international has got the thumbs up from Wark.

“Not every fan might agree, but Jim has had an exceptional season,” said Wark, who is involved with hospitality during home games at Portman Road and still plays Sunday football in the Licensed Trades League.

The 46-year-old went on: “Jim is as fit as any player at the club and he did not miss the start of a single league match this season.

“He has been a huge inspiration and can still do it in the First Division. John McGreal is another who has quality and if too many experienced players go Ipswich could slump next season.

“They are at the crossroads. Four of their youngsters came out of the Academy to have exceptional seasons, but you need a mix.”

Wark feels that Town should have gambled on promotion.

“Joe was given the go-ahead to bring in a few loan players and free transfers and for a while they did well, but by the final crunch games they were not all figuring.

“It was not a high standard division and if the manager had been given clearance to bring in two quality players like Matt Elliott earlier in the season they would have gained automatic promotion.

“I know that the financial position was tight, but for a reasonable outlay I am sure Joe would have got in the right men to do the job.

“Norwich City did it with Darren Huckerby and they ended up walking away with the division. An outlay of around £1million would now be grossing the club around £20m.”

Wark is fearful that one or two of Town's talented youngsters like Darren Bent, Matt Richards, Ian Westlake or Dean Bowditch might be whisked away during the summer.

“Any serious offer will have to be listened to with interest,” added Wark. “Money talks in football these days.”

Wark believes that players offered a renewal on their contracts would have some deep thinking to do.

“The days are gone when big contracts were the order of the day. Now it is different and players - even the more experienced ones - will have to weigh up whether they will get a better offer elsewhere.

“There are few clubs around - outside the Premiership - who will be paying out more money to players than Ipswich even taking into account the current restrictions at Portman Road.”

Wark made a plea to Town's financial decision-makers. “They must give Joe something with which to work.

“He has got to be allowed a bit of money, and with his experience and record over the years Joe can then be relied upon to steer the club to another promotion assault.”

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