'We won't be held to ransom' - chairman

DAVID Sheepshanks last night warned Blackburn Rovers that Ipswich Town would not be held to ransom, even though they have come into extra cash from the Darren Bent deal.

By Derek Davis

DAVID Sheepshanks last night warned Blackburn Rovers that Ipswich Town would not be held to ransom, even though they have come into extra cash from the Darren Bent deal.

While the Blues chairman is delighted that the sell-on clause has netted Town a further £2.58m, taking the sale of Bent to Charlton to £5.5m, he has pointed out that the club will not go on a spending spree.

The Blues have already made two offers to Blackburn Rovers for £1m-priced Francis Jeffers, the second believed to be close to £600,000 and the club are not prepared to be pushed much further and are ready to look elsewhere for another striker.

Sheepshanks said: “We have repeatedly said that we would like to sign Francis Jeffers and nothing has changed in that respect.

“However, we will not be held to ransom. We have made a very good offer to Blackburn Rovers that provides them with a major stake in his future career on top of a realistic guaranteed fee.

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“I still hope that we can agree terms for Franny to join us permanently but if this doesn't happen Jim Magilton has a number of other players in his sights that he would like to bring to the club.

“Because the money involved is spread over a period of time it is not burning a hole in our pocket and it is important that we are deliberate and strategic in using it to our best advantage.”

Town manager Jim Magilton plucked Jeffers from the Rovers' reserves and after four goals in nine games was impressed enough to make a permanent move for a player who many thought would be allowed to leave on a free with only one year of his contract remaining.

Although the 27-year-old former Arsenal and Everton striker's wages are not astronomic in Premiership terms the Blues will still have to find around £500,000 a year to pay him and that money has to come from a budget hit by a fall in season ticket sales from around 18,000 to 13,000.

The Blues will pick up £2.58m from the Addicks but in three instalments of around £860,000 over two years and not all can go on securing one player.

Sheepshanks said: “Happily, all good things come to those who wait and, while it has been a protracted process clearly the news is tremendous for the club.

“We can view this sell-on fee as the second instalment of the original sale of Darren to Charlton that, in aggregate now rises to £5.5 million.

“This windfall enables us to invest further in Jim's team-building plans.”

Charlton are also looking to use their cash from the Bent deal to buy a Blackburn player, with Jason Roberts their target.

Magilton is on a UEFA 'A' licence coaching course in Belfast all next week, although any further negotiations are likely to be handled by Sheepshanks.

Magilton has already said that he has a contingency plan if a fee cannot be agreed for Jeffers. Malcolm Christie - who is understood to be in talks with Nottingham Forest - and Pablo Counago are strikers he likes but no contact has been made as yet.

Ipswich beat Leiston 6-0 in the second of their behind-closed doors practice matches against local opposition. Town players and staff will now enjoy a nine-day break.

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