Football: Ipswich inspired by Premiership riches

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The Independent Online
THE IPSWICH chairman, David Sheepshanks, is forecasting a pounds 10m windfall if his club make it into the Premiership via the First Division play-offs.

The club must overcome a 1-0 deficit against Bolton at Portman Road in tonight's First Division semi-final second leg to reach the Wembley final - but Sheepshanks knows they are two wins away from a major financial boost.

"Reaching the Premiership will more than double the size of the club overnight," said Sheepshanks, who last week announced he was standing to become chairman of the Football Association. "The turnover at the moment is in the region of pounds 7m but that would rocket to an estimated pounds 17m. It is very hard to be precise but you are looking at pounds 8m-10m as being the increased revenue."

The Bolton manager, Colin Todd, is refusing to bow to the pressure. Another clean sheet at Portman Road would guarantee them a trip to Wembley, but Todd insists it is business as usual. "We know what we've got to do and we'll keep playing the way we have all season as we've played 47 games and it would be stupid to start changing the game plan now," he said.

If Ipswich keep a clean sheet tonight it will be their 27th of the season and will equal the record set by Bobby Robson's Uefa Cup-winning team of 1981. The Ipswich manager, George Burley, is likely to adopt an attacking 4-4-2 formation which means Bobby Petta coming into the side at the expense of Manuel Thetis.

Todd is boosted by the fitness of central defender Mark Fish, who is likely to start after overcoming an injury scare at the weekend when he limped off in the first leg complaining of calf problems. Todd has no new injury worries but is still likely to be without long-term absentees Mike Whitlow, Dean Holdsworth and Scott Sellars.

In the Second Division play-offs, the Manchester City manager, Joe Royle, will give late fitness tests to the captain, Andy Morrison, and the midfielder Jamie Pollock as his side prepare to entertain Wigan after a 1- draw in the first leg .

Royle was uncompromising yesterday, issuing a challenge to his players. "We have to feed on the expectation here, players who want to be part of what is happening at this club have got to be able to handle that," he said. "That's what been wrong in the past. Too many players have come here with great reputations and they haven't handled it. They haven't been big game players when we have needed them."

The Wigan manager, Ray Mathias, has injury problems of his own with news that the striker Simon Haworth, whose goals have been a key factor in Wigan's promotion challenge, is likely to miss the game with a hamstring injury.

In the Third Division, Swansea, who have a 1-0 lead over Rotherham, could struggle up front without their striker Steve Watkin, who is doubtful after injuring an ankle in the first leg.