If only Town reject had gone to Pompey

PUBLISHED: 12:14 18 January 2006 | UPDATED: 09:08 14 September 2010

It hasn't, it seems, been a good week for Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks. For having spotted a potential knight in shining white armour in the shape of Florida-based businessman Michael Anderson, it now emerges that Mr Anderson - who, when the occasion demands, also goes by the name of "Lord Michael Boxted" - has one or two skeletons rattling around in his cupboard.

Championship Chat with Rick Waghorn

It hasn't, it seems, been a good week for Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks.

For having spotted a potential knight in shining white armour in the shape of Florida-based businessman Michael Anderson, it now emerges that Mr Anderson - who, when the occasion demands, also goes by the name of “Lord Michael Boxted” - has one or two skeletons rattling around in his cupboard.

Like his involvement with both Aldershot and Kettering Town shortly before they hit the financial rocks; that and his involvement in an American pharmaceutical business with a certain Lisa St Peter, currently awaiting sentencing in the United States on 112 charges of fraud and tax evasion.

Neither of which, funnily enough, emerged in his discussions with a now-sheepish Sheepshanks after this week being obliged to hand Mr Anderson back his reported £500,000 share investment - not to mention the promise of a seat on the board - after clearly failing Town's “fit and proper person” test.

“I'm angry, I'm embarrassed, I'm fed up and I'm terribly sad about the whole thing,” admitted Sheepshanks, with Town's dire financial plight only eased by the latest rescheduling of their £28 million debt to Norwich Union, albeit in the guise of Morley Fund Management.

If only Mr Anderson - or rather a company of which he was the sole director - had owed £1,756 to Barclaycard and £259,000 to HM Customs & Excise as Monarch Fiduciary went into liquidation with debts of £700,000 and if he had a father involved in a £340 million arms-for-oil scam in Angola, an international arrest warrant out in his name and was the subject of a recent seven-hour “chat” with Israeli police over claims of money laundering, then all would be well with the world.

That's because the words “angry” and “embarrassed” never crossed the lips of Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric as he sold half the South Coast club to mysterious 29-year-old Russian businessman Alexandre “Sacha” Gaydamak, whose billionaire father, Arcadi Gaydamak, is not exactly flavour of the month with the French political establishment.

Still, just as one man's meat is another man's poison, so when it comes to money and football one man's “fit and proper person” is clearly another man's embarrassment.

Head south, Mr Anderson.

You'll be welcomed with open arms.

What price would you pay for Dean?

As far as anyone can tell, we may yet be approaching something of an end-game in the great Dean Ashton transfer saga.

Only 'approaching', because for all the hints, winks, nods and suggestions that West Ham United may be getting there or thereabouts, as far as any clear public statement is concerned, the Canaries have remained pretty steadfast in their determination to play host to Ipswich Town on Sunday, February 5, with both Ashton and Robert Green still on the team-sheet.

That said, certainly when it comes to their England Under-21 striker, the temptation must be there to cash in.

If, as most national newspapers tend to agree, the Hammers are indeed talking in terms of a £7 million offer then, for many, that might be getting close to the kind of “crazy” money that Norwich chief Nigel Worthington has always insisted it would take to prise Ashton out of his hands.

The fact that 'The Sun' was today suggesting that the debate had moved on another £1 million with the Canaries reported to be seeking £8 million for the 22-year-old hints at all manner of potential goings-on - not least the chance to see if anyone else wants to come into play at that level before the City board and manager make a final decision over Ashton's future.

After all, in amongst all the talk of jellied eels and pearly kings, the silence out of Eastlands has been deafening. Stuart Pearce was widely assumed to be in the driving seat for Ashton's signature after his summer-long courting of the player's agent.

Come the bleak mid-winter, however, and Manchester City have steadfastly refused to come out to play. The only suggestion to come out of a bemused Manchester was the simplest interpretation of the lot - that, saddled with all the debt that accompanied the switch to the City of Manchester Stadium, Pearce simply hasn't got that kind of cash to play with.

What is the really intriguing bit is what price the greater majority of City fans would consider fair for a player on whose shoulders so many play-off hopes probably rest.

Certainly, it is something the Canary board is keen to determine as they try to avoid at all costs being seen to sell everyone short as they ponder kissing Ashton good-bye. Dip the smallest of toes in the office opinion water and most in this building would be sorely tempted at the £7 million mark - even more so if the traditional raft of subsequent add-ons should the Hammers retain their Premiership status on the back of Ashton's goals tip that figure ever nearer towards the distinctly magic £8 million mark.

There is one other large factor that will be creeping into everyone's thinking - the player's own attitude towards his own selling price.

Decent, sensible lad that he is, Dean will still have a figure in his head after which he might figure that the Canaries were starting to take the proverbial. Perhaps, if he's got the nod from Pearce that he'll be back in the summer, missing out on a new life in the East End is something Dean will live with for six months; perhaps not. He is, after all, 22-years-old - all manner of noughts lie just there, just over the horizon.

And there lies Cameron Jerome. Just waiting in the wings.

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