Ipswich Town fan RUSSELL CLAYDON says the ink should have already been dry on Tommy Smith’s contract

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IT DIDN’T come as a surprise when the club announced on Friday it was not going for the top level academy status next season, but it was disappointing all the same.

Just hours later, local-boy-done-good Trevor Whymark was finally inducted into our Hall of Fame, and he told BBC Radio Suffolk good Ipswich sides always coincided with a rich stream of youth team players, whether home-grown or brought up as one of our own.

Looking back at the 1961/62 league winners (at Portman Road on Saturday to celebrate 50 years of one of the most incredible achievements in English football) and the 1978 and 1981 cup-winning sides, plus our fifth-place Premier League side, you can’t argue.

So it is sad that Ipswich Town will no longer boast one of the best academies in the country.

But with such a ridiculous system as the Elite Player Performance Plan in place, making it very tough and financially bruising to get category one status, it was always going to be a long shot.

But shouldn’t we have at least tried (nothing ventured and all that)?

Isn’t our very problem that is holding us in a perpetual cycle of mediocre mid-table seasons (after we flirt with relegation) that there has been no continuity?

No pack of Portman-raised young players hungry for success and pulling on the blue-and-white shirt with immense pride ever Saturday, hellbent on taking their club up to the country’s top division?

Luke Hyam is one of those players and how do we reward a string of good performances? By not even naming him in squads.

Tommy Smith has been one of the few bright spots in the back five this season and yet he is still hanging on to find out whether he is to be handed a new deal beyond the summer. What is going on?

Previously financially-troubled Crystal Palace are a Championship club going for category one status and it will be interesting to see where both our clubs are in five to 10 years time.

What I do applaud the club for this week though is renaming the South Stand the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand. In a day where football stands and stadiums are tattooed with horrible-sounding commercial monikers, to honour the man who first helped put us on the footballing map with a stand is a fitting tribute.

With just one defeat in eight games, we travel to Derby County’s Pride Park full of confidence on Saturday after beating Barnsley 1-0 thanks to a Daryl Murphy strike.

And two days later we host an underachieving Leicester City at Portman Road on Easter Monday.

But results are not what is important over the last six games.

We need to be laying the foundations for next season if we are to be finally making aspirations of a promotion challenge a reality.

Paul Jewell has admitted the turnover of players has been far too high but identifying a new goalkeeper and a defender, I sincerely hope, should already be well under way.