Top businessman set to join Town board

ONE of Britain's most successful businessmen will today be unveiled as a new director of Ipswich Town.Millionaire Kevin Beeston, 40, is the first new addition to the Portman Road board in four years.

By Derek Davis

ONE of Britain's most successful businessmen will todaybe unveiled as a new director of Ipswich Town.

Millionaire Kevin Beeston, 40, is the first new addition to the Portman Road board in four years.

Last night, Blues chairman David Sheepshanks promised Mr Beeston's appointment would be the first of many to come in the next few weeks.

The new board member, who was born in Ipswich, is executive chairman of Serco Group plc, one of the world's largest public service companies, and will take up his new unpaid post from today.

An Ipswich Town season ticket holder for ten years, Mr Beeston last night spoke of his determination to help the Town board take Ipswich back into the top-flight.

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He said: "The last two seasons have been immensely challenging for the club and the Football League generally.

"But with the completion of the CVA, a reduced cost base, a committed management team and the continued loyalty of our fans, I'm convinced that we can take Ipswich back where we belong.

"I look forward to working with David Sheepshanks and the board to realise that dream."

The last director to join the board was Lord Ryder in 1999 and he will leave at the next annual general meeting, scheduled for November.

His arrival could herald a new era for the board and Mr Sheepshanks added: "Kevin's appointment is the first of a number of additions to the board to be made in the coming weeks and months.

"He represents new blood and new skills and will be an invaluable addition to the club.

"He is keen to be visible and accessible to fans, many of whom I hope will also have an opportunity to meet him in due course."

Mr Beeston recently invested in the football club as a loan note holder and is expected to buy a significant number of shares in the proposed issue.

A father of three, Mr Beeston started his career with Birds Eye Walls' in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft before going to Unilever.

He was appointed Serco's executive chairman in May 2002, earning £500,000 in the last financial year, after previously working as their chief executive and before that the finance director.

Mr Sheepshanks welcomed Mr Beeston's vast experience and knowledge to the club's board which has battled through a traumatic 18 months with the club being relegated and then going into administration last February.

He said: "He has been instrumental in driving his company Serco to being one of the world's most successful public service companies. He is highly regarded in the city and among many valuable attributes, he brings added financial skills to the board as a qualified accountant and former finance director and chief executive.

"Kevin has a strong affinity with the area and has been a lifelong fan of the club and is also one of those committed supporters who recently invested in the club as one of the loan note holders."

Mr Beeston is also a member of the CBI President's committee and deputy chairman of the CBI's public services strategy board and is a council member of the business in the community.

Although London-based the married father of three is regular Town-watcher and joins a current board which comprises of Mr Sheepshanks, John Kerr, Roger Finbow, Philip Hope-Cobbold, Richard Moore, chief executive Derek Bowden and Richard Ryder, who will leave at the end of the year.

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