A new era for Town board

NEW directors will be appointed within the next couple of months with a raft of fresh faces being asked to supplement the current directors at Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

NEW directors will be appointed within the next couple of months with a raft of fresh faces being asked to supplement the current directors at Ipswich Town, writes Derek Davis.

Blues chairman David Sheepshanks, who has confirmed he and the five other directors paid £350,000 of their own money to get the club out of desperate straits after going into administration last February, will see new faces arriving.

But he has defended the actions of the current board, who have come in for criticism in some quarters after the club was relegated and subsequently went into administration.

He said: "I'm fiercely defensive of the existing board's performance because we have acted entirely honourably and selflessly in the best interests of the club.

"We were confronted with the worst-possible set of circumstances that any board could have faced. Other companies will have suffered ultimate collapse because they have lost their biggest customer or whatever but this was so public and largely beyond our control.

"We know we could have done things differently, not sign player X or player Y, but we backed our manager and at the time they were sound decisions – no one could have foreseen all the other factors which subsequently happened.

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"It is a new era and it is now time to prepare for that so it is appropriate that we bring new faces onto the board of directors. They will be people from different backgrounds with different skills to strengthen the board, rather than to have wholesale change, and it will happen within the next couple of months."

"It is a recognition that we have come to the end of one era and we are about to embark on a new era."

And he laid to rest the ghost that he and his fellow directors never contributed financially to try to save the club.

He revealed: "None of us are wealthy benefactors yet we put £350,000 into the club at its most vulnerable time, when it was still in administration, so we could get the club out of administration.

"That is our own hard-earned money which we put in for the love of the club knowing we may never see that money again.

"When push comes to shove this board of directors has put its money where its mouth is."

And he rejected the charge that he and the board had not been open about what was going on at the club. Sheepshanks held numerous interviews, with the written press, television and radio, and fronted an open public meeting at Ipswich Town Hall.

He said: "I believe the board have been as open as we possibly can. We have paid a lot of attention to having better communications over the last few years and generally speaking we do. But what we will never do, nor would any club, is bare our souls or reveal how each player is paid or give details of the administration, which we just could not do. I level as much as I possibly can. I have nothing to hide."

Although the plan is to allow chief executive Derek Bowden to take over the day-to-day running of the business side of the club, Sheepshanks insists he is stepping back, not stepping down, as the club moves forward.

He said: "This would have happened like this last summer but because of the severity of the situation then and the need to engage in a rearguard action that was not possible."

Sheepshanks has also called on supporters to back a share issue planned for August/September and expand the current board.

He added: "Every supporter wants to be represented on the board and with the core support of 18,000 season ticket-holders and an average crowd last season of 25,500, we need to get a board of directors which most effectively manages the club on their behalf."

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