No pressure on Jim, says chairman

BLUES boss Jim Magilton has been told he is under no 'undue pressure' to win promotion next season.

Derek Davis

BLUES boss Jim Magilton has been told he is under no 'undue pressure' to win promotion next season.

Although expectation has been cranked up by supporters after missing out on the play-offs, and the massive investment by Marcus Evans, chairman David Sheepshanks doesn't believe there will be a situation midway through the season when he will have to sack Magilton.

Sheepshanks said: “Marcus Evans said from the outset that he wants promotion but he is not going to put Jim under undue pressure.

“He is prepared to be patient as long as he sees improvement.

“Marcus and I, each from our own positions, are totally behind Jim and believe in his ability to achieve our aims.”

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There is a widely-held belief that Town need to be in the top six by November or Evans' patience will snap but Sheepshanks insisted even if Town didn't go up next season, they were prepared to wait until the one after.

He added: “We can't hide from the expectations but there is no doubting the focus we have on promotion.

“There are no ifs or buts continuous development is the aim.

“The key measure of success is constant improvement and after coming so close this season, the target is the play-offs at the very least - if not better.

“The investment in the team is not all about do or die it is about improving on the foundations so we get stronger all the time.”

Sheepshanks pointed to Town's eight-place finish, six better than the year before, as a sign that Magilton is getting it right and with a full year of Evans' investment to take effect, the only way is up.

He said: “Ipswich Town are now a top half, promotion-challenging team. All Ipswich Town fans can be pleased with that and it is the very least where we shall be next season.

“This is a platform for next season.

“Jim has had two seasons to cut his teeth which he has done well.

“Jim deserves great credit. He and his staff and players have done this without the benefit of Marcus Evans's investment.

“The only player Jim bought in January was David Norris and he has missed most of the games with injury. So it was largely the old squad that got us so close.

“That is a positive and now we have this summer to build further.”

Although Town have a wealthy backer, Sheepshanks insists the club are still striving to bring in other forms of investment, even if their will be no income from any concerts at Portman Road this summer.

The club are seeking a new sponsor to replace e.on who pumped in more than £5m over seven years, with one of Marcus Evans' companies Linguarama a possibility, along with £350m project SnOasis which could be given government go-ahead today.

Sheepshanks said: “SnOasis are one of a number of companies we have spoken too but we have nothing further to add and will make an announcement later in the year.

“The commercial performance at the club continues to be very good. Just because we have Marcus' investment it doesn't follow that there is any less pressure on performance.

“The only relevance is that it does not create any undue pressure to tie things up in haste.

“We can afford to be more discerning and make decisions in a considered fashion.

“Our aim is for top commercial performances as the club has delivered in previous years.

“That has been proven in every aspect - on and off the field.”

Sheepshanks was able to add with conviction that the likes of Jon Walters, Danny Haynes and Owen Garvan would not be easy pickings for Premier League sides.

He said: “We are able to resist pressure from Premier League clubs.

“You can never say never in football and we have had no bids as such but we have no plans to sell any of our top players.”

Garvan has yet to sign an offered two-year extension to his current contract that has a year to run and more talks between player and manager are expected in the next week.

Sheepshanks said: “The offer is there but it was always agreed we would wait until the season is over. We hope he signs but there is no undue rush.”

Town are hoping to announce a top international side will be playing in a curtain-raiser for the new season in August with Lazio still owing the Blues a game as part of the deal that took Matteo Sereni back to Italy.