Sheepshanks - Great times ahead for Town

DAVID Sheepshanks may have lost much of his authority at Portman Road, but he is still rooting for his beloved Ipswich Town.

Elvin King

DAVID Sheepshanks may have lost much of his authority at Portman Road, but he is still rooting for his beloved Ipswich Town.

Talking for the first time since he was relegated to a non-executive role with the Blues, he said: “The club's owner and manager have my full backing, and I am convinced that our unique football club is on the brink of great things.”

“The club is in great hands,” he told Ipswich Town staff, advertisers, sponsors and helpers at the club's annual barbecue at Glemham Hall.

“Ipswich Town is well equipped to move forward and I am confident of success this season.

“In chief executive Derek Bowden and manager Jim Magilton there is a great deal of talent at the top.

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“My love for the club has not decreased and I will continue to give my full backing and fulfil my Ipswich duties with pride,”

Sheepshanks may effectively be chairman in name only these days after a shift in emphasis following the takeover of the club by wealthy businessman Marcus Evans.

Sheepshanks, who has been chairman for 13 years, no longer has an office or secretary at Portman Road.

He is free to devote his time to other business interests, and also to develop his ties with the Football Association.

Ironically, it was Sheepshanks who led the search for a benefactor to breathe new life and purpose to the Coca-Cola Championship club.

He was delighted when he found Evans, a reclusive man who is happy to sit in the background and invest enough cash into Town to make their quest for a return to the Premier League a sustainable one.

But things turned round somewhat once Evans got his feet under the table - with Sheepshanks the major casualty.

Evans did not get a place on The Times rich list by sitting back and allowing things to happen. He saw a downward switch in Sheepshanks' role as a step forward as far as the clubs is concerned.

A place in the top flight has been imperative since Evans took 87.5 per cent control of the club last December.

This will give him a substantial return on his investment, and help to spread the Marcus Evans - and Ipswich Town - brand around the world.

Sheepshanks has the business experience to have expected changes in the way the club is run to be made, and he is fully supportive of the new regime.

Sheepshanks has struggled to regain the loss of esteem among fans he suffered when the Blues went into administration in 2003.

But he can look back with satisfaction now having rectified the club's financial position - even if it resulted in his own considerable demise in status.