Sheepshanks: I nearly fell on my sword

DAVID Sheepshanks today revealed that he offered to resign during the dark days of administration.

Derek Davis

DAVID Sheepshanks today revealed that he offered to resign during the dark days of administration.

The former Blues chairman, who stepped down last week to be replaced by owner Marcus Evans, came under fire when the club needed to go to the High Court for protection and asked the board if they wanted him to go.

But Sheepshanks was given unanimous backing and vowed to clear up the mess rather than fall on his sword.

In an open and frank interview reflecting on his 22 years on the board, 14 as chairman, Sheepshanks said: “I asked the board if they wanted me to stand down and the unanimous view was no. It was agreed that we should stay together and try and put things right.

“Of course as a human being I had private moments of self doubt but in a way the same passion and determination that inspired me in the first seven years was the same that drove me on in the second seven years.

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“We had to face it. I had to take responsibility but the rest of the board and the staff stood shoulder to shoulder.

“I was the chairman and the buck stopped with me so the only thing I could do really was to not just take responsibility for what had happened but to take responsibility for the recovery.

“I swore to myself then that if people backed me, which they did, that I would either get the club promoted, and I would have preferred it that way, or see the club recapitalised and that meant a new owner.”

Sheepshanks, who had led the Blues to the Premier League as part of a five-year plan, admits there were times when he wished he had the privacy that new owner Marcus Evans insists upon today.

He said: “The weight of responsibility when you are chairman is just magnified enormously from what it feels as a director.

“As my predecessor John Kerr knows what it is like and you can't avoid the feeling that you are carrying the weight of expectation of everyone who loves the club and it is down to you.

“Although it is not about one person, the club is bigger than every one of us and always will be, you feel when you have been handed the chair you have the keys and that is very rewarding in the good times but unbelievably stressful in the bad times.

“It is a double-edged sword. I became hugely high-profile in the first seven years and can't pretend I didn't enjoy it.

“It is very nice to be popular and feted but I wished in the second seven years I was not well known and you realise the value of private life.

“That is why I can identify with Marcus who is very successful but does not want that personal identity.”

At the same time Sheepshanks can understand why Town fans would like to be able to identify with the club owner, even though chief executive Simon Clegg has now been appointed as the public face on the Blues.

Sheepshanks said: “It is human nature that for something as important in the community as Ipswich Town for people to want to identify with a figurehead.

“They want someone to love or someone to hate and football clubs are never going to be only successful so you have to be prepared to take the rough with the smooth.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the amount of rough if I'm honest as nothing prepared me for the delights of the smooth.

“The extremes have been more than I would ever have anticipated.”