Sheepshanks: Tackle cost us millions

TO this very day David Sheepshanks remains convinced Ipswich Town would already be back in the Premier League except for a tackle by Leicester City's Dion Dublin.

Derek Davis

TO this very day David Sheepshanks remains convinced Ipswich Town would already be back in the Premier League except for a tackle by Leicester City's Dion Dublin.

It was February 12, and in a game that Town went on to win 2-1 with a goal from Shefki Kuqi and an own goal from Dorus DeVries, Dublin went in for the tackle and the Finn was forced off with a gashed knee.

Although James Scowcroft, who played for the Foxes in that game, arrived on loan a couple of days later he never found form and Town lost three of the next four games, drawing another, until Kuqi was able to return.

A disputed penalty gave Wigan a 1-0 win over the Blues in March and Paul Jewell's side leapfrogged Town into top spot where they stayed while Joe Royle's team finished third and then lost to West Ham in the play-offs, after having been 12 points better off than Alan Pardew's Hammers.

Sheepshanks said: “Joe Royle did a sensational job and we should have been promoted. In 2005 we were leading the league from mid-December to mid-March but then we lost Shefki Kuqi to a dreadful tackle.

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“Shefki and Darren Bent were a sensational pairing, an unlikely pair maybe, but they were terrorising the league and without that injury we would have won the league.

“I know it is not about one person but I maintain to this day we would have won the league but instead we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

That continues to rankle with Sheepshanks mainly because if Town had gone up that year the club's creditors would have received 20% of what was owed as part of the CVA.

Sheepshanks said: “I wanted so much from a sense of honour to pay back the community for what had gone wrong a couple of years earlier.

“I know it would not have paid everyone back entirely but promotion in 2005 would have gone a long way to help everyone.”

Instead it was clear then that the club would instead have to be sold and so started the search for investment.

Sheepshanks said: “When we weren't promoted that year it was clear we were going to have to attract new money.

“We were running the club on a shoestring but we needed new money.

“The search took me everywhere. The east coast of the States, middle-east, far-east, I turned over every stone around the word in the search for investment and people knew we were looking.

“Ironically Marcus Evans found us. He wrote, in fact it was Martin Pitcher who actually signed the letter inquiring about buying the club.

“We started the dialogue and had a five-month courtship and now the club is in tremendous shape to go forward again.”