Sheepshanks hints at his Town future

DAVID Sheepshanks last night hinted that he might be ready to step down as Ipswich Town chairman after the Blues returned to the Premier League.The EADT can reveal that Sheepshanks is involved in a new global sports venture advising government bodies, including South Africa, and a number of football leagues but continues to work at Portman Road on a part-time basis.

By Derek Davis

DAVID Sheepshanks last night hinted that he might be ready to step down as Ipswich Town chairman after the Blues returned to the Premier League.

The EADT can reveal that Sheepshanks is involved in a new global sports venture advising government bodies, including South Africa, and a number of football leagues but continues to work at Portman Road on a part-time basis.

The Blues supremo insisted that he is still fully committed to Ipswich Town and his anger at past failures had galvanised his determination to take the club back into the top flight.


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Sheepshanks said: “I'm here to see the club into the Premiership - beyond that I couldn't say. One day it will be time for someone else. We have got a job to do here, which is to get back into the Premiership and I firmly believe we are on the threshold of doing that.”

While a new chairman would be chosen from the Blues board, no director has yet been earmarked for the position although appraisals of all board members have recently been undertaken.

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Sheepshanks said: “Successors on boards are usually chosen by the remaining so when John Kerr stood down that is how I was chosen.

“We have recently had confidential board evaluations and the board have been extremely supportive and continue to be so.

“Until such time that they wish me to stand down I can't envisage there will be any change. By the same token if I felt that I could not contribute to us returning to the Premiership then I would step aside but that is not the case.”

The new company Sheepshanks has set up with partners, which include a former commercial director at Manchester United and sports lawyers, is called Alexander Ross, and he has been appointed chairman.

Sheepshanks is working on behalf of governing bodies, government departments and football leagues around the world advising on all football matter ranging from commercial to academy to community integration, corporate governance and regulation.

Sheepshanks is currently working on football projects in South Africa and the Middle East using his wide experience in running Ipswich Town.

He is the unpaid chairman of the charity-registered Ipswich Town Community Trust and serves on other charity and fund-raising organisations, including the Suffolk Foundation part of the national community foundation network.

Sheepshanks is also used by speaking agents Abingdon Management giving talks to multi-national companies in the UK and in Europe.

He continues to serve on the boards at the Football Association and the Football League, on an unpaid basis.

When Derek Bowden was taken on by Ipswich Town as chief executive in 2002, Sheepshanks went part time and works a minimum of two-and a half days a week, for an annual salary of £70,000 a year plus a car allowance.

But it is well known that he puts in many more hours than that on club business and recently invested £100,000 into Ipswich Town.

Sheepshanks said: “I started another business because I need to generate additional income but it is not detrimental to the club; it is probably complimentary.

“I feel totally privileged to lead this special organisation and am utterly determined to see it prosper again. Derek Bowden and I work extremely well together and we are lucky to have him and the many other good people who work for the club behind the scenes.

“The club is the type of business that will absorb as much of your time as you let it. So from a personal point of view I have to be disciplined with my time.”

After returning from a family holiday in Australia and New Zealand, Sheepshanks will head the new share issue launch and close season planning.

But he is also scheduled to give speeches to the Institute of Directors and for the South African government.

The Blues board, and Sheepshanks in particular, came under heavy fire following relegation in 2002 followed by administration but the same people have attracted new investors and directors to take the business forward.

They have shown they didn't cling to power to the detriment of the club's recovery and Sheepshanks has led the way in attracting more than £5m new investment over the past three years.

Sheepshanks said: “I don't feel I could have done more to encourage investment. Even to the point that could have meant a change in the board although I'm not suggesting that should happen. The board has been resolute and has taken responsibility in affecting this recovery.

“No one can say that board is an obstacle to investment or change or improvement in the club. Every one of us is here because of our love and devotion to the club.

“Recent years have at times been extremely onerous but every one of the directors is determined to see success and see the fruits of our labours realised in Premiership football but it can never be done with undue risk or imprudent speculation.

“Now, as a club we are once again close to being masters of our own destiny.”

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