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Town crisis - special investigation

PUBLISHED: 12:07 03 December 2002 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 March 2010

DAVID Sheepshanks could hardly claim to be first to coin the phrase: "I have a dream."

The late civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, beat him to it - by some 32 years - when he delivered his own, original version.

DAVID Sheepshanks could hardly claim to be first to coin the phrase: "I have a dream."

The late civil rights leader, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, beat him to it - by some 32 years - when he delivered his own, original version.

But give him his due, Sheepshanks' vision was not as wildly over-optimistic as some people speculated upon his appointment as chairman more than seven years ago.

However, I suspect that if the Ipswich supremo repeated the same words now, in outlining his hopes for a brighter future, his critics would not be slow to tell him: "Dream on."

Rewind to August 10 1995 and Sheepshanks was announcing: "I am under no illusions at the enormity of the task.

"We have had the worst two years in living memory, we have been beset by snakes, hamstrung by contracts and finances are not unlimited."

He also described Ipswich as "sinking like a stone" - an apt choice of words. They fitted the bill at the time and, he must fear, could yet prove appropriate all over again.

The worry is that Sheepshanks' reign has turned full circle, that the club is back where it started when he first seized the opportunity to take the helm.

That is not to ignore past achievements, both on and off the field, but to confront the reality - that the patient is ill and in desperate need of treatment.

In other words, what Sheepshanks has done once, he must repeat all over again, which is arguably an even bigger challenge than to have succeeded first time round.

He must spearhead a recovery more spectacular than the one he engineered in the first place, which means overcoming a financial crisis that dwarfs the situation he inherited upon his appointment.

Has Mr Sheepshanks been a success or a failure as chairman of ITFC? We want your opinions in the Great Town Debate. Write, fax or email with your verdict on the Sheepshanks era.

For the full story see tonight's Evening Star – the first in a series of reports looking at the crisis facing Ipswich Town.

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