Town sign-up Olympic hot shot

HE has been described as a visionary, was one of the youngest majors in the army and he wields huge influence in the world of sport.Ipswich Town's new signing could be the shrewdest and most influential transfer in the club's recent history.

Simon Tomlinson

HE has been described as a visionary, was one of the youngest majors in the army and he wields huge influence in the world of sport.

Ipswich Town's new signing could be the shrewdest and most influential transfer in the club's recent history.

Simon Clegg, the former British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive, is set to take up a top role at Portman Road, possibly before the summer.

He is expected to become the public face of enigmatic owner Marcus Evans, who he has been in talks with over the �250,000-a-year position.

The 49-year-old will also help dictate the future strategy of the club.

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News of the appointment has been met with a mixed response by Town fans.

Colin Kreidewolf, secretary of the Ipswich Town Supporters' Trust, today welcomed the possibility of a high-profile figure fronting the club.

He said: “It looks like he will be the mouthpiece of Marcus Evans. The club has not had a public face since David Sheepshanks took on an executive role around the time Marcus Evans took over.”

But he added: “Simon Clegg is an interesting person and has an excellent CV and has excellent contacts in the world of sport, but how much does he know about running a football club?

“I would also be interested to know what exactly his role will be.”

Mr Clegg stepped down from the BOA last December after overseeing the British team at 12 Olympic Games, six as chef de mission (team leader) - including the hugely successful Beijing team that finished fourth in the medal table with an unprecedented 47 medals, 19 gold, 13 silver and 15 bronze.

Ipswich Town declined to comment on Thursday and were unavailable yesterday.

What do you think of the appointment? Write to Your Letters, The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A FORMER member of the 7th Parachute regiment, Simon Clegg joined the army as a private and rose to the rank of major at the age of 29.

He missed out on the chance to represent his country in skiing at the Sarajevo Winter Olympics due to operational priorities and was a member of the UK's rapid reaction force.

He managed the British biathlon team before joining the BOA in 1989 as assistant general secretary after being the Olympic team's quartermaster.

Clegg rose to become the BOA's first chief executive in 1997 but was replaced by current CEO Andy Hunt at the behest of the association chairman Lord Moynihan last year.

Clegg is married to Hilary and has two children, Lucy and Toby, and is understood to have already been house-hunting in East Anglia to where he will move from Surrey.

The dedicated skier, and occasional golfer, already has links with the area as he is a listed supporter of SnOasis.

SIMON Clegg's contacts book must be bulging at the seams with heavyweight names.

He commanded the respect of The Queen in being awarded an OBE in 2000 after the Sydney Games and an MBE in 2006 after being part of the successful 2012 London bid committee.

He is also widely-tipped to receive a knighthood in the next Queen's Birthday Honours list.

He has also hobnobbed with Gordon Brown during his hugely successful role in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and was described by powerhouse Olympian Sir Steve Redgrave as a visionary.

Mark Ripper, 27, of Clapgate Lane, Ipswich, said: “It would be nice. If Simon Clegg is more inclined to speak to the public, it could help the situation.”

Norman Ambrose, 70, of Winston Avenue, Ipswich, said: “Anything that can improve the team, must be good. They certainly need something, because, expectations are higher than results this season.”

Mark Ward, 38, of Adastral Close, Felixstowe, said: “They can't do much worse. They're on a dismal run of personnel. He's got a wide scope of talent and his wide-ranging experience will be useful.”

Luke Martin, 19, of Chaucer Road, Ipswich, said: “It's a good idea. It will raise the profile of the club and performances will improve. His extra status will be good for the club.”

James Johns, 65, of Bristol Road, Ipswich, said: “If he points them in the right direction, he could be the solution. They need inspiration and if he's used to an Olympic standard, he could be a great help.”

David White, 46, of Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, said: “It's a waste of time. It won't make any difference.”

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