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Kings of Anglia Issue 10 Magazine Offer

Backseat move for Town chief

PUBLISHED: 20:00 17 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

UNDER-fire chairman David Sheepshanks is ready to take a back seat at Ipswich.

While Eton-educated Sheepshanks still enjoys the support of the majority of fans and shareholders, an increasing number have become disillusioned with his style of leadership.

By Mel Henderson

UNDER-fire chairman David Sheepshanks is ready to take a back seat at Ipswich.

While Eton-educated Sheepshanks still enjoys the support of the majority of fans and shareholders, an increasing number have become disillusioned with his style of leadership.

Many hold him largely responsible for the club's spectacular fall from grace, finishing fifth in the Premiership in 2001 and being relegated the following year.

And yesterday's sale of skipper Matt Holland to Charlton, the latest in a long line of big-name departures from Portman Road, brought more flak from the fans, many demanding that he should step down.

Sheepshanks has decided the time is right to become less involved in the day-to-day running of the club, with chief executive Derek Bowden taking on more of an up-front role.

The Town chairman confirmed today: "Derek Bowden was originally recruited to take over the day-to-day management of the business affairs of the club.

"The financial crisis over the last 12 months required both of us on a full-time basis.

"However, now that we are well into the recovery stage I am very keen that we should revert to our original plan."

Sheepshanks, 50, is ready to move out of the firing line after overseeing the most difficult period in the club's history.

Ipswich plunged into administration in February with debts of over £60million and only emerged at the end of May.

They paid a huge price for lavish spending in the transfer market and awarding players lucrative, long-term contracts that were unsustainable following relegation from the Premiership last year.

Sheepshanks' policy of going for growth rather than consolidation backfired spectacularly and hundreds of suppliers, the vast majority of them locally based, were left to count the cost.

Unsecured creditors received a paltry five pence in the pound as Ipswich wiped out millions of pounds of debt in obtaining a company voluntary arrangement.

It has been a taxing year for Sheepshanks, who has confided in friends that the strain has taken its toll.

He is keen to protect his family – wife Mona and children Tom and Sophie –and ensure they are not affected.

There is no suggestion of him stepping down as chairman, a role he inherited in 1995, but he is keen to shed some of the responsibility.

Sheepshanks may have made his move earlier, but he was particularly keen to stay at the helm as the club dealt with the traumatic administration period.

Bowden, 46, was appointed almost a year ago at a reported salary of £150,000 a year plus bonuses.

He was CEO of advertising giants Saatchi & Saatchi, where he had profit and loss responsibility for a business with a turnover in excess of £400 million.

Apart from his challenging role – he could not have envisaged a more demanding first 12 months – Bowden was given a seat on the board of directors.

It was always intended that Bowden, while still reporting directly to the chairman, would have a major role to play in taking the club forward.

Sheepshanks is believed to have taken a pay cut after the most recent accounts revealed his earnings for the year to June 30 2002 as £129,000, with a further £12,000 in pension payments.

He worked for no salary for his first few years in the post, but collected a £250,000 "performance bonus" on top of his £125,000 salary in the 2000-2001 financial year.

Sheepshanks added: "Derek Bowden is a first-class professional business manager who will add to our business and, going forward, pay for himself many times over."

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