Former Ipswich Town chairman Sheepshanks on American takeover, Evans' tenure and an 'exciting' future
- Credit: Archant
Former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks is excited for the future following the US takeover at Portman Road.
Marcus Evans has sold to American investors in a deal believed to be worth around £40million, heralding the start of a new era at the Suffolk club.
Sheepshanks, who was at the helm at Portman Road prior to Evans taking control in 2007, having overseen promotion to the Premier League, a fifth-placed finish and a European adventure prior to the club’s financial problems, is hopeful better days are now ahead for the club.
The former chairman has discussed Evans’ tenure and exit, his great wish is to see the club reconnect with its supporters and community under new ownership, as well as the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.
All that, though, is underpinned with a feeling of optimism.
“While it hasn’t worked out as he, or any of us, would have liked it, Marcus deserves our thanks for having invested huge amounts in our club, especially in the early years,” he began.
“He has clearly taken his time, responsibly not selling the club until, in his opinion, he found buyers who convinced him that they had both the funds to invest and the long-term best interests of the club at heart.
“So an exciting new era beckons; at any football club it is full of unknowns yet this latest chapter of US Ownership feels full of hope and potential.
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“The further we have slipped in recent years, the harder it becomes to bounce back, however we have seen plenty of examples of how, when clubs do finally get it right, they can quickly reclimb the mountain.
“Think of Leeds and Wolves, who both languished in this division and yet are now robust competitors once more at the top level. We can take heart that we used to compete equally with Southampton and Leicester, even our neighbours Norwich: they have demonstrated how it can be done to rebuild sustainably. Plenty to emulate!
“As one who has worn the mantel, I wish Mike O’Leary, Brett Johnson and their colleagues a very warm welcome and every success at Ipswich Town. In our fans’ minds, there is not a better club in the land! We are unique, we have a proud heritage and great traditions, and we are itching to recreate the happy times at Portman Road once again. The pent- up frustrations of all supporters is, I sense, ready to burst into an unstoppable force for progress in this new era.
“That said, it will not be easy. We are in the worst position the club has been in since 1953 and the new ownership team and Paul Cook will need all their skills, our support and our patience to realise our mutual dreams.
“Mike O’Leary was profoundly right when he said in the press conference that there are 23 other teams in this division (and the Championship) and that to get promoted we have be better in every way than our competitors.
“One fervent hope of mine is that we will re-embrace, re-engage and re-involve the community as a core theme of this new era. Ipswich Town is a community club, it belongs to different shareholders from time to time, however it really belongs to the people of Ipswich, of Suffolk and our wider supporter bases throughout the UK and beyond, to places like Sweden and now hopefully USA!
“It is my experience that success on and off the field are intangibly yet inextricably linked. They are NOT mutually exclusive. So I take great comfort in hearing the new owners say that they intend to be ‘invested on and off the pitch’.
“This can only bode well. It’s time to galvanise the enormous support base that I feel sure still exists and equally to excite the younger generation and families to come back, to get local kids wearing blue and white again. Community interaction is key and has been missing for too long.
“Our successes or failures are a bellwether for the local mood and when we fly, as we will again, businesses across our county get a phenomenal boost.
“Time to rally the Blue and White Army. I am excited! Up the Town!”
Sheepshanks was Town chairman between 1995 and 2009, before stepping down and being replaced by Evans following the sale of the club in 2007.