Sheepshanks linked with top FA post

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks is today being linked with the high power chief executive role at the Football Association vacated last night by Brian Barwick.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Town chairman David Sheepshanks is today being linked with the high power chief executive role at the Football Association vacated last night by Brian Barwick.

Sheepshanks has had his duties at Portman Road radically reduced in recent weeks after his role at the club was made non-executive with greatly reduced reimbursement.

He has made no secret of his desire to work at the highest level of the game, and is well respected within FA circles.

Sheepshanks is a former chairman of the Football League, and he is currently on the boards of the both the FA and the Football League. And with time on his hands after the Marcus Evans era at Portman Road saw his responsibilities drastically dwindle, he may well be a big player in the hunt to find a suitable replacement for Barwick - the man who headed the appointments of both Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello as England coach.

David Gill from Manchester United is the early favourite to replace former TV executive Barwick, who does not officially leave his post until the turn of the year.

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Another candidate is the FA's chief operating officer, Alex Horne, the former boss of Wembley, who had already been handed many of Barwick's responsibilities.

But Sheepshanks is bound to be in consideration for a role that has a big say in determining so much that goes on within English football.

Reports indicate that Barwick, believed to be on £450,000 a year, was unable to carry on working with FA chairman Lord Triesman.

After the eras of Mark Palios, Adam Crozier and Graham Kelly, Barwick will at least leave the FA free of any stigma of controversy.

He may also point to his strong record, which includes building Wembley and gaining agreement for the National Football Centre in Burton, as well as the record TV deals he negotiated, as proof his departure is to the detriment of the organisation.

However, Triesman is a man who clearly likes to get his own way, and it remains to be seen whether this would deflect Sheepshanks from taking over from Barwick.

A Labour peer, Triesman has made sweeping changes since becoming the first independent chairman of the FA at the start of the year.

He was not close to Barwick and felt he lacked the necessary business skills to modernise the organisation.

Perhaps Sheepshanks will be his man, and there would appear to be no reason why Sheepshanks could not combine this role with his figurehead duties at Portman Road.

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