IRISH LEAGUE: Baxter’s five-year contract boost the starting point for Crusaders boss

Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter pictured with club treasurer Tommy Whiteside at Seaview after penning a fresh five-year contract. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter pictured with club treasurer Tommy Whiteside at Seaview after penning a fresh five-year contract. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Stephen Baxter’s fresh five-year contract as Crusaders manager will provide an extended opportunity to expand club growth across the twin targets of professionalism and community.

Baxter has been at the core of Crusaders’ rise from second-tier football to the top of the Irish League senior stage over the past decade.

His latest deal to remain at the club until June 2023 was signed based on a belief of continued development.

“The contract is very much in line with the vision of the club overall,” said Baxter. “We have plans to increase the level of professionalism towards a model established by clubs like Dundalk and others within the League of Ireland.

“The goal would be for morning and evening sessions and to give our players a better opportunity to focus on football.

“That is one aspect but the other is to continue to strengthen our community links and to increase the role of this club as a focal point and hub for the people.

“There is an awareness of the importance of increased revenue streams to allow a club to continue to prove competitive at the top level.

“Ultimately, I would never sign anything if I was not happy at the club and a large part of that comes from the sense of everyone on and off the pitch working together.

“Aside from the dedication of the players and coaching staff towards our collective goals, there is so much that goes on behind the scenes at this club and we want to kick on.”

Crusaders chairman Stephen Bell described Baxter as “the keystone in our club’s development and success since 2005”, praising the highly-decorated former Irish League forward for the “unparalleled professionalism, drive, enthusiasm, and, of course, success” as “the man to lead our club as we move forward and implement our recently published 2018-2022 club strategy”.