Stephen Baxter closes in on 20 years at Crusaders with new deal

Stephen Baxter says it only took "a few minutes" to sort out the contract extension which will take him to 20 years as manager of Crusaders.

By Steven Crawford
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 1:00 pm

Baxter, who led the Crues to Irish Cup glory earlier this month, has agreed a new two-year extension at Seaview, which will run until at least the end of the 2024-25 season.

The 56-year-old paid tribute to the Crusaders board after putting pen-to-paper on his contract extension.

“I am really pleased that the club are in a good position and going forward we have really good plans as to where we want to try and get to," he told the club website.

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Stephen Baxter has signed a two-year extension to his current deal with Crusaders

"When things like this comes around it is very easy to put together.

"My relationship with the club here over a long period of time has been so easy and contracts are discussed and talked about in five minutes between us.

"It makes it so easy when you work with really good people and I have that at board level working with Ronnie, Tommy and Mark and all the other guys that have have been so easy to work with over the years dating back to Jim Semple and John Mairs.

"All of that has been a pleasure to work with.

"When you have a strong board with good structures behind them and know the ethos of the club and what they are looking for it makes my job easy.

"When I know what they want and the type of establishment we are trying to build here it's great so I am delighted to get it done.

"As I say we have been having a quick chat around it over the last week or so and it was only a matter of getting the formalities worked out and it only took a few minutes to do it.”

Last season Baxter reached the milestone of managing the Crues for the 850th time.

Topping the 1,000 mark is now within his sights after agreeing this new deal but the Crusaders boss is only focused on the job in hand at present.

"Things like that don't honestly interest me," he said.

"You know it's nice when they come around and the records will show that but I don't sit and think about it day to day.

"You know there is so much to get on with in football and that is the day to day and since the season has finished we are talking to players, we are looking at areas we want to strengthen or maybe players that are moving on whatever the case may be and there is always something going on with the football club every day of the week.

"That's how it works and we are building towards a new season. We only have four weeks off and yet we are still planning our preparations and we will go into pre-season and get ready for Europe so all of those things will be on my mind over the next few weeks.

"So the records will speak for themselves and whatever milestones we hit it will be nice to look back on in a few years time, but for now we are heads down, work incredibly hard to make sure we stay competitive.

"The league is getting more competitive year by year, teams are improving, the professionalism that has come into the game has been extraordinary in the last few years, so in order for us to compete we have to keep working harder and bring the right players here to keep moving the club forward."

Club Chairman Ronnie Millar welcomed the news calling Baxter the "best manager in the country".

"Stephen signing is absolutely fantastic," he said.

"It was no-brainer because at the end of the day Stephen has produced the goods both as a player and manager for such a long time.

"The service he has given this club and the trophies he has brought here has been wonderful.

"It was very easy dealing with Stephen over the contract talks and especially after winning the Irish Cup and we have the best manager in the country by far.”