Clegg: Exciting Times Ahead for Town Wednesday, 6th Feb 2013 06:01
Exiting chief executive Simon Clegg believes Town have exciting times ahead, despite his four years at Portman Road failing to yield the success he had hoped for. Clegg’s departure by mutual consent was announced yesterday.
Why didn’t Town progress during his spell in charge? Clegg says it certainly wasn’t through a lack of effort or investment: “It would be easy, wouldn’t it, if there had been a lack of investment in the playing squad and you could turn round and say that was why. But I’ve signed 73 players since I came here four years ago.
“So no one could say that Marcus Evans is not committed to this football club and has not supported it in a massive way financially, but it has just not gelled on the pitch in the way we hoped it would do.
“Hindsight’s a great thing, isn’t it? I’ve worked predominantly with two managers who have not been able to deliver [success]. That said, I’ve got every confidence in Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor, I think they’re a fantastic team.
“I think Mick’s an awesome individual and I’m very confident about what the team can achieve going forward.
“I spoke to all the players up at the training ground this afternoon and I think with Mick at the helm, with Bryan Klug back running the academy now, there are exciting times ahead.”
Clegg’s relationship with fans wasn’t always an easy one, something he feels is part and parcel of the job, particularly when a club isn’t successful on the field.
“I recognise that fans need to vent their frustration on someone and I recognise that being chief executive, and acting chairman for the last couple of years, that goes with the territory,” he said.
“Do I think it’s justified? If I was in their position, I probably would think it was justified, but, of course, I’m not in their position, I’m in my position and I recognise that fans seldom have all the facts.
“They form their opinions on the facts that they have, what they read in the media, and more often than not I don’t make a point of publicly trying to justify every decision I make.
“I make [decisions] based upon the facts that I have to hand at that moment in time and if people don’t like that then I’m sorry, I’m accountable to Marcus.”
Former manager Roy Keane expressed his frustration that deals he hoped would go through weren’t completed during his time in charge, the signing of Shaun Derry from Crystal Palace particularly irking the former Manchester United man.
Clegg dismisses the suggestion that a situation such as that one was commonplace: “Of course it wasn’t. And ultimately, be very clear, the owner controls the purse strings at the club. I’m not trying to dress it up in any other way.
“I recognise that fans needed to vent their frustration on someone and as the public face of the business and the club, that was directed at me. Thankfully, I’ve got a fairly thick skin!”
Fans became similarly frustrated by the exits of the likes of Gareth McAuley, David Norris and Grant Leadbitter at their end of their contracts, but Clegg says it’s not down to the chief executive to make those judgements.
“Who makes that decision? Predominantly it’s the manager. Predominantly it’s the manager who is going ‘No, we shouldn’t be paying more than this for this particular player’. If the player isn’t prepared to accept it, then the player’s contract runs down.
“But, of course, everyone thinks we live in a bubble here and we wake up at the end of the season thinking ‘Crikey, we’ve let a player’s contract run down’.
“It really isn’t as simplistic as that. A lot of thought goes into what new contracts are offered to which players and when.”
Clegg, the British Olympic Association's chief executive prior to his time at Town, also dismisses the oft-made claim that owner Marcus Evans primarily brought him to Town due to his links with the Games: “I recognise that people want to make those connections but quite frankly it’s without any justification. I’ve not helped Marcus with Olympic matters for the last three years.
“People can judge me how they want to. I don’t think many people could have thrown much more into this football club than I have over the last four years.
“I’ve lived it, I’ve breathed it six days a week and even on the day off a week I had at home I was still working and was still on the computer, speaking to Marcus.”
Various players have had off-field issues during his time at the club which is something else he feels comes with the territory.
“I think that’s the job of a chief executive,” he said. “I have a very lucky background of managing soldiers, who traditionally are not without their problems themselves.
“I’ve managed some very difficult situations at the Olympics, incredible situations at the Olympics which have never got into the public domain, some instances much worse than I’ve had to deal with at Ipswich Town.
“I have an empathy with the performer and I see my job as the chief executive to do my best to alleviate some of the peripheral noise and distractions so they can focus on what they are employed to do, which is to play football.
“If you can help take those distractions away, it should allow them to deliver better on the pitch. And that’s what everything’s about. Everything in this business depends on what happens on the pitch for 90 minutes on a Saturday.
“If we play well, we hardly get any complaints. If we play badly and we get a bad result, everything is to blame, from the chief executive down, and most of the complaints land on my desk. But it goes with the territory.”
He feels his job at Town differed from his Olympics role quite significantly: “In my previous life you had one event every four years, possibly two if you include the Winter Olympics.
“This event is relentless, week in, week out, sometimes twice a week, for nine months of the season. Then everyone thinks that you go to sleep for the three months of the close season, but it’s an incredibly busy time when a huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes.
“That’s why I’ve made the decision now. Firstly, I’ve been discussing it for some time with Marcus. Secondly, when I did focus in on it we agreed that I would stay until the end of the transfer window to oversee that.
“That finished at 11pm on Thursday. Friday was the day before a home game and I didn’t want to announce it then because the focus would be on me when it should be on the players and the team. That’s why I’ve announced it this week.
“That will allow the new, incoming team to deal with matters between now and the end of the season and then really get to grips with things in the close season.”
We move on! One really positive note that has come out of the last week for me and its not something that had crossed my mind before is that IF (and I don't believe it will happen soon) the manager moved on for a bigger challenge, we have a fantastic assistant in place with experience who could step straight in. When was the last time we could say that?
I think 73 players signed in 4 years says it all. Hardly conducive to a being able to build a settled side and its little wonder we've struggled due to poor decisions from the managers in charge during Mr Clegg's time here. Still, as he says, its easy with the benefit of hindsight.
Good luck to Simon in his future endeavours and thanks for all your hard work at ITFC. Hopefully he's right and better times are ahead because these last 5 years have been painful!
I have no particular like or dislike of Clegg and i am indifferent to his leaving. Undoubtedly he has presided over a hugely unsuccessful period in the clubs history, but does this make it his fault ? , no not necessarily, sometimes things in football, sport and life just dont work out without anyone having done something hugely wrong. Im sure he made some mistakes (as did the main two managers he worked with) but there are some interesting points in these pieces and some of the comments on here are just plain ignorant. How can anyone suggest he showed a lack of commitment when he has moved away from his family for four years, seeing them once a week. It is very easy to sit and criticise and seems to be a hobby of many on here. Criticism is not always a bad thing and sometimes is deserved and can be constructive , but if you are going to criticise you must have the facts, a point which escapes the majority on here.
Don't blame him for McCauley or Norris they were offered contracts and they turned them down and as for Leadbitter well that was no loss. But I do blame him for not trying harder to get Austin at the club and a few others.
I would be keen to learn how hard he fought to disuade Evans and Keane from selling Rhodes! Anyone from the shop cashiers right up to the board could see that was a completely stupid decision on so many levels. I'd like to think if i was CEO i'd have been fighting nail and tooth to convince Keane and Evans otherwise especially seeing how baron the market was for quality strikers whether proven or otherwise!
And lets be honest, that kind of cash wasn't great business when you look at the Wickham price tag. The warning signs were there when he scored 1 in 2 on loan at Brentford.
An open and honest appraisal of his situation. Despite what a lot on here said, he was 100% for the club and like PJ was desperate for success. Unfortunately for him PJ and us, the supporters, it didn't happen. A good egg and he will go away a very disappointed man. Probably, despite all the disparaging remarks on here over the years, he has always had success in what he has done.
Let's all move on and get behind the new team. Hopefully ME will become more public and give the supporters a leader to focus on.
Keanish - one of the good things all the managers have said about Clegg and Evans is they keep out of footballing decisions so I wouldn't expect them to question the sale, particularly of a young player who had yet to prove himself at Championship level.
As soon as the CEO and Owner start interfering in transfers, either in our out, you end up with Forest and Blackburn....
Personally I think there's far too many harsh and uneducated nonsense comments across the forums lately regarding Clegg. No one on this forum (possibly Phil being the most qualified) actually knew the ins and out what Clegg did for the club and to be honest it wasnt any of our business anyway. Evans (a successful multi-millionaire businessman who I'm sure is no fool) obviously trusted him to do a job and paid him well for it. We'll probably never know a quarter of what he did for the club, so it seems foolish to comment about what he did or didnt do - we dont know and probably shouldnt. As fans we over-step the mark far too often and expect 100% transparency and a twitter feed of continuous news and information, which is idiotic. Personally I thank Cleggy for the hard work and commitment for his dedication and service and feel sorry he hasnt got more rewards for it. The club is our passion, but its been his livelyhood and so wish him well wherever he goes.
Thanks for that explanation Cleggy! It will help for some fans to be more aware of what goes on and it sounds like a very high pressure existence. Some fans of course are just blind angry people that use footy to air their anger, no helping them. Good luck and thanks for the commitment.
Some town fans and have no ambition and too many were busy making excuses for Jewell right until the end. Poor old Jas and others were lambasted for daring to say anything negative and stood bt applauding while our club slowly festered. By contrast I remember Sheepshanks coming over to our fans in Moscow before the game and being given a terrific reception. Clegg says he worked really hard but so did Eddie the Eagle.
Its not about how many players, more the quality or in this case the lack of it. The wage structure should be more about the total wage bill than individual salaries. Although it's a team game a prolific goalscorer or influential players in general can make the difference between success or failure, these types should be earning the most or we simply wont have them. We have loads of run of the mill players and below but no stars unfortunately !
Unfortunately we have heard that the good times are coming so many times from Mr Clegg but for one reason or another it has not happened. It is ironic therefore that the most positive we have felt for a long time (although we are not out of the woods yet) coincides the Mr Cleggs departure. Every year we are spun with optimism around about season ticket renewal time but this year we need new incentives not just price freezing but something to get more bums on seats otherwise our dwindling attendances could plummet further. Of course results may dictate attendances over and above season ticket attendance but we need to bring the casual fan in on a more regular basis. Lets see how the new regime will tackle this.
He's not been my favourite bloke over the past few years not least because he's a bit of a cold fish and has asked us in that superior detached manner of his to accept some pretty shoddy performance both on and off the pitch at the same time as embarassing gaffs and price hikes. The extent to which ME is behind all that we are about to find out and as someone who's been saying thank god we don't have an interfering owner to all and sundry in recent months, I may be about to eat my words. But three things define Clegg's tenure for me: 1. The disgraceful treatment of Magic and the timing of his sacking 2. Roy Keane (and from the start I thought this was an abject decision) 3. A complete absence of a player recruiment strategy (loan, loan, loan, £1.5 m on Paul Taylor, loan, loan etc etc). Sorry but like it or not, he has been a failutre as a CX and I just hope ME's judgement is better next time around. We need people who understand football and business and can successfully combine the two (or leave MM to do the former and just concentrate on marketing and turnstiles!).
"But I’ve signed 73 players since I came here four years ago."
Don't be so proud Simon, that's half of the problem.
I never really liked Clegg and I'm not sad to see him go, but he doesn't half have a point with some of the things he says about the fans. In truth, most of the time they haven't got a clue what goes on.
He doesn't seem like the devil that we make him out to be. Like i said yesterday i think a lot of us vented frustrations at Clegg that should have been to Evans. Ultimately, it was up to him not to agree the wage demands of your Charlie Austin's and Tomasz Kuszczak's not Clegg. I think to be in his role you should have some form of Football knowledge and this was evidently missing, however i wish him well in the future.
"I've signed 73 players" : Clegg is saying that as if that is his saving grace, that is exactly the reason we have been going in the wrong direction. Sign Charlie Austin, keep Jordan Rhodes and we have a top quality front two. Instead let Rhodes go, miss out on Austin and the result is we have to chop and change bringing in about 20 different strikers instead!
Also, stop saying hindsight is a wonderful thing as an excuse, there was about 15,000+ fans that had the FORESIGHT to suggest that we shouldn't let Rhodes go!!!
I would add a thanks for his time, and obviously he was committed and wanted success just as we do, however I think often one too many excuses from him. Commitment and passion is half the job, all business absolutely no ability to identify the right players during the past 4 years.