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Bristol City Confirm Ashton Exit
Tuesday, 13th Apr 2021 11:20

Bristol City have announced that CEO Mark Ashton is stepping down at the end of the season when it is expected he will join Town in the same role.

As reported by TWTD in February, Ashton has been the man the Blues’ new owners Gamechanger 20 have wanted as their CEO, the 49-year-old having previously worked with Town chairman Mike O’Leary at Oxford and West Brom.

Rumours that Ashton’s departure was imminent have been circulating online since last night and the Robins have now confirmed that he will leave on May 31st.

“I’ve enjoyed working closely with Mark throughout his time here,” owner Steve Lansdown told the Bristol City official website.

“It’s disappointing to see him go but I understand there comes a time in everyone’s career when they want to take on a new challenge.

“Mark has been an integral part of what we have created over the last few years and he has helped build a strong foundation for the club to move forward from. His work as an EFL Director has also been of benefit in raising the club’s profile.

“I’d like to thank Mark for all his work and everyone at Bristol City wish him the best for the future.”

Ashton said: “I want to thank the Lansdown family for their support over the last five years. It’s been an incredible role and a privilege to be the CEO of Bristol City.

“I want to give credit to the staff who have worked tirelessly here and who I will miss very much. The club is in excellent hands with such dedicated and passionate people.

“During my time here, it has been a priority to steer the club in a proper and stable way, to see the integration of the academy and women’s team into a one-club structure, and of course to see the completion of the Robins High Performance Centre.

“The club is in a great position to take the next step forward and it feels like now is the right time for myself to move on and embrace a new challenge.”

Ashton, who has been an FA board member since July 2018, became chief operating officer at Ashton Game in January 2016 then in July 2017 was named chief executive officer, having previously worked with the Robins as a consultant helping to establish their talent identification and recruitment system.

Named Championship CEO of the Year in 2019, Ashton has been credited with wily transfer dealings which have seen the Robins net significant profits in the player trading market, while Ashton Gate and the club’s training infrastructure have also been transformed during his time with the club.

However, the appointment of Dean Holden as manager last summer, this season’s transfer business and a failure to make a serious challenge for promotion to the Premier League despite Lansdown’s very significant fortune have led to fan criticism. With Ashton’s exit appearing close, a Bristol Post story reflected on his time at Ashton Gate earlier today.

A former youth goalkeeper with West Brom, Ashton was on the Baggies’ board from 1990 to 2014. In June 2004 he was appointed chief executive of Watford and he spent four and a half years with the Hornets before a fourth months spell in the same role at Wycombe Wanderers in 2009.

Five years as chairman with Worcestershire-based consumer services company Grove Life followed before he and new Blues chairman O’Leary were part of a consortium which took charge at Oxford United. Ashton subsequently spent a year and a half as CEO at the Kassam Stadium.

Since May 2010 he has been the chairman of Tactical Change, which is described as an “international sports management company specialising in football management; particularly the business of football. Providing cutting edge solutions to the football industry, from player trading and recruitment to innovative commercial models that drive revenues and profitability”.

Speaking about the appointment of a CEO and Ashton at last Wednesday’s press conference, O’Leary said: “We’ve got a process under way and we’ve got people we’re looking at, and the timing of when we can recruit really hinges on circumstances for the people that we’re examining.

“I know Mark very well, I have done for a long time and he’s a good guy. But, no I’m not going to speculate further on people at this point, it’s too early.”

As previously reported, we understand Robins head of operations/club secretary Luke Werhun has also been ear-marked for a role at Portman Road by the new set-up. However, there is as yet no confirmation that he will be leaving Ashton Gate.

Photo: Matchday Images

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ArnieM added 11:23 - Apr 13
Honestly not sure if I’m happy or not with this outcome .
Anyone else ?

Gilesy added 11:25 - Apr 13
I think this is exactly what Lambert was calling for and perhaps is the solution to one of the problems of the Evans era. I suspect this is good news?

itfcpaul added 11:26 - Apr 13
Why wouldn't you be happy? Which other CEO at a Football Club do you know more about? The rants of BCFC fans aimed at a CEO really shouldn't worry anyone, after all how many actually know what his role is and what he does?

itfcpaul added 11:27 - Apr 13
Lambert did only call for it within days of him going, the period before tat he was OK with it and said we were amazing

tractorlad01 added 11:29 - Apr 13
Not a Good. Bristol City fans reaction tell me everything I need to know. They’re overjoyed that he’s leaving them.

tractorlad01 added 11:29 - Apr 13
Not Good. Bristol City fans reaction tell me everything I need to know. They’re overjoyed that he’s leaving them.

boroughblue added 11:33 - Apr 13
Lets just put it into context, we were delighted when MM left, then look what happened to us and look what he's doing with Cardiff now...

Fans reaction to someone leaving isn't always the full story

North_London_Blue added 11:40 - Apr 13
Right decision or not what is good is the decisiveness. It’s probably who we want and we secured it with little fuss. That’s not something we could often say about the previous regime. Hopefully that translates in to the player recruitment

sospier added 11:58 - Apr 13
For goodness sake some of you are never happy.You moan about the players the manager the owner and now your moaning about a new CEO. Will you ever be happy.Just get behind the owners and support whatever they do.Exciting times ahead for us all.

Suffolkboy added 12:02 - Apr 13
Without any prejudice ,without knowing the man, but reliant solely on what we’ve so far seen and heard from M O’Leary and from our new owners , it’s not unreasonable to believe they know clearly the structure required for ITFC ,and in a like manner are clear minded about what qualities and characteristics they seek for particular roles .
It’s very easy to speculate ,to seek out opinion or rumour ,but not easy to substantiate any misgivings without more intimate knowledge either of the person or how they fulfilled the demands previously placed on their shoulders .
ITFC is definitely going to be revitalised ( not revolutionised ) and given the spoken intent to rebuild and awareness of values,standards and ethos of previous eras of success ,then we should place our trust in the new team at the top !

Blue_badge added 12:03 - Apr 13
Apart from those who don't like change away from the easy touch for players and staff that we've become, a CEO with all that on his CV is great news for ITFC. A few weeks ago League Two was at the back of people's minds, now we look to have an incoming CEO reknowned for "wily transfer dealings" and who has transformed "Ashton Gate and the club’s training infrastructure".
In the 21st Century, what is not to like?

rfretwell added 12:03 - Apr 13
Until recent years Bristol City were always a step change below Ipswich. That has changed during Mark Ashtons time there. Great that we will soon have the benefit of his high level football experience and expertise.

DaGremloid added 12:09 - Apr 13
Sospier, I TOTALLY agree with you: well stated. If we're going to have new owners - which most people wanted - you have to go with the choices they make and the way they want to run the club.

BlueRaider added 12:15 - Apr 13
Will he change his name to Mark Portman ???

Bobbiesboys added 12:26 - Apr 13
The building blocks are being put into place by the new owners. The whole takeover/club future has been meticulously planned by them, they know exactly what they want to achieve and how they intend to achieve it and who they want in strategic positions at our fantastic club, so brace your selves for very exciting times ahead. The alternative to these gentlemen would have been a continued decline, years of underfunding and our club aimlessly drifting into football obscurity. I know which course I want to follow and support! COYB

johnwarksshorts added 12:27 - Apr 13
Impressive cv, should be very good for us, we've been crying out for a proper football minded man at the helm. Good Times ahead I'm sure. COYB.

itfcserbia added 12:31 - Apr 13
New manager, new owners, new chairman, new CEO, new players - maybe we could do with some new fans as well. :)

peteswindon added 12:33 - Apr 13
The fact that he is leaving a solid championship club for us, must be a good sign that we are willing to invest.

trncbluearmy added 12:40 - Apr 13
Ignore supporters reaction, most of the time we do not have a clue about what is going on, look at the clubs he has been involved with, all better for his input and all much better run then ITFC has been

BeattiesBackPocket added 12:48 - Apr 13
The american owners are no mugs look what they’ve done previously. The important thing is we have zero structure at the club no plan despite evans saying we did and we need one. You can’t improve without structure and a plan like Norwich Brentford etc. Oh and by the way this is the guy who bought Webster off our owner for 5 million and sold him for over 25 million all within a year so clearly knows peoples worth and won’t take derisory offers like our former owner did

TimmyH added 13:03 - Apr 13
Interesting...Bristol City have one of the richest owners in the Championship (Stephen Lansdown) but are renowned for selling and hence why they never look like going up though this is not always the case. Ashton seems to have been directed to make the club a profit over the last couple of seasons though selling with the club looking at Stadium improvements and planning.

Robins fans have found him quite divisive being one of the highest paid CEO's in the Championship and in general have thought his recruitment has generally been poor though their managers always have the last say. Recent managers have found him to be a good CEO though. Most interesting point is that Ashton recruited the entire medical team at Ashton Gate and believe it or not have had continued injury problems over the last season or so, also he has been inconsistent with communicating with fans - 'Bristol Times'

Let's hope the mentality is a bit different here, unlike their owner we aren't happy to stay in our league so as a CEO hopefully he'll be directed by the owners to have a completely different mindset.

Cakeman added 13:07 - Apr 13
Mark Ashton with his proven experience would be a good appointment I believe.
On another note, can anyone please advise if Lee O’Neil is still with us?

BangaloreBlues added 13:15 - Apr 13
Everyone that the new owners wanted in place are now in place, from manager to upstairs.
Whether anything to note happens on the pitch this season or not, next season will be one of the most interesting and exciting in the club's history.

TimmyH added 13:21 - Apr 13
boroughblue - 'Look what he's (MM) doing at Cardiff now'...he's not doing that much now, yes he had a honeymoon period, but he's stopped winning and got hammered by Wednesday the other week. Look at some of the players they have and their continued style of play from previous managers, it's a match made in heaven for big Mick... Lets not overexaggerate things.

ringwoodblue added 13:35 - Apr 13
I think we have to trust the new owners judgement that this guy is the right person for the job. He certainly had plenty of experience but Ipswich is a very different challenge. I welcome him and wish him every success cos as Lambo said many times, we need some help!

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