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Johnson: I Was Beyond Impressed With Ashton's Pragmatic, Disciplined Approach
Thursday, 29th Apr 2021 13:42

New Blues co-owner Brett Johnson says incoming CEO Mark Ashton first impressed him at a USL board meeting a number of years ago and earmarked him at the time as someone he’d like to run any English club he might be involved in at a later date. Johnson has also been very impressed with manager Paul Cook and says this summer’s changes will extend beyond the playing and coaching staff to the Town's Portman Road stadium.

Ashton, 49, will join Town on June 1st with his time as CEO at Bristol City set to end the previous day.

Johnson, speaking at length to the Price of Football podcast (from 37mins 17secs), says it was important that he and his fellow Three Lions, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, ensured someone who knows English football would be running the club on a day-to-day basis.

“I think as an American along with my American partners have tasted some success in North America, I think the greatest sin we could have made was to think that somehow our success could translate to England,” said the 51-year-old, who also speaks about having been sounded out about buying Newcastle United prior to the takeover at Town

“And so to that end, I always felt that England’s where smart money goes to die if you don’t get someone, what I would describe as English, to really steer the ship.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Ashton several years ago at a USL board meeting and was beyond impressed with the pragmatic, disciplined approach that he takes both on and off the pitch.

“That impressed me and I thought to myself that if I ever have the opportunity to invest or own any asset in that fine country, I wanted someone like Ashton in the tent, if you will, on the team.

“It’s a thrill to have him and that accolade that he won in 2019 [Championship CEO of he Year] is appropriate, his eye for signing talent and for monetising is very positive.

“We look at these clubs and you do want to make sure that you can find ways to find commercial success, in addition obviously to performance success. We hope to strike the balance between the two. So I’m thrilled to have him at the helm.

“Also Paul Cook, I’ve been very impressed with what he’s done. I think he’s the right manager for the club and we’re going to be busy in this transfer window and hopefully can really bring in the talent that’s not going to stop at anything until this club is again, at the minimum, back up in the Championship.”

Cook has made no secret of his intention to make wholesale changes to the playing personnel, while off the field Ashton’s Bristol City head of operations/club secretary Luke Werhun is set to follow him to Portman Road.

As TWTD has previously reported, former Blues left-back Scott Barron will to return to the club as head of recruitment and Robins head of performance (sports science and medicine) Andy Rolls is set to take a similar position at Town having left Ashton Gate earlier this week.

But Portman Road itself will also show some changes when fans make their way through the turnstiles at the start of the 2021/22. Indeed, the underside of the Sir Bobby Robson Stand was undergoing an inspection earlier in the week, presumably with a view to its flaking paintwork being refreshed.

“I think we’re going to change not just the playing staff but we’re going to invest in Portman Road,” Johnson continued. “My understanding from a distance is that it’s a fairly tired venue.

“I think there’s a fair bit of what I’d call low-hanging fruit of changes to really have the supporters that come [take notice of].

“First and foremost they recognise it on the pitch, there’s nothing more important for us than immediately having the 18 that are dressing doing whatever it takes to win, to get those three points, week in, week out, game in, game out.

“But that said, I certainly want all the supporters that come from such a great distances to support this club and who have stuck with this club during such dark days, I want them to sit there and notice that the food is better, the seat is cleaner, the scoreboard is new.

“All those elements of it so that they go away and ideally turn to others and say ‘you’ve got to join me next time at Portman Road, the club’s going in the right direction’.”

Johnson sees the club’s position in its locality as a very significant aspect of its role: “It’s not an ego play for me, I really want these clubs to succeed and they’ve got to succeed by winning and they also have to succeed by being a big and important part of the community.

“That’s where I feel very fortunate, starting with Phoenix and now extending over the pond, to be working with clubs that really do have the ability to positively impact the community.

“I always feel an incredible responsibility. I don’t say this just for a soundbite, this is asset which is part of the community. The success lives and dies by the support of the community.

“I view my role is to be a steward to make sure the community feels that sense of ownership and pride. I feel fortunate just to play whatever small role it is tipping the scale hopefully to that end.”


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NthQldITFC added 13:48 - Apr 29
Really great words; positive determined intention. Thanks Three Lions.

itsonlyme added 13:57 - Apr 29
Great news keeps coming out from our new owners

Suffolkboy added 14:10 - Apr 29
Hope the fine words are matched by elegant objective actions on and off the pitch .

KernewekBlue added 14:19 - Apr 29
Talking the talk.

Now, let's see them walking the walk this summer!

I'm feeling optimistically positive about the promised changes, in all aspects of our club, and cannot wait for the rebuilding to start in earnest.


BlueBlood90 added 14:23 - Apr 29
Feel like I'm wishing my life away at the moment. I'd love to see a list of the squad we assemble over the summer. The Bristol City fans have been very vocal in bashing Mark Ashton but I've been very impressed with everything I've read about him so far. Hopefully he's just been their scapegoat and does a great job for us.

spanishblue added 14:40 - Apr 29
If MA is that bad how did he get ceo of 2019 it’s only 4 months to see the Phoenix rising incidentally my school badge, suggested by my friends brother in the fifties, I can’t wait to go back to Portman rd probably in October

TractorRoyNo1 added 14:42 - Apr 29
Give him a break! At this stage all he can do is "talk the talk". Judge him, Cook etc in 12 / 3r / 36 months.

mib added 15:06 - Apr 29
He is easily pleased, personally I am far from impressed with Cook, seems to have a lot to say but his results are pitiful. he had an easy run in to the end of the season and seems to cocked it right up, or should that be Cooked it right up. Unimpressed

hoppy added 15:25 - Apr 29
...the scoreboard is new...

Interesting little one slotted in there...

ArnieM added 17:03 - Apr 29
I’m just praying that new score board registers some Town goals next season 👍🥂

bluelodgeblue added 17:07 - Apr 29
Hoppy if it’s one tenth the size of Dallas Cowboys scoreboard and screen it might be close awesome?🇬🇧🇺🇸

Karlosfandangal added 17:38 - Apr 29

These players have got us relegated and 2 mid table finishes so Cook was never going to make us a team to reach play offs

Cook has come in told the players their performance is not good enough and they don’t like it. They are so use to Lambert saying well done lads you put some effort in, now don’t spend your £5k a week on sweets.

Judge Cook this time next year it take time to retrain players out of Lamberts way just look a what KVY was saying

Bert added 17:43 - Apr 29
I like what I hear. He seems to get the community aspect and has honest intentions. Unlike Evan’s, it is apparent that the new owners really want to connect with the club and its supporters. Let’s get this rotten season over and move on from the debacle of the last few months.

BeattiesBackPocket added 17:50 - Apr 29
What a refreshing change an actual football man coming in to run the club if only evans has thought of that. Everyone bashing cook atm I’ll judge him in December as he has the worst squad of players we’ve ever had and that’s been proven over TWO seasons not just since he’s been here and not only does he have a cross team he has a lot of them as well such a big squad with very little quality. Let’s judge the guy in December. I for one will be renewing now evans has gone and for the first time in many years finally seeing a structure at the club.

BryanPlug added 17:57 - Apr 29
Hold on everyone, ‘mib’ isn’t impressed with Cook. Forget what Brett Johnson says. Mib knows best.

Edmundo added 18:14 - Apr 29
Possibly the best news in this piece is the signing of a new sports science head honcho. Maybe we will keep a few players free from injury next season?

Europablue added 18:17 - Apr 29
BlueBlood90 I think Ashton is not well-liked because he's an astute businessman, but that is exactly what we need. His job is all about maximizing profit and allowing us to invest more in the squad to be successful on the pitch.

johnwarksshorts added 18:30 - Apr 29
They are saying all the right things, they are recruiting all the right people and they are communicating with the fans, such a refreshing change from the previous owner. Lets hope it all brings success on the pitch next season.

bluesince76 added 19:05 - Apr 29
Love what I'm hearing from 3 lions it's so refreshing got a feeling the good times will be back at postman road.

BeattiesBackPocket added 20:02 - Apr 29
I’ve said this before anyone doubting Ashtons pedigree here goes:
As much as this year has stagnated for Bristol city during his tenure Since 2016 they have spent approx 46 million just on players and recouped 79 million so making 33 million in the process a lot of those were decent fees paid for players who moved on for huge profits like Webster. Personally I’m happy if we do that it’s how teams like them Brentford Norwich survive and compete in the playoffs etc. Bristol city fans see that as being a selling club but when did we last spend 46 million in 4 seasons on players or recoup 79 million on players in 4 season?? That’s a 33 million profit and their fans moan about that I would happily have that to what we’ve had past 4 years or even 14 years

bobble added 06:11 - Apr 30
we dont need a score board ,as we never score......some Valium and some wet paint to watch dry would surely be a better investment for the club !

brendenward35 added 07:04 - Apr 30
The key to all this is fans in the stands, we need more than 10k to buy players as the club has to abide by the fair play rules. Unless we get a get buy in from the fans PC will have limited budget for new players. Fans already moaning about the compensation for season tickets so doesn't look good .

trncbluearmy added 07:22 - Apr 30
At the moment we have heard an awful lot of words,
the only action has been a contraversal season ticket launch, there was without doubt an indication that ifollow would be free.
The fans who have been caught are the one's who supported the club by continuing season ticket payment.

It needs sorting.

BettyBlue added 08:00 - Apr 30
Because Bristol City have had unlimited success for the last ten years.........

BettyBlue added 08:07 - Apr 30
Evans basically was doing the right thing.

Rubbish managers and the some of the worst players players have cost the club unlimited damage.

Keane, Jewell, McCarthy, Hurst, Lambert all have failure and relegation written on their CV's

How many players have gone onto do anything? Or managers?

None of them ever worked again in football. Shows how they took the money and ran.

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