Ashton: US Owners Top Drawer People
Tuesday, 1st Jun 2021 16:28
New Blues CEO Mark Ashton says he’s in very regular contact with the US wing of Town’s new ownership.
Ashton took over as CEO today working under chairman Mike O’Leary from Portman Road, while the US-based Three Lions - Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer - own five per cent of Gamechanger 20 Ltd, which in turn owns 87.5 per cent of Town.
Ninety per cent of Gamechanger is owned by investment group ORG managing funds for Arizona’s Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS).
“I speak to them regularly,” Ashton said when asked how often he speaks to the Stateside contingent.
“Sometimes daily, sometimes weekly, and they've been fantastic. The Three Lions are football people. Ed Schwarz [ORG’s member of the Gamechanger board] and Mark Steed [PSPRS’s chief investment officer] are really top, top drawer people who have committed serious finance to this football club to take it forward.
“But they are also keen and keep stressing to me how important it is that I build this in the right way.
“They want this club at the centre of its local community and they want the club to interact with the fanbase, interact with the stakeholders and be a club that its community and its fans can be proud of.
“And they are keen to impress that in me in every call, so in every area of the club on and off the pitch, Rome wasn't built in a day, but we intend to take every part of the club forward.”
He says he got to know the Three Lions after speaking at a meeting of USL club owners - the Three Lions are co-owners of Phoenix Rising - a few years ago.
“I met them a number of years ago in the US,” he recalled. “I went out to present at a USL national conference which was a fantastic conference to speak to, and I was blown away by their can-do attitude.
“I've been in football for 30-plus years now and sometimes we stuck in this industry to say, ‘no, we don't do that because football only does this’ or ‘football does it that way’ and we don't try new things.
“And the USL and the Three Lions in particular were so positive about trying new ways of ticket sales, developing stadium, building squads, and they were fantastic.
“We spent two or three days talking about English football and how football was developing in the US and the relationship built from then.
“It was almost a meeting of minds, and I think we all probably felt at some point in our careers there may come an opportunity for us to work together, and here we are.”
Regarding O’Leary and new chief operating officer Luke Werhun, who also joined the club today, Ashton says he knows them well.
“They know the level of professionalism and standards that I set, they know the tempo that I set, which is very early mornings and very late nights, which is what we do.
“And to have them alongside me is great for me, but I think it's also great for the football club.”
Photos: James Ager
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