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Ashton: We Will Only Sign Players and Staff Who are Absolutely Committed
Friday, 30th Jul 2021 12:22

CEO Mark Ashton says the Blues have only signed players who are totally committed to Town and has stressed the importance of the club’s role in the community.

Speaking at last night’s Fans’ Forum alongside manager Paul Cook and chairman Mike O’Leary, Ashton was asked about the 10 players who have been brought in so far this summer, with more still to be signed. He says they have to be dedicated to the club, part of which we understand has been to stipulate in their contracts that they have to live within 20 miles of the club.

“They all wanted to run towards Ipswich, and this is the key piece,” Ashton said. “We will only sign players and bring staff to this football club, who are absolutely committed.

“Paul, Mike and I, and our investors, we’re not going to sign people who think Ipswich is a stop-off point to better things.

“Players and staff have to be committed, move to the area, be part of the community and this football club is only going in one direction and we will bust a gut to make that happen.

“The potential here is almost indescribable at times and I’ve said before that I don’t want to put a lid on things, I don’t want to say ‘we’ll get to the Championship and that’s great’. Why should we do that?

“There are clubs in the Premier League, there are clubs that Mike and I and Paul have been at before that are classed as big clubs. This is a bigger club.

“There is no limit to what we can do here. The players that join this football club have to understand that.

“When they join, Paul does all all the technical and the tactical and the football piece, which is great. I do the contractual piece and the financial piece and we work really well together in relation to that.

“But the other piece that I do, that is really important, and we’re doing it again [on Friday] with the lads as a collective, we talk about the culture and what it means to the community if you’re going to join Ipswich Town Football Club as a player.

“Because if you join Ipswich Town Football Club as a player, you’re signing up to something more than a player, you’re signing to a commitment for how you behave and conduct yourself and how you engage in this county.

“And I’ve had that conversation on a one-to-one basis with every player that we’ve signed, and we’ll do it again [on Friday] morning as a collective.

“We have the opportunity to build something really special here. So if players don’t want to join up to that, I don’t care how good they are, go somewhere else, because if you come to this football club you join a culture and a way of operating and a set of behaviours that you have to adhere to, and that standard we are setting.

“And everyone we’ve signed thus far has run towards those kind of behaviours, and I think that’s been absolutely fantastic.”

Ashton says it’s vital that the club builds stronger links with the community: “Absolutely. But it’s a way of working. You’ve got to totally commit to what we’re doing. Your way of life has got to commit to Andy Rolls and his performance [requirements].

“This isn’t any more where you come in in the morning and you train, you go home and you turn up on a matchday.

“I’ve been in this industry a really long time and normally what happens in a close season is that the CEO and the recruitment team are in, the manager comes in every other day and we have discussions around players. You don’t really see the assistants and the coaching staff over the summer.

“Paul Cook and his staff have been in every single day, and I mean from 7.30 to 7.30, every single day.

“That’s a standard and a commitment and the players are asked, in a different way, to do the same thing.

“And if we all keep doing that and working in that way, this football club can only go forward.”

He says he and the other club management will get out in the community: “The community piece is a really important question and the answer is absolutely.

“We’ve bought the asset which is the football club. We don’t own the football club, the community owns the football club, we are custodians of the football club, let’s be really clear on that.

“At all the football clubs I’ve worked at, the word community and how we work in our community has been really, really important to me, and it won’t change here.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We had a community trust I’ve been told that was disbanded some years ago [in 2014] and we’ve got a new community trust that’s in its infancy, but we want to work in all aspects of our community.

“That isn’t just about players and staff turning up at soccer courses for a photo with the children, this is real work, whether that’s in education, well-being, health, it doesn’t matter.

“We need to engage in our community because we need our community and our community needs us, and only together can we take this football club forward.

“It’s something that I, Mike and Paul and our investors in the US are so, so, so passionate about.

“Don’t get me wrong, when Mike and I talk to our colleagues in the US, we talk about the team a lot but, trust me, they equally talk about the investment into the community and how we work in our community.”

Photo: Matchday Images

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BlueySwede added 12:40 - Jul 30
Ashton speaks really well, can´t get anything but excited for the future of ITFC.

Pencilpete added 12:41 - Jul 30
I'm guessing this is why Flynn Downes is being shown the door - hes said he wants to go so thats it - he's done here

shakytown added 12:52 - Jul 30
That commitment has been lacking in players and behind the scenes for a years. The last time there was any at all was with Dino but he did not get the support needed. A lot of players last season were just collecting a pay check and there was no leadership or integrity behind the scenes if you read what everyone is saying.

algarvefan added 13:16 - Jul 30
I don't know about you but over the past years I have been fed up watching a team that has ability but that doesn't want it as much as the opposition. I am delighted to hear this from Mark Ashton, who really impressed me at last nights fan forum. He fully understands the fans passion and want tat replicated by the whole team. I now understand the clear out and am fully behind the new management team and the owners.

62WasBest added 14:24 - Jul 30
Don't see that any employer should insist where an employee lives. So long as they arrive at work on time and fulfil the community aspects required of them that should be enough. I wonder if all employees including Mr. Ashton are required to that observe that rule? Commitment is one thing but this attitude of controlling a person's life out of working hours effectively is just the sort of behaviour that leaves me unimpressed by American business methods and why I am generally not keen on their involvement with the club.

chorltonskylineblue added 14:30 - Jul 30
Is it too late to resign Shane Supple? This is exactly the kind of thing Shane talked about lacking in the players and club when he left professional footie

dirtydingusmagee added 14:30 - Jul 30
hopefully commitment will show through on the pitch too now, its been absent in most for far too long . COYB

mojo added 14:33 - Jul 30
Well said Mark Ashton. You deserved a round of applause for this answer last night in my opinion.

Suffolkboy added 14:40 - Jul 30
Aspiration of the highest standards will undoubtedly be followed through and reflected in much greater pride in performance and consistency ,in every ITFC activity .
Importantly ownership is now closer to the everyday business and exacting and inculcating those beliefs will become part of the culture .
So much to encourage support and lift expectation ; nothing to be critical of !

jonwillpott added 16:31 - Jul 30
62WasBest....being required to live in the community is NOT an American practice!! I was required to do that over 40 years ago whilst working as a Banker!

PhilTWTD added 17:18 - Jul 30

And was also the policy when Geprge Burley and Roy Keane were managers, and probably others too.

62WasBest added 17:52 - Jul 30
jonwillpott - It clearly talks of a 20 mile stipulation. That doesn't even cover the majority of Suffolk. Are they also not interested in having fans from outside that radius? Are they not too part of the community or are they only community when there is money to be made from them ?

I also worked for a very large firm that tried that stunt 40 years ago and they were told where to get off. Those higher up the food chain deemed themselves too "responsible" to have to adhere to those same rules. It is the practice of beholdenness to a business outside of working hours that I talk of as particularly American. So long as one is not breaking the law or not a moral authority figure then such requirements are juvenile and removing personal responsibility.

Incidentally, I haven't noticed banks were wedded that much to "the community" having been more than eager to ditch their presence in a great many communities in recent times.

FramlinghamBlue added 21:22 - Jul 30
5 more in to get the squad in the right place

LondonBlue73 added 21:45 - Jul 30
62WasBest - Thanks for contributing, what is your actual point and how much do you take on board from previous posts, comments and interviews?
Mark Ashton has stated on numerous occasions that he has moved into the area and is leading from the front, he has stated that he lives equally between training ground at Playford Road and Portman Road.

He has also stated that he expects all staff to live locally if moving in to the area as he wants to build on the community team element. Surely this is to be applauded and and as an employer at the start of a contract you can make your wishes clear and insert clauses accordingly. If the new staff do not like that as he clearly states no matter how good they are, don't join, he doesn't want them.
I accept existing staff cannot and should not be forced or pressured to move, you inherit what you inherit.
Fundamnetaly he is building a culture and stating clear requirements a prerequisite for successful team building. He clearly accepts some may not like that, fine, make your choice and don't join.
Personally I believe in strong culture and guides on expectation from the outset and expressing these shows integrity, transparency and develops culture - what in any of that is bad or wrong?

62WasBest added 00:27 - Jul 31
LondonBlue73 I made my point quite clearly. Unless the employer is providing the accommodation why is there a need to dictate where a person should live? What is the"community team element" you speak of? The community is, or should be the whole of Suffolk, not a just 20 mile radius of Ipswich, as the club are the senior club in the county. I'm not deriding creating a team spirit or interaction throughout the county with the community but adults should be treated accordingly and not dictated to by silly clauses that have nothing to do with team building. I keep reading on here of a modern infrastructure etc., yet the idea of footballers coming from and living in the community is plain pre-war. Even then it was because they were frequently from the local area, not because they were instructed to live there. They are professionals not lackeys serving some imposed artificial "we are all this together" sort of philosophy. We'll see how things develop but I am not taken in by the talk when a good part of Bristol City decamped to Suffolk for a new project. Was that a display of the commitment we are hearing about? And a strong culture comes from the personalities involved not from out-dated clauses in contracts. I can see you come from a different era of working life that I was only too pleased to be able to leave behind when it increasingly became similar to treating people as schoolchildren rather than one of building mutual respect. To bring it back to football, this is why I believe so many modern footballers seem to be unable to think for themselves on the pitch as they seem to have been raised in a culture of expecting to be told what to do in every situation.

LondonBlue73 added 01:32 - Jul 31
It is well known that many players that have travelled and commuted to their work in many clubs have not formed the same bonds within the team structure and wider community projects as those that have been local. I fully accept that there are always exceptions to be considered such as family ties, schooling etc. These must be considered.
I doubt we are from a massively different working era but can also have perspectives that differ. I have lived with a professional footballer that played for Wycombe and Oxford. He had team mates that were not local and were more separated from the team in terms of social functions, team mates that after night games and 01;00 in the morning returns, then had two hours of driving home and often missed or were late for the next mornings training. These practical issues are detrimental to team.
I may have missed it but I have not seen 20 miles mentioned but have seen move to the area. I have also read it is a discussion prior to contracts being signed therefore allowing those involved to make informed decisions. One would assume, if they didn't agree or like it they wouldn't join.
Unless you have seen a contract I am unsure how you can speak with such authority about clauses. As for your comments about fans - I live 124miles from Portman Road it is nearly 2.5 hours each way. I have had a season ticket for 32 years, but it would not be healthy or wise to do that journey every day. It can be tiring if we have two home games in a week, especially an evening one.
Also not sure what your point is about Bristol City, people move jobs the commitment they bring to the job they do is what matters for the time they do it. If a premier league top six approach Mark Ashton and his team, it will be because he's done a good job and he will no doubt leave that's is realistic. We've offered him a job that has appealed and a project that he clearly buys into. Would you prefer the last regime?
Sheepshanks left for the FA, Sir Bobby left for England, to better themselves and as a result of what they did for us. Legends like Warl left for Liverpool, Murhen for Man U etc, etc
I'd love our team to produce staff that others want as it will mean progress.
Anyone that signs in any job role will see the terms and if they are happy with them why does it bother you so much?

peewee added 10:11 - Jul 31
Didn't mcgoldrick wanted to be back up north look how he was injured most the time till internationals came along or transfer market was open. Soon as he was close to home and wanted to be at a club he's been fit alot more. So does make sense

Monkey_Blue added 16:17 - Jul 31
Ashton is a good talker, I’ll give him that although not sure his achievements previously show he is anything more. Although he might prove to be, I’m just not yet to see evidence. I agree you want players who are keen to be at the club but as we are signing so many the odds are a significant percentage may not be as committed as they claimed nor work out as desired. I’m yet to hear a manager say they don’t value character and commitment when signing a player. The fawning over anyone saying anything much more than cliched football talk is a little embarrassing. The proof of the pudding etc….

Monkey_Blue added 16:18 - Jul 31
When I was travelling the country week in week out including a long and expensive trip to home games I didn’t see the club caring that I didn’t live within 20miles.

62WasBest added 13:45 - Aug 1
LondonBlue73 –

1) I’m sure players that are single and young would prefer to live at least on the fringes of a city and I am not advocating they live long distances away as you suggest. You have set up a straw man there.

2) I suggest you re-read the article, particularly the second paragraph about contracts and 20 mile limits. I’m not an authority on proposed contracts (nor are you I assume) but am responding to what was reported. The pre-contract talk rather than a contract clause you suggest is not referred to, that I can see, but that would make more sense. However, a 20 mile radius excludes most of the county that the club represents which seems to be scoring an “own goal” in terms of trying to link it it to the “community” as purported.

3) There is no evidence that where a player lives has any bearing on his level of commitment, just as to his intelligence.

4) My point about Bristol City is that if you leave a job before having gained any major achievement then does that not suggest a lack of commitment? Your examples of others who moved on only refers to people that had achieved something first in terms of winning several trophies or on to a quantifiably more responsible role.

5) It bothers me so much because very often what happens, especially in highly visible professions, eventually is taken as a norm for others, and to insist where someone lives is the prerogative of the employer above punctuality and the ability to do their job satisfactorily isn’t reasonable.

6) If they cannot trust a player to live close enough to fulfil his role, without making it a contractual obligation, then it is questionable that the club have done enough preliminary research. More importantly, it shows immediately that club do not trust the employee to make even the most basic of decisions for himself i.e. his ability to attend work, which in turn suggests to me that they would be looking to sign players displaying not even the minimum level of commonsense and sense of responsibility to be of much use on or off the pitch to any team.

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