Ashton: Saturday is Like Christmas Morning, I Can't Wait
Tuesday, 3rd Aug 2021 19:31
Blues CEO Mark Ashton says Saturday, when Town open their season at home to Morecambe in front of a crowd of around 20,000, will be like Christmas morning as the club’s new era gets under way in earnest.
Although the takeover took place in early April with a number of games in the 2020/21 season still to be played, there was little impact the new ownership or manager Paul Cook could make on the team or the club as a whole.
Since then, it’s been a summer of great change at Portman Road with the team which lines up against the Shrimps likely to be almost entirely different to the one which ended last season.
Ticket sales have been brisk over the last few days with 17,500 seats now sold for Saturday - 13,000 of those season tickets - and the club is hoping to break the 20,000 mark as fans return to the stands en masse for a competitive match for the first time since February 2020.
“It’s quite an important day on Saturday because it’s the first time that supporters in their masses have been allowed to come back into football stadiums together, so to have them here at Portman Road is quite an occasion,” Ashton told BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin (1hr 26mins 45secs).
Ashton can’t wait for the new season to get up and running: “I’m an early riser, it’s a 5.30am start for me every day and Saturday will probably be slightly earlier than that.
“It’s excitement, it’s anxiety. We’ve got to make sure we get 20,000-plus people in here safely with the Covid rules and regulations and we need to win a game of football. It’s like Christmas morning, I just can’t wait.”
Sadly, the US wing of the ownership, Three Lions Brett Johnson, Mark Detmer and Berke Bakay, as well as Mark Steed, the chief investment officer with the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System, which owns 90 per cent of Gamechanger, won’t be able to join him at Portman Road.
“Potentially they could have been but unfortunately they won’t be and the reason for that is when we were making the bookings and arranging travel and organising diaries, we were at a point where travel wasn’t available and we couldn’t get them in.
“So unfortunately they won’t be here for Saturday. What the fans are going to see is some messages over the next 24 or 48 hours coming out to them directly from our colleagues in the US wishing everyone well for the start of the season.
“Trust me, if they could be here, they would be here. They are so excited about the investment that they’ve made and how we build this club.
“But unfortunately with travel in Covid, they’re just not going to be able to be here for the first game.
“It won’t be long, they are itching to get here. We speak daily and they will be here as soon as they possibly can.”
Meanwhile, Ashton joined manager Paul Cook this afternoon in surprising fan Mason Milne by handing him his season ticket as part of the EFL’s Season Launch.
Mason is among those clinically vulnerable as he has Crohn's disease and autism.
Photo: Matchday Images
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