'We're going to push back!' - Ashton's message to Norwich City
- Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton says it's time the club started 'pushing back' on rivals Norwich City.
The Blues have recruited four members of staff from the Canaries over recent weeks - Dean Wright (academy manager), Stuart Cox (head of venue), Dean Sharp (facilities manager at Playford Road) and Lynette Hannant (CEO's PA).
And now Ashton, one year into his role at Portman Road, says it's time Ipswich started addressing the fact that Norwich have Player Development Centres in the Suffolk locations of Whitton, Kesgrave and Bury St Edmunds.
“I’m going to be honest, I think for too long this football club has allowed Norwich to come into our area and onto our patch," he said, speaking at a recent supporters' event.
"We’ve got them recruiting our academy players (Liam Gibbs last summer) and delivering community activities in our schools.
“In the nicest sense of the word, we’re going to push back! Because we’re now going to start to dominate our own patch. We’re going to dominate wider Suffolk. And if needs be, we’ll go into Norfolk! Because this club is big enough.
“We’ve got to be proud and we’ve got to look after our own."
During his recent visit to Suffolk, Mark Steed, a key member of the US ownership group, joked about new employees having come from 'that club up to the north'.
“Mark (Steed) and I talk very regularly and, while we do discuss the results of the team and how Kieran (McKenna) is doing, equally, if not more, he talks to me about the work we’re doing in our community," explained Ashton.
“That community core of the football club isn’t just words, it’s a value that, whilst we’re here at the football club, will not go away. We will put the Foundation at the forefront of everything that we do.
“The reason that we do that is because I genuinely believe that football is a universal language. It can impact lives.
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“The brand of Ipswich Town is an unbelievable medium that can motivate and engage people. Whether you’re dealing with health, education, dementia - it brings people together.
“We’re now working with around 7,000 participants per week and we’re only just scratching the surface.
“I’m so grateful to Mark, the board and our investors because this is the first club that I’ve worked at where they truly put the community first. I think that’s something we can all be really, really proud of.”