CEO Mark Ashton admitted that today’s fixture release makes Ipswich Town’s Premier League status truly feel genuine.

The Blues will open the campaign at home to Liverpool before travelling to defending champions Manchester City.

With games against the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur also pencilled in, Town can begin to plan for the next 11 months, with the challenge of surviving in the top flight now clearer than ever.

“It’s got real very quickly,” Ashton told Town TV. “A big opener, I don’t think they get much bigger than that.

“It gives us a real focus now. There’s a timeline to the first game. Wow – it just got real.”

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Manager Kieran McKenna has never been shy to discuss his ambition of managing at the top level, but even he couldn’t have imagined that his side would face such a tough run at the beginning of the season.

“It’s a fantastic start,” he said. “These are the big challenges that we want. Of course, we’re right in at the deep end, but any game would be tough.

“Liverpool at home, at Portman Road, it’s a fantastic game to open with. Everyone’s going to be so excited.”

Playing at home against Arne Slot’s side will be a different experience for supporters, with significant work ongoing at Portman Road ahead of the new campaign.

Arne Slot's first league game as Liverpool manager will be away at IpswichArne Slot's first league game as Liverpool manager will be away at Ipswich (Image: PA)

Ashton admitted that the club could’ve asked to play their first fixture away from Suffolk, but they were ultimately confident that they can complete the renovations in time.

“When we looked at all the work we had to do at the end of last season, the easiest thing we could do would be to ask for dispensation, to play the first game away, but we said no,” he revealed.

“The first game is the first game of the season. If we get the opportunity, we want to be home at Portman Road.

“To open against one of the biggest clubs in the world, I think it’s fantastic for the club, the town, the county and the fans, so the stadium has got to be ready.”

READ MORE: Ipswich Town's Premier League fixtures in full

Asked whether any of the fixtures stand out, McKenna said: “There’s so many, to be honest. You can look at every game and think it’s going to be a challenge, but there’s some great opportunities in there. It’s going to be a wonderful season ahead.”

Ashton was posed the same question, setting him up to reiterate how big the step-up to the Premier League will be.

“I think that you look at them all and it takes the word ‘relentless’ to another level,” he argued. “These are all big Premier League clubs, but we’ve earned our right to compete in this league and I’m looking forward to all of them.

The Blues will travel to Manchester City for their second game of the seasonThe Blues will travel to Manchester City for their second game of the season (Image: PA)

“They’re all big games. Every one will give us different challenges, but I can’t wait to get underway.”

For now, attention turns to pre-season. Ipswich have only announced one game – a home friendly against Fortuna Dusseldorf – but are set to return to Austria for a training camp.

McKenna doesn’t believe that their preparations will change much now that the fixtures have been announced, but they will have to focus on the key threats of Liverpool and Manchester City.

“Most of the pre-season is planned in place, but of course, you work pre-season for the whole season and for the 38 games,” he said.

“There’s going to be certain bits of pre-season that you want to tailor towards your first couple of games, and it’s pretty clear to see the challenge that we have in the first couple of games.

“We’re going to emphasise some things a little bit more in pre-season to try and be as ready for those fixtures as well as we can.

“We’ll tailor a few bits according to the early opposition, but other than that, there’s so many challenges across the season and we know that we’ll have to bring so many different attributes to every different game.

“That’s what we’ll be working on from the start of pre-season.”