'This club is too special to put a ceiling on' - Ashton on lofty Town targets

Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton celebrates.

Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton celebrates victory at Lincoln earlier in the season - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

Mark Ashton sees no ceiling to what Ipswich Town can achieve over the next few years. 

The Blues are building momentum on the pitch under new manager Kieran McKenna and have captured the imagination of supporters off it, too, following the club’s American takeover in April. 

Portman Road attendances average more than 20,000 and nearly 7,000 backed McKenna’s side at MK Dons on Saturday, creating a positive feeling around a club desperate to recapture the good times. 

There’s a significant amount of work to do, in both a football and business sense as Ipswich look to lift themselves out of the third tier, but the potential is clear to those leading the charge. 

“There’s no ceiling,” CEO Ashton said, when asked how high the club can go. “This is too special a football club to put a ceiling on. 

“You look at clubs who have been sustainable in the Premier League for many years at certain times, whether it’s Bournemouth, Leicester or West Brom. Some of them have had 10-year spells in the Premier League and even one of them went on to win the Premier League. 

“You dare not put a ceiling on this football club. Ipswich have done it before. 

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“We had a lovely dinner a few days ago with 10 or 12 former Ipswich players from different eras, part of which was an education for us to learn about the football club and also for them to meet us, meet Kieran and hear about what we’re trying to do. 

“That reminds you what this club has achieved during different eras and there’s no reason it can’t do it again.” 

Ashton and McKenna are leading Ipswich on the front line in Suffolk, but the backing comes from thousands of miles away thanks to the club’s American ownership. 

“They want us to build this,” Ashton continued, speaking on a special edition of our Kings of Anglia podcast, alongside McKenna. 

Incoming manager Kieran McKenna speaking with Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton duri

Incoming manager Kieran McKenna speaking with Ipswich Towns Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton during the Sunderland game. - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“Everyone wants success quickly, we all do. But they are very logical and sensible people who have a long-term investment here, so it’s about building it, getting the infrastructure right. 

“They’re really supportive. They want to know if we need more help on transfers for the first-team or for the development squads. 

“And on the ground we have Mike O’Leary (chairman) who offers real guidance for me and for the club. 

“I can’t thank them enough. They’ve been great.” 

McKenna enjoyed spending time with the club’s former players at the recent dinner, attended by the likes of Mick Mills, Russell Osman, Darren Bent, Darren Ambrose and James Scowcroft.  

“It was really enjoyable,” the Northern Irishman said. 

“I crossed paths with Darren Bent as a player at Tottenham, so it was good to see people like him and Darren Ambrose, while my dad has told me about Russell Osman and all of those players in those great teams. 

“It was one of those moments which feels humbling, talking to them about our plans and projects for the club. They’re all people who have done amazing things with the club and have been here at its highest points. 

“They are all good people who all want the best for Ipswich. You can see just how much the club becomes a part of people and how much people love the area. Once they’re here, nobody ever seems to leave. I’ve told my wife we’re probably here for life now! 

“We need everybody in it together so we want people who have done so much for this club in the past to be part of it in a genuine way.”