COMMENT: Ipswich Town is getting its identity back

Ipswich Town

Ipswich Town - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town Football Club finally has its proud identity back.

That was certainly the feeling when speaking to several staff members of past and present at Playford Road yesterday.

They had gathered to talk about bold new plans to upgrade the academy to Category One status under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

The aim is that 50% of the first team squad will be academy graduates by 2017. The aim is that supporters will be made to feel part of the club.

In recent years you have to say that has not been the case.

Under the management of Roy Keane and Paul Jewell, the spine of the side consisted of big name signings and loanees keen to progress their careers elsewhere.

And under chief executive Simon Clegg, supporters were treated purely as customers (remember being asked to ‘check the small print’ on your tickets after the Middlesbrough game was called off?)

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Marcus Evans has learnt a lot during his five-and-half years as a football club owner. And it appears to have now dawned on him that it’s time to go back to the future.

Bryan Klug – the man who brought through so many top young players in the 90s and 00s – returned last summer to become academy director.

Joining him on the academy coaching staff are a host of former Blues players who came through the system themselves – the likes of Kieron Dyer, James Scowcroft, Jason Dozzell and Micky Stockwell.

There were two key lines which really summed up the shift in approach yesterday.

Dyer confirmed the rumours that several former players were told they were not welcome at the training ground under ‘former regimes’ (Keane).

It was Klug – a man whose time at the club as a player and coach now spans five decades – who summed it up best though when he said: “It just feels more like the club I have loved all these years once again.”

- See today’s EADT and Ipswich Star for a five-page report on Ipswich Town’s bold academy plans. Includes interviews with managing directors Jonathan Symonds and Ian Milne, academy director Bryan Klug, academy sponsorship director Simon Milton, former Blue turned academy coach Kieron Dyer and current Town player/academy graduate Tommy Smnith.