The first five jobs for Ipswich Town's new owners

Brett Johnson held a press conference last night after Gamechanger 20 Ltd's takeover of Ipswich Town

Brett Johnson and his colleagues start their first full week in charge of Ipswich Town today. These should be their first jobs - Credit: PA

Today marks the start of the first full week in charge for Ipswich Town's new owners.

Mark Heath looks at the jobs they need to prioritise...

The men involved in Ipswich Town Football Club's takeover

The four Americans involved in Ipswich Town Football Club's takeover; Berke Bakay (top left), Mark Detmer (top middle), Brett Johnson (far right) and Edward Schwartz (bottom middle). - Credit: NA

1) Season tickets

The club were due to make an announcement at the end of last week about refund options for those who've been paying all season for not a lot, plus the pricing of the season tickets for 2021/22.

That's been delayed by the takeover though, and I hope Brett Johnson and his Gamechanger colleagues take this slam dunk of an opportunity to start as they mean to go on.

Season ticket holders this year simply have not got what they've paid for. If they've been lucky, they may have attended one game in person, but most of the time they've been forced to follow their underwhelming heroes on an iFollow steam that could have made the most sturdy of sailors feel a little seasick.

The fact that so many have continued to pay their hard-earned cash to support the club - at a time where many will have been struggling financially themselves - needs to be rewarded, firstly through some solid refund options.

And then, let's see something special for next season's tickets. A one-off, extra-low price for example - MK Dons are offering season tickets for £230. Surely Town, with all this new dollar behind them, could match that?

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Or even just honour all the season tickets from this season and carry them over, then offer a low price for those who either want to return, or new fans.

Whatever the decision, this is a serious opportunity for the new owners to supercharge the good feeling their arrival has brought.

Fans back inside Portman Road.
Picture: Steve Waller
www.stephenwaller.com

Town's new owners have to meet and engage with the club's fans - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

2) Meet and engage with the fans

There can be no doubt that one of the big failings of Marcus Evans' failed reign was his anonymity.

We barely saw him for the first decade, and even when he did finally emerge from the shadows, he totally failed to engage with fans - the beating heart of his club.

Already, the signs are that Gamechanger will not repeat that mistake. Indeed, on the first day of the takeover, Mr Johnson probably spent as much time  on camera answering questions as Evans did for his entire 13-year rule.

But they have to do more, when Covid allows, of course. Get over to Portman Road, meet fans in person, attend fans' forums, engage with fan podcasts - of which there are plenty - and generally show that you care.

This remains a special club, with a special fanbase. They are just waiting to be given something to latch on to, grab hold of and run with.

Show them that they have their club back, and that it's in the hands of people who want it to succeed as much as they do.

Town are the very definition of a sleeping giant. Their long-suffering but loyal fans are a huge part of shaking it from years of slumber.

Luke Chambers pictured during the Blues 2-1 win over Burton Albion at Portman Road Picture: Ross Hal

Captain Luke Chambers is one of 13 first teamers out of contract this summer - Credit: Archant

3) Sort out the playing squad

The summer's big job. 13 first teamers are out of contract, with many others at various levels also requiring decisions on their futures.

In Paul Cook, the new brooms have the right man to manage Town's star-spangled revolution.

But it's clear that they don't have the players to do it in the only place it matters - on the pitch.

The squad, to use a term from American sport, needs to be blown up. Decide which players have something to offer going forward, and send the others packing.

The big decisions will, of course, be the likes of old warhorses Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse. Good men, and wonderful servants to the club. But is now the time to let them go and really kickstart a new era?

Chambers, certainly, still has something to offer as a player. We know he wants to stick around and help lead Town back up the football ladder. Can you change the culture of the club with him still around though?

What happens to the skipper is one of the biggest decisions of the summer.

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Brett Johnson, left, and Mike O'Leary have already promised 'substantial investment' - Credit: Archant

4) Show me the money

Now, when I say me, I of course mean us. But that's not the quote from Jerry Maguire, so it doesn't work as a header.

We already know that Gamechanger are wedged up. Mike O'Leary has already promised that the investment will be 'substantial'.

Well, let's start seeing those dead presidents put to use.

On top of deciding which players will stay and which will head on down the road in the summer, Cook needs to be given the funds to seriously strengthen the squad - especially if they somehow fluke their way to promotion.

Far more likely is the Blues are still in League One next season. In which case, the power of the almighty dollar will go far.

Let's see the club make a statement of intent by making some quality signings with pedigree, nor scraping around in the bargain bin as they have been forced to do for so long.

Strikers are an obvious need, as is creativity and pace. Town's defence has been pretty solid this campaign, so perhaps no need for a major overhaul there, other than a replacement for veteran Stephen Ward, and maybe a new number one.

Defence wins championships, after all.

Fans at Portman Road ranked low for both banning orders and arrests Picture: MARK HEATH

Portman Road is a famous old ground - but it needs a serious facelift - Credit: Archant

5) Tidy up Portman Road

Johnson made reference to Portman Road as a famous old ground when he first met the media last week. He's right.

But it's also a bit of an eyesore, tired and rundown - much like the club.

If you're going to change the losing culture at Town, give the players and fans a stadium and environment to be proud of again.

I'm not talking about a Simon Clegg-esque painting of the turnstiles while Rome burns either, but a serious package of improvements to the ground and the environs.

Make Portman Road a place that looks like it breeds champions and demands excellence once more.

And I'll take £1 bottles of beer too, if you fancy bringing that over from Phoenix Rising!


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