Ipswich Town closing in on appointment of new chief executive

Bristol City manager Dean Holden with CEO Mark Ashton (right) ahead of the Sky Bet Championship matc

Bristol City chief executive Mark Ashton has been strongly linked with Ipswich Town - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town are closing in on the appointment of Bristol City’s Mark Ashton as the club’s new chief executive, we understand. 

The club’s new American owners, along with new chairman Mike O’Leary, have made hiring a ‘top quality’ chief executive their first priority since buying the club from Marcus Evans in a deal understood to be worth in the region of £40million. 

The incoming CEO will be in day-to-day charge of the football club, with O’Leary at Portman Road two days a week. 

Ashton has always been at the top of that list and the Blues are understood to be close to getting their man, with a departure from Ashton Gate thought to be in the works. 

Ashton and O’Leary have worked together previously, both at Oxford United and previously at West Bromwich Albion, with the duo set to link up again in Suffolk. They have also both served as directors of investment firm Alycidon Ltd, formerly Ensco 1070, from 2014 to 2015. 

The incoming Town CEO has also previously spent the best part of five years on the board at Watford. 

Ashton has been at Bristol City since 2016, firstly as chief operating officer before becoming chief executive a year later. He also currently serves on the EFL board as one of three directors from Championship clubs.  

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He was named Championship CEO of the year in 2019, having earned great praise for his dealings in the transfer market which have netted City millions of pounds through selling players on to the Premier League. 

Adam Webster is a good example of that, with Ashton brokering the deal which took him from Portman Road to Ashton gate for an initial £3.5million in 2018, before selling him to Brighton for more than £20million. 

Reports in Bristol have suggested opinion has become split among supporters in recent years, though, said to be due to an increasing role in the club's recruitment strategy.

Speaking last week, when asked about his search for a chief executive, O’Leary said: “Recruitment is always a bit of a varying subject in terms of completion dates and timing. I’d love to tell you it will be two days from now but I’m not that good at predictions. It could be a week, it could be a couple of months.   

“What we will do is make sure we get the right candidates and, when we’ve found them, we’ll do our utmost to get them in position as soon as we can. 

“We’ve got a process underway and we’ve got people we’re looking at. There is timing for when we can recruit which really hinges on circumstances for the people we are examining.  

“I know Mark (Ashton) very well, have done for a long time and he’s a good guy. But I’m not going to speculate on people further at this point. It’s too early.” 

The Blues are in action against AFC Wimbledon this evening. 

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