'Supporters own the club... we're moving in the right direction' - O'Leary on takeover anniversary

Michael O'Leary after the game at Dartford

Ipswich Town chairman Mike O'Leary - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Ipswich Town chairman Mike O’Leary believes the club is heading in the right direction as it celebrates a year under new ownership. 

It’s now exactly 12 months since Marcus Evans sold the club to American investors, with the Gamechanger 20 group overseeing vast change at Portman Road during a whirlwind first year. 

O’Leary, a key player in negotiations with Evans and a calming influence at the club since joining as chairman, is proud of the work which has been undertaken but sees plenty more which needs to be done. 

“What a whirlwind year it has been,” O’Leary said. “So much has changed and we have welcomed many new faces to the club. 

“Most significantly, those faces include CEO Mark Ashton and manager Kieran McKenna. Both have already made their mark at the club, but there is much more to come I am sure. 

“Behind the scenes, we have witnessed a complete overhaul of our management structure. 

“We have recruited some very talented people to join the many familiar faces at the club, with the goal of driving us forward in every aspect of our organisation. Some longstanding servants have retired or moved on to pastures new and in every case, we wish them well. 

“Our existing stalwarts and our new arrivals are all going about the task of building sustainable success in their own areas of the club, including everything from financial management to sports science, and from the academy to corporate hospitality. 

Most Read

“I would like to thank and encourage them all. I thank them for the hard work they have already done, and I look forward to the journey that is to come. 

O’Leary also moved to highlight areas he believes to be important in Town’s growth under new stewardship, while insisting the Town fans are the true owners of the club, rather than he and his American colleagues. 

“It is the supporters that are the owners of the club,” he said. “Management teams and shareholders are temporary custodians and for each of us, our goal is to leave the club in a better position than when we joined. 

“In managing the club, we have many judgements and decisions to make on a daily basis. Our goal is to get more of those judgements right than we get wrong. If we can do that consistently over the long term, we will surely progress. 

Mike Ashton and Michael O'Leary after the draw at Cambridge United.

Mike Ashton and Michael O'Leary after the draw at Cambridge United. - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

“Football is an emotional industry. Our management team are required to make decisions knowing that, if emotion plays too large a part, potential errors may creep in. We have to stay calm, considered and logical regardless of the highs and lows that can accompany great successes or times of adversity. 

“We must remember to treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves. That includes all of us in every walk of life. Courtesy is an easy thing to give and what a difference it can make. 
  
“Are we succeeding in these aspirations? I think we are pointing, and moving, in the right direction but there is still so much work to do.” 

The Town chairman also discussed the future, which of course includes the on-pitch aim of winning promotion back to the Championship. 

He said: “In the coming year, what might we expect? Preparations behind the scenes for a new state-of-the-art playing surface at Portman Road, complete with new drainage and undersoil heating. 

Mark Detmer and Berke Bakay celebrate James Norwoods first half goal.

Mark Detmer, Mike O'Leary and Berke Bakay celebrate James Norwood's first half goal against Sunderland - Credit: Steve Waller - stephenwaller.com

“A new public address system. Digital screens. Upgrades to some areas of the stadium. Utilisation of the land near the rear of the Sir Alf Ramsey Stand. 

“Investment in the training ground and academy infrastructure. Improved communications between the club and you, the supporters. 

“All of these are important stepping stones, and all of these require investment and hard work. 

“The most important feature is that we are all aligned with one ambition, though, and that is to make the club a success. Having witnessed the incredible support for the club, both home and away, I have no doubt that the foundations are in place. We are on the right path. Here’s to our second year.”