'I would love to have a female coach,' says Ipswich Town co-owner Johnson

Ipswich Town co-owner Brett Johnson (inset) is ready to back the club's women's side. Photo: Archant

Ipswich Town co-owner Brett Johnson (inset) is ready to back the club's women's side and says he would love to one day hire a female manager for a men's team. Photo: Archant - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town co-owner Brett Johnson says he 'would love to have a female coach' at one of his clubs.

Johnson, along with partners Mark Detmer and Berke Bakay, is part of the US-based Gamechanger 20 Ltd group who took over the Blues in April.

The trio have overseen the success story Phoenix Rising, in Arizona, while Johnson plans to launch another USL side, in Rhode Island, by 2023. He also has a stake in Danish second-tier side FC Helsingor and has recently shown interest in buying Australian A-League club Central Coast Mariners.  

In a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, when asked about the potential for an Ipswich and Rhode Island link-up, Johnson said: "I have to be sensitive to my partners in Ipswich, but I’m keen on seeing if there’s a young coach that oversees the academy that would make sense to move to Rhode Island, have him or her bring five to seven of the best and brightest, and put them into that market because he or she’s been working with them for years now, then surround them with a phenomenal additional cohort of great USL talent and see what that looks like."

Picking up on Johnson's reference to a coach as being 'he or she', the interviewer then asked if hiring a female coach was something he was keen to do.

"Completely," he replied. "I mean I’m blessed with Amanda Powers, who’s my president for FC Tucson (USL League One) and I think was the second club president in North America.

"I would love to have a female coach, and that being said: I’m completely committed to the women’s game. We’ve been talking a lot about the Ipswich women’s team.

"I will launch a women’s team in Rhode Island, we will do one in Phoenix and I’m pleased that USL has launched the W league.

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"But also, I’m very impressed with how Lisa Baird is building and navigating very pragmatically the NWSL (National Women's Soccer League).

"We will be equally committed to the women’s game, but that’s not to say I’ll launch a women’s team and that will be where female coaches work. I’d love to sit and discuss if they want the keys to the men’s team.

"I’ve got the utmost respect for coaches that ply their trade every single day because I recognize that it’s brutal. You are literally only as good as your last match."

Earlier this year, Chelsea women's boss Emma Hayes, who has been receiving rave reviews for her punditry during Euro 2020, was linked to the vacant AFC Wimbledon job. She responded by insisting that the League One club couldn't afford her and that 'it's an insult that we talk about women's football being a step down'.

Back in 2012, former Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez said he thought there would be a top-flight female manager within the next decade.

Then England boss Hope Powell, who was linked to the vacant Grimsby job in 2009, said: "The challenge would be, if a female was appointed at the highest level, how the media take that.

"If that female isn't successful then would it be 'see we told you - she couldn't do it'? Or if she was successful would she get too much media attention that would be too much to bear?"

Ipswich Town's women's side, managed by Joe Sheehan, were recently promoted to the third-tier of the English game. Having gone on an historic run to the fifth round of the FA Cup in 2020, facing off against the mighty Manchester City, the club have made no secret of their desire to climb all the way to the Super League as quick as possible.

Last week, 18-year-old winger Sophie Peskett became the first female player ever to sign a professional deal with the club.