'I'd like to think that in the next week or so, we can get some across the line' - Ashton on signings
- Credit: Ross Halls
New Ipswich Town chief executive Mark Ashton has a lot on his plate as he starts his bid to turn Ipswich Town around - but he knows the first order of business is getting players through the door.
It's likely to be a summer like no other at Portman Road - new owners, a new chief executive, new chairman and a huge turnover of playing staff, with stalwarts Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse among those departing, and many others told they can go.
And yesterday, on his first official day in the job, Ashton was under no illusions as to his first priority.
He said: "Look, Paul (Cook's) been really clear on the type of player he wants, he's been clear on some of the targets he wants and the club have started to move on some of those targets.
"I will take that over as of today, and I'd like to think that in the next week or so, we can get some of those across the line.
"We've got to recruit players that can get us out of this division, and we've got to recruit talent around that.
"We'll look to recruit in all areas, we'll look to develop the Academy - and that will come in time - and we'll look to recruit players into the under 23's, which is the underbelly that we can develop in time for Paul and the first team.
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"But we've got to recruit players that can help us win games come August."
Asked how the recruiting dynamic will work, Ashton explained that it's a team effort - and that word, team, was something which cropped up a lot.
"We work together. I'm not talent ID - I don't go and watch games and scout, that's not my piece," he explained.
"My piece is the negotiation, the relationship with the other clubs and the agents and the financial piece - that's the piece I do.
"Paul and his staff and the recruitment guys that are here lead on presenting the players that they want.
"Recruitment is an area that we will invest in over time, and we'll bring the right people in for that, whether it be technical recruitment, scouting, analysis, that's an area we'll heavily invest in.
"But right now it's all hands to the pump - we've got to get players in for August."
While Town managers in the recent past have had to make do and mend when it comes to signing players, working on a shoestring budget, Ashton stressed that Cook will be backed by the new owners.
He said: "The club will be well-funded. But we also have to work under the salary protocols in League One, which means that you can only spend a percentage of your turnover on player salaries.
"And everyone's turnover is substantially down because of the pandemic. We'll be funded right to the top of that, but we'll be sensible - we'll be brave and bold, but not reckless. I think that's key.
"But yeah, Paul will be supported. We want to make this club competitive as quickly as we can, and we want to get results as quickly as we can."
So how quickly could we see new faces? And are there bids on the table?
"I will pick all that up today, but there are certainly discussions going on with clubs and players, for sure," Ashton said.
"As soon as I get my feet under the desk, I'll be taking that forward."
Ashton also revealed that the club are looking at bringing in players from he and Cook's former clubs - Portsmouth, Wigan and Bristol City - although the net will be cast far and wide in the search.
"There's always an element of better the devil you know, so yes there are players at those clubs that we're looking at, but the net goes far wider than that," he said.
"We will endeavour to bring in the best talent that we can to win games."
And, despite only officially starting yesterday, Ashton said he was talking signings and targets with Cook and new chairman Mike O'Leary over dinner the night before.
"Oh yeah. We had dinner last night, and that's what we talked about for three or four hours with Mike," he explained.
"I've had three or four conversations with him (Cook) on the phone as well, where he's wanted to get me up to speed.
"He's clear on the type of individual he wants, and I love the fact that he's really clear that anyone who wants to come to play for this football club has got to be committed.
"This isn't a stop off, for someone to go and play for someone else, this isn't where journeymen come to finish their careers, this is a football club that deserves better, and he is adamant that he wants players and staff totally, totally committed.
"He's already setting a tempo, and we'll be working on those later today."