New signings will need to be players the fans can identify with, says Paul Jewell
IPSWICH Town Football Club has a golden opportunity to reconnect with its supporters.
So says manager Paul Jewell, who believes the financial reality check facing the game could help bring back the ‘community’ feel that many feel has diminished at Portman Road – and across football in general – over recent years.
New financial fair play rules mean clubs will have an increasing duty to balance the books following an era where debt has been common place and numerous clubs, including Ipswich, have gone into administration.
Blues chief executive Simon Clegg recently stressed that, despite the riches that promotion to the Premier League offers, Town will not take financial gambles going forwards.
But while many managers would be frustrated by a tightening of the purse strings, Jewell believes the culture shift could well be a blessing in disguise for the game.
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“Football is getting harder and harder and it is almost a reality check,” said the Blues boss. “The finances at our level are only going to get tighter and tighter and I think football has a real opportunity.
“If I’m being honest, football has lost its identity a little bit with the guy in the street. I am not saying players should go to a pub for a game of dominoes because then your photo is on Facebook or whatever, but we need some identity with the people coming through the turnstiles.
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“I think supporters can take to Cressie (Aaron Cresswell) because he has come from Tranmere and they can take to Carlos (Edwards) because he has taken a pay cut and gives everything he’s got.
“I think it is about time football clubs do more to identify with fans.
“Sometimes it is not our fault. I want to be able to talk to supporters and I want them to be able to talk to players and have an affinity with them. But they see players in fancy cars who zoom off without signing autographs.
“The Premier League stars are almost untouchable, but we have a really good community club here. We should embrace that. If we get the right new players, with a common cause with our supporters, I think we can go forward.
“It doesn’t mean you are going to win the league, but the club would be moving forward in the right direction and have a feel-good factor.”