Simon Clegg, Bryan Klug and Simon Milton face questions at Supporters’ Club AGM
IPSWICH Town chief executive Simon Clegg, academy director Bryan Klug and player liaison officer Simon Milton faced questions from a crowd of more than 100 fans at the Official Supporters’ Club AGM tonight, held in the Legends’ Suite at Portman Road.
Newly-appointed caretaker manager Chris Hutchings and first team captain Carlos Edwards had been due to attend, but the former was at Blackburn last night to scout Saturday’s opponents Sheffield Wednesday, while Clegg decided that Edwards should be kept in a positive frame of mind for the weekend’s important match.
“It would have been easy for me to cry off tonight and try to put this back,” said Clegg, who announced Paul Jewell’s departure from the club by mutual consent just hours before.
“But I know some of you have travelled long distances. The very least I could do was to turn up and try answer your questions as honestly as I can.”
With the tone of the evening understandably tense and critical given the events of the previous 24 hours – Town having sunk to the bottom of the table courtesy of a last-gasp home defeat – Clegg was quizzed about a series of worries.
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Outside of the obvious issue surrounding the change of manager, topics covered included the relationship between club and fans, falling attendances, the academy production line and Clegg’s own position.
“I accept when you look at it from a purely football perspective there has been no progress,” said Clegg. “But I do think we are making progress in other areas. There are big issues to contend with such as Financial Fair Play and the Elite Player Performance Plan, but I know that things are ultimately judged on results.
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“I am still as motivated to lead this club forward and I know Marcus (Evans) feels the same. We know we need to provide strong strategic leadership.”
Quizzed about his own credentials for selecting a new manager, he said: “There are very few chief executives in the Championship with more experience than me now. I’ve never hidden the fact that it’s been a steep learning curve, but both Marcus (Evans) and myself feel in a stronger position to appoint the right man.”
Asked about the club’s relationship with fans, he said: “There is a general feeling across football that fans are feeling more and more detached. We are making some effort to try and close that gap.
“Every supporters’ event I am invited to I try to attend and I’m here today in what are very difficult circumstances. I don’t think anyone can honestly say we don’t make an effort to interact with the fanbase.
“I’ve had a lot of spurious applications for the managers’ job today on the basis of FIFA football game experience. I could ignore them, but I make sure everyone gets a response. A lot of you in here have e-mailed me and I always try and respond. You may not like my answers, but I always try and respond.”
On the subject of finances, he added: “Football has moved on a lot a massive amount in the last decade. Clubs have to be run as a business. We have to continue to apply sound business principles or we could end up in a position like Portsmouth. I will not go down that route of taking the club into administration again.
“We are probably in the middle of the Championship in terms of budget. I think the owner has shown with the money he has spent, both in the summer and more recently outside of the transfer window, that he is still passionately committed.
“Every player has a value attached to them by the manager and we can’t be held to ransom. You have to realise sometimes that agents and other clubs can use the situation to their benefit.”
– For more news from the AGM, including thoughts from Milton and Klug, revisit Dave Gooderham’s live web blog at: www.eadt.co.uk.