‘It’s a difficult decision that Marcus needs time to get right’ – Milne on McCarthy’s future
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town have announced a 10% cut in season ticket prices for 2018/19. STUART WATSON spoke to managing director Ian Milne about that and the continuing uncertainty surrounding manager Mick McCarthy’s future.
Q: What’s the primary reason for the price cut?
A: The decision Marcus made last year, and he’s on the record as saying this, was wrong. I can’t say too much more about that, but it’s fair to say we support that view internally.
We came up with a recommendation for the 10% cut, he asked a few questions, did a few calculations and he said ‘yep – it’s the right thing to do’.
It’s not a silly amount that we’ve taken off. It’s not a two per cent or a five per cent. It is 10 per cent, which is quite a lot of money.
If you look around a lot of other clubs have just frozen their prices so far. It makes us one of the cheapest Championship clubs in the division.
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I’m sure people will pick through that statement, but I certainly know of two or three clubs who have frozen their prices.
Q: How important are season ticket holders? It’s guaranteed income and the core support for the team.
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A: This is it. There will be a core of supporters who will continue to buy their season tickets whatever the decision on the manager, but there are equally quite a number that will say ‘that’s great the club has reduced by 10% but I would still like to see what changes are going to be put in place’.
Hence why we’ve made the early bird deadline what it is in order to give Marcus that space to make the right decision for the club and still be able to communicate that to everybody so that they can then make up their minds on what they want to do.
Q: When will that conversation between Marcus and Mick take place?
A: I honestly don’t know. Clearly it’s got to be over the next few weeks.
Q: You said on BBC Radio Suffolk the other week that you hoped the two things – season tickets and Mick’s future – would come together.
A: I said the season tickets news would come out in two weeks, then they tried to say in that interview that the management issue is what fans want to hear about. I agreed, but I didn’t say a management decision would be made in two weeks.
Q: Why hasn’t a decision been made already?
A: Just a few weeks ago there was still a chance of getting in the play-offs. It’s only in the last two or three matches that things have got worse. But up to that point, hold on, as the owner, you are not going to throw the baby out with the bath water.
If Marcus suddenly said ‘get rid of him’ and then we bomb out then everybody would be up in arms.
We’ve still got matches to play. Although it would be nice to go out with all these decisions now life is not like that, it’s much more complicated.
There are a lot of factors that Marcus has got to take into account. He is looking at all the options and he understands all the issues – the entertainment, the rift, the decline in attendances.
We’re in a fairly unique situation where we’ve known we were heading towards the end of Mick’s contract and then all these things seem to have happened at once to seemingly collapse the timetable.
Marcus will make sure he makes what he feels is the right decision as to who is the best person for next season. It’s a difficult decision that he needs time to get right. None of us will want him to rush that decision.
Q: You get out and about and meet a lot of fans. What have they said to you?
A: Before the Bristol City match I met a lot them. There were fans that were very pro Mick and said ‘don’t get rid of him, he’s very, very good’, but of course there were others who said ‘no, we’ve got to move on’.
Even the fans who are against Mick will concede he has done a very good job, but they are saying ‘we want a change’.
As I said to both sides, Mick is a very good football manager – I don’t think anybody disagrees with that.
But I also know there are debates about his style and I know there are issues in terms of things he’s said and what happened at the Norwich match and what have you.
Q: Is Marcus tuned in to the general mood? What sort of percentage of games is he able to attend?
A: The marvels of technology means he sees all the matches and he does get to a lot of them in person – at least half, two thirds.
I had a review with him the other day and he’s been very consistent. He remains very enthusiastic about the club. That’s not rubbish. We had a long discussion and he really wants to know what’s going on – particularly with the academy.
We’ve been hearing a lot about the lack of entertainment and of course we recognise we are in the entertainment business. The dwindling numbers regarding attendances is very concerning to us. We are also aware of the rift between the manager and the fans.
Don’t think Marcus is on a desert island and not aware of all this. He doesn’t just ring up occasionally and say ‘how did we get on Saturday?’ It’s not like that. He’s not here every day but he’s got his finger on the pulse.
He’s also aware that Mick has got this club very competitive in a tough league. We have got stability. We’re mid-table. People might say mid-table mediocrity, but it is mid-table. Thank God we haven’t been relegated because that is the worst thing that could happen to us. I do think that would be very difficult for Ipswich Town.
So he has to weigh all that up.
Q: Do you get a sense which way Marcus is leaning?
A: I honestly don’t know. What I can say is that there has been no decision made. Of course, Marcus could offer Mick a contract and Mick could decline it. There are a number of factors at play here. They’ll have that discussion over the next two or three weeks.
It’s important to say the outcome of that conversation will not be made public on the 29th of April. It won’t be announced one day before the early bird deadline.