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Club News

MARK'S PROGRAMME NOTES | SUNDERLAND

18 December 2021

The thoughts of Town's CEO ahead of this afternoon's game

Good afternoon and welcome to today’s League One game with Sunderland. As ever, I’m delighted to welcome the players, staff, directors and supporters who have made the journey down to Portman Road from the North-East for today’s match.

These programme notes are the first that I have penned following the tough decision to relieve Paul Cook of his duties. Therefore, I’d like to start by thanking Paul, Gary Roberts, Franny Jeffers, Ian Craney and John Keeley for their efforts while with the Club. It is never an easy decision to make when a manager loses his job, and it goes without saying that all of them leave with the best wishes of myself and everyone else at Ipswich Town Football Club. I’d also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank John McGreal, Kieron Dyer, Rene Gilmartin and Carl Pentney for stepping up to take care of first-team duties during this interim period.

Football is a tough industry and with the schedule being the way it is, we have played three away games since Paul left the Club. Unfortunately, we have come away from two of those three games bitterly disappointed following 2-0 defeats at both Charlton and, most recently, Barrow. Myself, the interim coaching team and the players themselves know that those performances were simply not good enough. In the middle of those two games was a battling display and good point up at Wigan, who are in great form towards the top end of the division. That has to be a building block now as we seek to climb the League One table.

Onto today’s game and what is set to be a special atmosphere at Portman Road, just a week before Christmas. When the Club launched the #PackOutPR campaign, I said that it was a call to arms for the supporters. As I’ve mentioned before, that call has been met in outstanding fashion. Seeing over 28,500 fans inside our home this afternoon will be amazing and I cannot thank you enough for your support, both for the campaign and for the Club. We all appreciate that this season has been largely disappointing but, with a packed out Portman Road behind the boys, we’ll be giving it everything to ensure that this afternoon is a special occasion and that we get the result to match.

Unfortunately, due to the worsening Covid-19 situations and tighter travel restrictions being put in place by the UK Government, all of the American board and directors have not been able to travel to England for today’s game as planned. Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer will be in attendance, though, and I know they are very much looking forward to being part of a unique Portman Road atmosphere this afternoon.

Finally, with one week to go until the big day, I’d just like to wish you all a merry Christmas. I hope you can all enjoy it safely with your loved ones.

Thanks for your ongoing support and enjoy the game,

Mark Ashton


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