New Ipswich Town CEO Mark Ashton has opened up on his Bristol City exit, claiming he felt it was time for a new challenge despite having formed “a really good relationship” with new Robins boss Nigel Pearson.
Following the arrival of Ipswich’s new owners, it was confirmed that Ashton would leave Ashton Gate at the end of the 2020/21 campaign to take up his new role at the League One side.
His tenure at Portman Road officially began at the start of June and while much of his comments since have been focussed on his new club, he also discussed his departure from the Robins and his relationship with Pearson.
On the topic of leaving the Championship outfit, Ashton told EADT: “I’m a builder, and if you look at where I’ve been in the past and what I’ve done, that’s what I’ve done, I’ve built.
“The easier choice would have been to stay where I was, working for an amazing owner at Bristol City and with some amazing people, having just completed the training ground, and having a really good relationship with the new manager.
“But you get to the point where I’m 50 this year – my word that frightens me – and I just felt it was time for a new challenge.
“I think the people who have acquired this football club and invested in it are really special, and they want to do the right thing, and I just think sometimes in life, things line up – and this just felt right from the moment they contacted me.
“I love a challenge and I think we’ve got one, but I think this is a really special football club.
Ashton served as City’s CEO between January 2016 and May 2021 but was also involved with the club in a consultancy capacity prior to that.
While there were positives to take from that tenure, including a number of big-money player sales, there had been growing unrest towards him among the Ashton Gate faithful in recent years – with the search for Lee Johnson’s replacement and a lack of communication with fans proving key issues.
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These comments from Ashton will likely be of interest to City fans, many of whom will have been happy to see the back of their former CEO.
While he deserves credit for some of the progress made at the club over the past five years, there have also been a fair few frustrating decisions.
You only have to look at the departure of 11 senior players at the end of their contracts this summer – including former record signing Famara Diedhiou and promising midfielder Liam Walsh – as evidence of poor management of the playing squad.
It seems, however, that his departure was nothing to do with a breakdown in his relationship with Pearson – who has now taken over part of Ashton’s responsibilities when it comes to signings and contracts.