Mark Ashton Saga

Discussion in 'Bristol City' started by wizered, Apr 13, 2021.

  1. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    Mark Ashton is a wanted man but has questions to answer at Bristol City too
    Our City reporter on the Robins CEO who could be on the move in the next weeks.

    Maybe it's the nature of his job, or more likely the timing, but few Bristol City men have proved as devisive to the Robins fan base as the current CEO.

    Appointed as the Chief Operating Officer originallyin January 2016, Mark Ashton oversees the day-to-day football operations and, according to our sources, is wanted by Ipswich Town to do similar in Suffolk. The former goalkeeper was described as "marmite" on Monday evening on Geoff Twentyman's Sound of the City radio programme.

    And he recognises himself that he is regularly "battered" in the opinions of some fans, though one former board member explains that to be only natural for someone at the top of a football club.

    The interest from elsewhere is a compliment but some supporters' glee is not in line with that.

    The Tractor Boys will see that over the past five years, since Ashton arrived in BS3 in an official capacity, the Robins have stabilised after immediate flirtation with relegation following the 2015 double-winning promotion under Steve Cotterill. And after that: Championship league finishes of 18th, 17th, 11th, 8th and back down to 12th last year, mixed in with beating Manchester United and making the Carabao Cup semi-finals, a highpoint on the pitch.

    At the same time, the club has completed work to Ashton Gate Stadium, expanded its community work via the Robins Foundation and unveiled plans to create an enlarged £100m sports quarter development.

    The first team moved into the High Performance Centre last month, finally bringing over their academy to Failand from SGS, where it is hoped that more talent will follow the footsteps of those who were sold on to Premier League sides for big transfer fees: Joe Bryan, Bobby Reid and Lloyd Kelly.

    The further big money sales of Aden Flint, Adam Webster, Josh Brownhill, Hordur Magnusson and Jonathan Kodjia, has helped to power the above and supplement the continuing investment from the club-owning Lansdown family. So much so that last year the club turned a profit for the very first time in their annual accounts, achieving the ambition of Steve Lansdown to be in control of the club and turn it profitable. Another tick in the box.

    To make that strategy sustainable, the best players at the club must continually be sold and in the post-pandemic world that may not be feasible. Nevertheless, Ashton should take some of the credit for the monies that have arrived, for negotiating those deals and overseeing much of the completion of the infrastructure that now sees Bristol City in the position to strike at the final leg of their journey, promotion to the top tier.

    But at the same time the excitement off the grass has simply not been matched on it. Last season and this have seen a tumble down the English second tier.

    Consistent on-field improvement has proved hard to come by of late, and forward progression has been more Milan Djuric than Tammy Abraham. A genuine assault for promotion has never arrived, despite insistence from the club owner that the top six should have been achieved in the previous two years.

    Many fans point to a mixed record regarding recruitment - and they hold Ashton chiefly responsible. And it is true there have been hits and misses along the way.

    In particular, selling Adam Webster and replacing him with free transfer Ashley Williams, later Filip Benkovic - now playing in Belgium - and also the search for the x-factor to give City that push to the Premier League. Come on down, Lois Diony.

    Nahki Wells was supposed to be the final piece of the jigsaw a year ago, the surefire goalscorer to fire Bristol City to promotion, but the Bermudian has yet to hit top form.

    Is the man named Championship CEO of the year for 2019 Ashton responsible for all that? No, with Steve Lansdown accepting culpability in February and continuing to make the final decisions: "Oh yes, I take full responsibility [for the dip in form]. Although I’m not on the board I am the owner, I do fund it. I do authorise it. Success can be down to me and failure can be down to me," said Lansdown in February.

    The former West Brom player has also pointed out time and again that each head coach and now manager has the final say on transfers.

    Their view? One former Bristol City manager has explained to Bristol Live that Ashton is a 'good guy', while Lee Johnson described him as "a fantastic CEO who I had a very strong relationship with, was a pleasure to work with" in a recent interview with The Coach's Voice on his time at Ashton Gate.

    Networking and contacts in football are so important and the CEO's links to Brendan Rodgers, Darragh MacAnthony, to former Premier League chief Richard Scudamore (who has taken in several Bristol City games this season from the directors' boxes with Ashton), to top agents Colin Gordon and Nick Robinson, and many others have proved important over the years in helping behind the scenes.

    One senior source told Bristol Live an important anecdote about the impact Ashton had in the boardroom during his earlier West Brom days that help show his value at corporate level and indicate why he is so highly regarded, when he was assistant to Baggies managing director John Wile many years ago.

    Wile and Ashton were described as exceptionally kind to the Bristol City directors on one visit, despite a late goal for the home side. The Baggies had got consent to build a new east stand, and Wile offered to share the architect plans. A meeting at the Hawthorns was hastily arranged, where exceptional help from Ashton was given, to the point of leading to important planning consent eventually being gained for the two new stands at the East End and South (now the Lansdown Stand) in BS3.

    The stands that were to be eventually constructed 20 years later at Ashton Gate are very similar and influenced by the structure at The Hawthorns, with Ashton playing a supporting role akin to a Kasey Palmer through-ball or Jack Hunt cross.

    Ashton, who took a wage cut last September but is also criticised for being one of the highest paid CEO's in the Championship, doesn't forget key boardroom members and is described as going out of his way to speak to important personnel, which may help explain that promotion to the EFL board. Yet he has made enemies along the way too.

    The Clifton-dwelling chief of the football club, whose concern for two elderly parents figure highly in his priorities, and who is regularly spotted alongside his son at games currently works phenomenal hours for the club, touched upon by Lansdown recently. "For people to criticise him, I know it’s easy to do that because everybody is looking for a scapegoat at the moment, everybody is looking to blame somebody, and Mark’s an easy target.

    "But I can tell you now that Mark works so hard for this football club that he deserves a lot of praise for what he's done," said the majority share holder to BBC Radio Bristol.

    Now almost everything runs through the CEO, from recruitment to planning, to club media to communication blackouts, and more. Despite being at the centre of everything, accountability for the happenings on the pitch is muddied however.

    Inconsistent communication, appearing front and centre to now playing a bit-part role, jars too.

    And there are certainly questions for the club this season over the continuing injury problems that the Robins have experienced, with hamstring injury after injury occuring, and relapses along the way. It cannot be swept under the carpet.

    In particular on the medical side, where Ashton has recruited that team, a root-and-branch inquiry is needed to make sure the same damage does not happen again. And also why trips to Solihull, where Ashton was operated on himself last year, were necessary for scans when the Bristol Bears have used facilities closer to home.

    If the CEO is seen as the answer in Suffolk, then there are some questions way out west for him too.
    https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/mark-ashton-wanted-man-questions-5291005
     
    #1
  2. bcfcredandwhite

    bcfcredandwhite Well-Known Member

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    Ashton is very good at negotiating deals.
    The problem is that he has been given power over much more than that.
    A move to Ipswich would be good for everyone IMHO - and would give Nigel Pearson the authority he needs to shape his own side.
     
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  3. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    His time with us is up, he is out of date, out of touch and out of ideas, he has had his time with us, no hard feelings but good bye.
     
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  4. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    Steve Lansdown needs to act with speed, appoint NP and give him plenty of time to deal with the OOC's, build up the squad via his contacts, replace coaches with his own staff, sort out the re-hab dept.

    Lets get the ball rolling, not wait weeks and end up with a repeat of the DH arrangement.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
  5. Tom_BCFC

    Tom_BCFC Billy Bibbit
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    Stepping down at the end of the season, that'll make a lot of people happy
     
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  6. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    #6
  7. Supcon72

    Supcon72 Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting that this area is solely down to Ashton according to this report.

    And there are certainly questions for the club this season over the continuing injury problems that the Robins have experienced, with hamstring injury after injury occuring, and relapses along the way. It cannot be swept under the carpet.

    In particular on the medical side, where Ashton has recruited that team, a root-and-branch inquiry is needed to make sure the same damage does not happen again.
     
    #7
  8. RedorDead

    RedorDead Well-Known Member

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    Tells Paul Cook he is not what Bristol City are looking for an appoints Holden.
    Paul Cook takes over at Ipswich where Ashton is likely to be going and at the time the rumours started. Wonder if it was all part of a plan.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
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  9. Redprintt

    Redprintt Well-Known Member

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    Twas ever the same.
    Some people get by in life by words and move on before they're found out.
    Feel sorry already for Ipswich fans who'll be taken in by this smooth sounding lizard.
    And in a few years he'll move to be full time on the EFL Board.
    Where all bluffers end up.

    Not unlike our MPs and the Lords.
    And, of course, Brussels.
     
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  10. bcfcredandwhite

    bcfcredandwhite Well-Known Member

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    Not desperately unhappy to see the back of him, but I will reserve full judgement until his replacement is announced.
    The man was bl00dy good a brokering a deal.
    We could end up with someone with ALL Ashton's weaknesses, but with no idea how to secure a deal either :emoticon-0107-sweat
     
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  11. AshtonRed

    AshtonRed Well-Known Member

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    Some real key decisions to be made by SL over the coming weeks, get them right and the sky’s the limit.
     
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  12. AshtonRed

    AshtonRed Well-Known Member

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    Personally prefer NP to Cook, it now leaves scope for NP to bring in someone of his choice, exciting times ahead potentially.
     
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  13. invermeremike

    invermeremike Well-Known Member

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    Surely now with Ashton gone is the perfect time to make the next decision and that is a contract for Nigel.
     
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  14. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    #14
  15. Supcon72

    Supcon72 Well-Known Member

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    I think this could be a good option - not sure what his wage demands would be though, it may be a stumbling block?
     
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    Last edited: Apr 13, 2021
  16. invermeremike

    invermeremike Well-Known Member

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    I never knew that Scudamore is a Bristol City supporter and with his deep involvement in football he should be on the list of candidates. Perhaps with him and Nigel on board the wheels might actually turn us in the right direction finally. Although I get the impression that many wanted Ashton gone was he the spanner in the works? On the salary front for both Pearson and Scudamore I think it's time for good money to be spent on top brass rather than under achieving players and with a powerful one two punch in the front office we should be able to find better players at reasonable wages to move us forward.

    Why hasn't Mark Ashton been asked to leave immediately due to possible conflicts of interest?
     
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  17. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    Massive conflict of interest, if he stays until the seasons end all of the planning of players contracts both old and new will be under his control, terrible decision.
     
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  18. wizered

    wizered Ol' Mucker
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    #18
  19. invermeremike

    invermeremike Well-Known Member

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    Surely during his talks with Ipswich I suppose he was working on their takeover and to me that would be a no no. To me this is a pot of unknown consequences and he should be escorted from his office today and put it under the file of mutual decision.
     
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  20. Jiffie

    Jiffie Well-Known Member

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    I put exactly the same on another thread, tis a real irony.

    Having said that although Ipswich are firmly in the play off picture, Cook's record so far isn't much better than Pearson's.
     
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