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GOOD NEWS: The Ipswich Town Manager Has Completed The Long Awaited Deal

After 23 long, often bruising, years came 24 minutes of perfection at Portman Road.

As goal after goal rattled past Exeter City goalkeeper Gary Woods in a thrilling first half, the mood shift was palpable from nerves to disbelief to ecstasy among the Ipswich Town faithful. At 5-0 before half-time, there was little denying that Kieran McKenna’s swaggering brand of football had brought what fans have been waiting for since the turn of the century: promotion, at last.

There had been little room for error in the three-horse race for two automatic promotion spots in League One, with Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday in the fight until the penultimate game of the season. After amassing 96 points, Wednesday were the unlucky side to fall short and enter the play-offs, not that the Ipswich players will be spending much time worrying about that now as they head off to Las Vegas with their golden ticket to the Championship in their back pockets.

Though Plymouth were crowned champions on the final day, along the way, Ipswich’s numbers have been remarkable. Just four defeats all season and a goal difference of plus-66, with 101 goals scored. This all came in former Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur coach McKenna’s first job in management after 14 years of working his way up the coaching ladder and being forced to retire as a player due to a hip injury at the age of 22.

Under American ownership group Gamechanger 20, who bought out businessman Marcus Evans in April 2021, Ipswich’s transformation from languishing former UEFA Cup winners to ambitious achievers is complete. This is how they did it.

US owners revolutionising Town from top to bottom

Looking out from the executive boxes at Portman Road at the pitch — if you can still call it that — makes it difficult to comprehend the fact Ipswich played and won a match of football there just 10 days earlier. The muddy rectangle below is covered in yellow diggers and workmen without a single blade of grass in sight, but this was all part of the plan.

Avoiding the play-offs has enabled the early launch of the latest phase of serious investment in the club’s infrastructure: the relaying and multi-million-pound modernisation of the pitch. Proper irrigation channels are being dug, undersoil heating laid, pop-up sprinklers installed and a hybrid pitch set to be grown over the summer months.

It will bring Portman Road up to date at a cost to owners Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer — three investors representing a five per cent share in the club — but it has long-term benefits, even if pre-season will be spent entirely on the road to enable the grass to grow for the new season.

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