For a younger fan it may come as a surprise to be told that Ipswich Town were once one of English football’s top teams. The club consistently were in the top division since 1961 with the exception of small stints in the second division and boast a Division One championship (1962), a FA Cup (1978) and a UEFA Cup (1981) making them one of the Championship ‘bigboys’ alongside the likes of Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Wednesday. Following their relegation from the Premier League in 2002, Ipswich have spent the past 16 seasons stuck in the Championship with little success where making the League Cup semi-final in 2011 and the play-offs twice in 2005 and 2015 were the only highs. But after a long 16 years Ipswich Town look nailed on to finally leave the second division of English football, but against the fans and clubs hopes it’s a downwards transition for the Tractor Boys. This will be the first time Ipswich have dropped into the third tier of English football since 1957.
With a mere 12 games to go Ipswich sit rock bottom of the Championship, 12 points adrift from safety. Even dreamers would find it difficult to argue a case that Ipswich have a chance of staying up and the bookmakers agree, offering odds of 100/1 for the Tractor Boys to survive the drop. If the club were to pull it off it would certainly be one of the most remarkable survival stories.
What went wrong at Ipswich Town?
A huge problem for Ipswich has been transfers and the inability to replace key players who have left the club. Players such as Daryl Murphy, Tom Lawrence, Tyrone Mings, David McGoldrick, Martyn Waghorn and Aaron Cresswell have all been crucial players for the Tractor Boys in recent years who have all departed the club. According to The East Anglian Daily Times the club is in £95m debt owed to club owner Marcus Evans creating difficulties tosign players.
Since taking over in November 2011, Mick McCarthy worked on a shoestring budget and built a team that finished in the top ten between 2013-2016, a great achievement considering the scarce resources. But after two stagnant seasons, falling attendances and fan frustration both parties agreed to not renew McCarthy’s contract in 2018. A decision that many felt was long overdue.
At the start of the current season Paul Hurst was the man to lead the Suffolk club away from the McCarthy era. But the departures of MartynWaghorn, Joe Garner and David McGoldrick in the summer of 2018 made this a daunting task for the young manager. After a tough pre-season and no wins in the first 14 games the McCarthy era didn’t seem so bad after all and on the 25thOctober Hurst was sacked by Ipswich, leaving the team 4 points adrift.
Paul Lambert was the next successor and the current manager of Ipswich, he has previously led a flurry of Championship clubs such as Norwich City and Aston Villa. But Lambert hasn’t been able to help the problem as Ipswich have slumped lower into the relegation zone.
The future of Ipswich Town
Ipswich Town’s relegation reality is now being accepted around the club and they are now preparing for League One football. Paul Lambert is ambitious about moving forward and has said openly to the press that the “club needs a cleanse”. He speaks of a long term vision which involves the academy and sacrificing the transfer budget in order for cheap ticket prices, a move to get the Ipswich fans back onside and through the gates. The use of young talent will be a solution to the transfer problem at Ipswich and it will significantly reduce player wages if they are able to offload some senior players.
The rebuilding of Ipswich Town seems very long overdue and League One may be the perfect place to start.
Are you excited Ipswich fans for the upcoming season?
Ipswich continue to battle survival tomorrow (9th March) at 3pm against West Brom at the Hawthorns.