Ipswich buy training ground land as part of 'multi-million' upgrade
Written by Training Ground Guru — September 26, 2023
IPSWICH TOWN have “started the process” of purchasing additional land at their Playford Road training ground as they get set for a “multi-million pound spend” on facilities.
The land in question is located on the Bent Lane side of their training facility and is believed to be owned by former Chairman Marcus Evans. This is key to Ipswich delivering "an elite performance environment for the men’s, women’s and Academy squads.”
Last November, the club invested “in the region of £1.5m” in three full-sized training pitches on the Playford Road side of their training ground, close to their indoor dome.
Manager Kieran McKenna wanted three full-sized pitches, which could not be accommodated on the Bent Lane side of the complex, where the men's first team had been based.
Chief Executive Mark Ashton, who will be appearing at TGG Live in Manchester on October 9th, said: “I mentioned at the Fans’ Forum (earlier in September) that the next big project would be the training ground.
“We’ve invoked architects to work on designs. We need a total rebuild of the training ground for the first team, a more professional environment in which Kieran McKenna can work and develop first-team players.
“We have the new pitches now, but we need a multi-million-pound spend on facilities at the training ground to bring us up to speed. In addition to this, further developments for our Academy and women’s teams will be included.”
McKenna added: "I’ll have input into what I think would be essential and for what I would like, but it’s more about the future of the football club and the legacy we want to leave behind, maybe many years down the line when I’m not here.
“If we want to be a top football club and operate at the higher echelons of the game, then we need a training facility which is suitably matches that. The owners have been fantastic in supporting the changes that myself and the staff have wanted to make within the building (on the Bent Lane side) that we have here over the last 18 months, but there's still work to be done.
“It’s a building that was built for the Academy and now we have the men’s team, the women’s team and the academy age groups all sharing out of that same building.
"The club has managed well with Portakabins, but having a more state-of-the-art, purpose-built first-team training facility would be beneficial for now and for the future of the club.”
Since American owners Gamechanger 20 took over the club in April 2021, both the interior and exterior of Portman Road has been upgraded, with a new £2.5m playing surface installed over the summer.
At the end of last year, Ashton spoke about the three new training ground pitches, while insisting they were only the start of bigger plans.
“They are the best pitches we have got across the club and have all the integrated irrigation system, the water and the pop-ups and are Premier League pitches,” he said.
“Kieran only joined us a year ago and, midway through that time asked for the pitches. They are now ready so that’s moving at breakneck speed. Right now, the ones at Bent Lane are deteriorating because the infrastructure on the build of those pitches, done a long time ago, wasn’t sufficient to get them through the winter.
“The new ones are so we’ll be moving over. One of the things Kieran wanted was three full-size pitches and we can’t have that on the Bent Lane side. We’ll then go onto other developments at the training ground around buildings, changing rooms and things like that. But we move at breakneck speed right across the board.
“That’s the standards Kieran and his staff set, which helps us with recruitment because one thing’s for sure – players talk.”