What is behind the ongoing change at Portman Road?

There is an intriguing football story quietly brewing in East Anglia. Yes, Ipswich Town is on the march again but their story has, to a large degree, flown under the radar. Perhaps this is down to the League One season still being in its infancy and people refusing to acknowledge genuine title contenders until the clocks go back, but there is a quiet expectation around Suffolk that the Tractor Boys are header for promotion.

League One Odds

A look at the most up-to-date online football betting odds for League One would support this confidence with Ipswich priced at just -450 to go up. Essentially, it’s hard to argue with this sentiment given how polished Ipswich look this season and as of mid-November, the Blues are pushing near the top of the table after a strong start to the season.

It should be said that there were signs during the second half of last season that the Tractor Boys could have found the momentum needed for promotion after appointing Kieran McKenna as their new manager. Indeed, Ipswich finished the season positively under the former assistant to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford which led to the club’s ambitious owner giving the green light to development at Portman Road. At the time, the brief was to get the ground in line with Premier League requirements; a statement of intent if there ever was one. 

Upgrades Galore

Over the course of the 2022 summer, we saw the first upgrades taking place as the club installed a new big screen in the South-East corner of the stadium whilst adding new seats to the dugouts. In addition to that, electronic advertising boards were put in place before the club set about upgrading the public announcement system.

Granted, these aren’t development alterations that would rival the construction of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium but they are equally ambitions in their own right. In fact, it’s easy to forget that Portman Road is an impressive stadium with an extremely respectable capacity despite the club’s status of being in the third tier. This was proved in the latest figures for the club’s average attendance during the 2021/2022 season as the Blues pulled in 21,779 over the course of the campaign. It was the third best in League One, only bettered by Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland, but tellingly, it was better than the average attendance of three Premier League clubs. 

With this in mind, it doesn’t seem in any way outlandish that Ipswich would be pushing for eventual promotion to the Premier league. As touched on, the club is ahead of developments and has at this early stage, already begun preparing Portman Road for the return of top-flight football. 

There are, of course, immediate hurdles to get over in the short-term with the Blues needing to escape League One first but it does seem now to be a case of when and not if they will. In reality, you could say that the revolution in Suffolk has already begun, it’s been a low-key affair to date but makes no mistake about it, one of England’s finest football institutions has not only mapped out the way back to the Premier League but already started on the journey.

Huynh Nguyen

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