|From Marcus's Side of the Fence|
Written by essexccc on Thursday, 25th Feb 2021 18:47
Most of the thinking, including my own, around the possible sale of the club, has quite naturally focused on the possibilities from the club's and supporters' points of view.
There is little doubt that the majority of people, despite some 'careful of what you wish for' cautionary comments, would like to see a change of ownership. In that regard most of the commentary on TWTD has, again quite reasonably, focused on who might buy the club.
But every sale must have a seller as well as a willing buyer. In this case the seller is effectively Marcus Evans, as the main shareholder behind the group which owns ITFC.
I have no more knowledge about any possible sale than anyone else who has posted on TWTD, and certainly less than anyone who has any knowledge which is not speculation.
But I thought it might be interesting to set out how Marcus might see the current situation.
His position is certainly unenviable, indeed more so than the position of those of us who love the club through their support. Undoubtedly the club is in emotional debt to its supporters but none of us is owed c£100m.
What does £100m mean to Marcus Evans? For the last couple of years he has been listed as being worth around £750m in the <i>Sunday Times</i> Rich List. That list was most recently published last autumn. Since then, as has been noted on this site before, Marcus's entertainment and ticketing business must have suffered significantly because of Covid.
I don't know how the <i>Sunday Times</i> calculates the worth of those on its Rich List but I'd imagine much of the value is based on investments and in Marcus's case that probably means shares in his companies (other than ITFC!).
If that is the case, the value of his net worth is likely to have decreased - possibly significantly since the last Rich List was published. And if I am right that his net worth is based on the value of his companies' shares, that is not something he can easily turn into cash, £100m of which has been lost in his ITFC project. His liquidity situation could be quite poor.
So how can he improve his position? There's no chance of us getting back to the Premier League with the current level of under-investment. I'm sure that a quick return to the Premier League was his Plan A, when initially buying the club.
Doing nothing will just mean that he drip feeds cash to the club to enable it to get by. But that just increases the debt and annoys all us supporters. This is what we are seeing now resulting in little hope of improvement on the pitch and he is still losing money, albeit in smaller amounts.
The obvious tactic when a lender knows that its borrowing is increasing with little hope of change is to ask for it to be repaid, which Marcus could do and we would watch the club go through administration for a second time (incidentally a good quiz question is which is the only former Premier League club which was in administration at the same time as its main sponsor? Answer ITFC and TXU Energi).
But what would Marcus get out of an administration? I believe that he owns Playford Road through another of his companies and currently rents it to the club but the club going into administration would not change his ownership of the training ground. The council, of course, owns Portman Road. So what could be sold that would produce much cash for Marcus? Well players, of course. But in a fire sale only a fraction of true worth is realised. We saw that in the last administration.
Perhaps £15m, top whack might come from the sale of players and other miscellaneous assets. Take from that any priority amounts owed to other clubs on transfer fees - probably not much in fairness - and of course administrators' fees and costs and you are probably down to perhaps £12m and that might take years to be paid out, such are the timeframes in administrations. Not much help to Marcus's liquidity.
So whilst I have absolutely no knowledge of any interest in the club, an offer of £30m, which has been bandied about, might be enough to tempt Marcus. It could go straight into his back pocket and he could forget about his ill-starred football club ownership and concentrate on the businesses that have made him lots of money, rather than the one that has lost him lots.
So it might suit Marcus to sell at £30m, but are the hopes for a buyer realistic at that amount? Who knows?
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