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Evans on Relegation, New Arrivals and the Promotion Challenge
Wednesday, 7th Aug 2019 11:26

Town owner Marcus Evans has written a column for Saturday’s match programme, which the club has given TWTD permission to reproduce in full.

The Season Ahead

As we all look forward with excitement to this season, the team at Portman Road and at the training ground have been hard at work since the final whistle against Leeds in preparation for a year where quite rightly our goal is for a return to the Championship.

It’s been a difficult summer at the club with a re-organisation taking place to meet the financial repercussions of relegation; however these challenges have been met with professionalism right throughout the club.

I am pleased to say that the reorganisation is complete and we are now set to go with the structure required to support the team’s promotion push.

Last year’s relegation, as I am sure all fans realise, has had economic consequences for the club and the effects add considerable strain to our finances and bring to the fore decisions relating to balancing short-term and long-term investment decisions.

At the top of my list of long-term priorities has been, despite the considerable drop in revenues which is close on £9 million, a determination to maintain and in fact grow the club’s investment in the academy.

This runs to multi-millions every year and not just for one year. So I have looked to ensure that these funds remain available year on year going forwards and are not risked by overspend on other long-term contract commitments.

Cash Made Available to Improve Fans’ Matchday Experience at Portman Road

I also put cash aside for some much-needed investment at Portman Road to improve your matchday experience. There has been a substantial outlay on a new CCTV security system to increase supporter safety; plans are in place to improve the speed of service across all bars in the concourse area; we are looking at upgrading the PA system; the North Stand roof will be the first to get a clean up with the other stands to follow and even the ticket office has had a makeover!

Other improvements around the stadium are at the planning stage. These range from simple painting and decorating to much more substantial and long-term projects - and significant financial outlay.

The training ground also required a number of planned infrastructure improvements to meet the requirements of an elite Academy and first-team environment.

The Money Game

The cost of running a football club isn’t exactly a sexy subject for most fans. However it’s a fact of life for those of us in that position and who are looking to run a club on a secure and sustainable basis.

I have to make sure that we can meet our commitments not just this year but for the next two, three and four years with many contracts having long-term implications.

The hard facts are that a trickle of cash from the Premier League and the club’s normal revenues aren’t enough, on their own, to enable us to compete in this league let alone the Championship. Hence the need for my additional investment each year.

There is annually a big hole in our finances (and most non-Premier League clubs) which has to be plugged by me in order to support the wage policy and provide transfer funds. This year has been more difficult than when we were in the Championship with my annual support going mainly - despite player wage reductions due to relegation - to support the club’s core financial requirements.

One of the questions I am asked all the time is where does all the money go from our transfer sales? The short answer is back into the club and you would be surprised at how far a large amount of money DOESN’T go in the football world.

So when balancing the club’s budgets, I have many issues to consider. I have an amount of money I put into the club each year and I have been consistent with that support every season.

This results in a budget being available through the club’s own income plus my annual support which has to be spread across a number of areas including wages; stadium and training ground infrastructure; improved contracts to existing players; academy costs and transfer fees to name some of the bigger areas. There are plenty more.

In most seasons I have been able to organise the club’s finances so that with the benefit of my annual support we have been able to invest, to a certain extent, in the transfer market.

Income from transfer sales and sell-ons in that time have helped to boost the overall budget which has mainly gone into the squad by way of additional wages or transfer fees. When you sell a player though, or get a sell-on fee, that rarely comes in one hit. It is spread over two, three, sometimes four years.

This year, with relegation costing the club up to £9 million, any income from player sales/sell-ons has been swallowed up by the financial gap caused by the drop into League One.

That said we do have funds available for a further two or three new players the manager and I would like to secure before the end of the window, to bring that bit extra to the squad and I hope that those we are targeting can be secured on terms that work for Ipswich.

I also want to ensure that, going forwards, we have funds to strengthen in January if we see gaps or injuries appear in the first half of the season.

Every fan, including me, can see how money could be spent but I have the task of matching desire with reality and whatever the pressures I will never do anything to risk the club’s financial security.

As always, I can assure every supporter not a penny is coming out of the club into my pocket. It never has. It goes back into the club’s budget and yes, as I have already said, that does include funds for transfers and additional wages when we find the right players at prices we can live with.

A Healthy Mix of Players at Different Stages in Their Career

On the pitch our plan remains the same - to play attractive, winning football supported by a stable management team with a healthy squad mix of some young players, some highly experienced and some still developing but with a large number of appearances under their belt.

I feel, with the players we have added in the summer, as well as agreeing longer-term contracts with existing players - Freddie Sears being the latest - we now have an exciting mix of talent ready for the challenges ahead.

Most of the players coming back from injury will be ready to go in weeks, not months, which will further strengthen our options.

Last season was a difficult time for some of the 2018 additions to flourish but having had a year to settle in, this is the year they can really get going.

For the first team, this summer has been as much about keeping our best as bringing in new additions. We have worked hard to keep all of our key players and while every player has a price at which monies can be reinvested for the benefit of the squad overall, I have wanted to do everything I can to avoid making the same mistake as last year by letting key players go when I could not replace them.

In terms of strengthening, as well as bringing in James [Norwood] and Tomas [Holy] on permanent deals, we have added Luke Garbutt from Everton. He is in the last year of his contract and could be looking for a new club next year. So there is a long-term plan behind some of our loans.

That long-term plan also includes having the cover to allow some of our younger players to go out on loan and get valuable experience playing first-team football elsewhere. We have seen the benefits of that with Luke Woolfenden for instance, who played over 30 games for Swindon last season. He has returned to us far better for the experience and ready to compete for a place in our first-team.

Will Norris has also joined us on loan from Wolves, which has freed up Bart to go out on loan to the Championship. He remains an Ipswich player though and will return to Portman Road at the end of the season.

I am pleased that we have signed new contracts with Freddie and Myles Kenlock. Again, that is all about the long-term.

Looking at the squad from front to back. James Norwood is an exciting addition, Jordan Roberts has played up there, Kayden has looked good in pre-season and we are all excited to see what he can do with a run of games in front of him. Of course, we have Freddie to come back in and we are still on the look out for another additional striker.

The Midfield is Awash With Talent

In the middle of the park we have so many options, giving the manager an enviable task of picking who to start. We have a great mix of experience and developing players in that area and it’s great to see Alan [Judge] in the squad, despite approaches from elsewhere.

I fully understand why a move to QPR would have appealed to Alan for personal and professional reasons but I must point out that he has always been totally professional in the way that he dealt with a difficult, personal situation and I know that he will be giving everything to the team this season as always.

I am looking forward to seeing Luke [Woolfenden], after his year on loan, challenging Toto [Nsiala] and Chambo [Luke Chambers]. We have also added James Wilson on a short term contract to add competition in the middle of defence.

In goal we have a huge prospect in Tomas challenged by the highly-thought of Will so there is real competition in that department.  

Judge the Manager on the Cards He Has Been Dealt

And one final point I want to make is that I hope everyone will judge the manager on the cards he has been dealt by me and not just on our expectations.

I know that expectations quite rightly are high and that due to Premier League parachute payments and big spenders in the Championship, we have gone from a team with a budget in the bottom 10 of the Championship to a team with a budget in the top 10 of League One.

However, please reflect on the fact that I have asked Paul, along with his coaching staff to accept the challenge of developing a team, not just for this year - which absent any player sales will be without the benefit of any significant transfer budget - but for the years ahead as well.

He will be giving our younger players a chance and they will need time and support along the way. This league has some big teams and experienced squads to pit against our developing talent. We are not the only club aiming for a top two position.

That said, be assured that everyone is working at full throttle to get the most out of the group and have a season we can be proud of.

Let’s have a great season and if your support is even half as good as last year (but let’s crank it up a notch) then you will be more than doing your part to push us over the line.

Photo: Action Images

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armyofblueandwhite added 11:31 - Aug 7

VanDusen added 11:33 - Aug 7
Fair enough. But if things go wrong then even Evans himself has urged us not to blame Lambert. I hope we all remember that as the last thing we want is to lose a good manager and get another Hurst.

Town_Boy added 11:36 - Aug 7
So none of the money had gone into his pocket.. Hmmmm 🤦‍♂️

Roola added 11:37 - Aug 7
So if things go wrong, what is Evans going to do about it?!?

Marshalls_Mullet added 11:37 - Aug 7
Cant argue with any of that.

Karlosfandangal added 11:37 - Aug 7
People forget that there is more to a football club than buying players.
People selling hot dogs or cleaning the loos still need to be paid.
Everyone blames Evans for not spending millions on players, I blame more football when a club like Ipswich are paying 15 million in wages to the first team squad

oH_bluey added 11:40 - Aug 7
Very honest. I wait for the three incomings then ME.

brazil1982 added 11:40 - Aug 7
Can't disagree with much of that.

However - how does an Academy cost Millions to run every year? - what is that money spent on?

shouldistayorcounago added 11:43 - Aug 7
Says the right things but will he deliver? We had this at the end of the season and got to say it's largely been untrue. We will see if we do make any signings but I find it hard to believe much of what he says.

Positive about the manager and the players on the pitch, not confident that the man with the money means what he says. His poor decisions have put us in this position, hopefully he can string some good ones together to get us out.

gazzer1999 added 11:45 - Aug 7
Sorry Marcus, you don't need to convince me everything you have said I agree with. It will be the faceless fools on this forum that never set foot in Portman Road and just like to talk rubbish about spending money the club doesn't have. They are all experts that have run multi million pound businesses and know better about money than yourself. They will continue to run the club down, however we have seen one administration we do not want another, especially now it comes with points deductions unlike when we got away with it.
Very glad you have confirmed that the sell ons come in sporadically, so in reality very little extra straight away. Your comments nor mine will be appreciated by the few, but will by the many. (Sorry Labour crap talk).

cowboynickblue added 11:46 - Aug 7
At least he has been honest. Not exactly want we ant to hear. Wonder how much of this was Paul Lambert forcing him to speak up? Hope we can make the couple of signings that he spoke about and soon.

Pencilpete added 11:49 - Aug 7
We wanted to hear from him and get his explanation and we have. We might not like it or agree with it but that's the way it is.

I don't for one moment think Evan's is fantastic but I dont think he is a disaster either - fans of Bury and Bolton would kill for an owner than runs their club sensibly and to a budget

jdtractor96 added 11:49 - Aug 7
Quite a refreshing read in my opinion. ME definitely appears to have learnt from last summer's mistake of selling our best players (by keeping Judge). I think we should be very pleased with our transfer business SO FAR, we just need to get another striker and fullback in ASAP to bolster the squad. Once Edwards, Nsiala, Nolan and Lankester (plus Sears & Bish longer term) our squad should be more than capable of pushing for automatic promotion. In terms of the finances, ME is right in saying we can't compete financially with the championship top 10. Of course I would love a billionaire takeover to get us back to the promise land, but at the moment we are at least financially stable unlike Bolton for example. MM did work wonders on the shoestring budget, but the football was sh1te and we weren't giving many club grown players a chance. The club as a whole is so much more positive with PL as manager. It is difficult to please everyone, but I for one am very proud to be an Ipswich fan right now. COYB

ShropshireBluenago09 added 11:50 - Aug 7
Honest and transparent. Think we have a good enough squad to gain promotion, a couple mot through the door would be nice particularly another striker. At least ME has realised the mistakes made last season, especially letting go McG, Waghorn and Garner, without suitable replacements. At that stage it was Hurst and Milne who ultimately made that mistake.

DJ27 added 11:50 - Aug 7
We have no money, it's not what i or any other fans want to hear, but it is the reality of a football club outside the premier league. I'm not sure Marcus is as cash rich as some fans make out. Of course he is compared to Joe Public, but not in comparison to other owners. Until the respective governing bodies get together and drip feed a lot more finances down the football pyramid, this is where we are. We spend a lot more money than we earn, it's simple economics, and until we 'earn' more, we can't spend. He states that he is continuing to invest in the academy, and i think he's seen that we need to find a couple of young players that we can sell to the premier league for big money, and i'm talking £20m, that is what he is gambling on, hopefully it will pay off. Having said all that, its good to hear that there is money available for 2 or 3 transfers, so hopefully when Prem and champ window shuts tomorrow, things will gather a bit more pace. Bring on Sunderland!!

Wallingford_Boy added 11:51 - Aug 7
Fair enough. Think that confirms the situation and he certainly has invested and continues to invest plenty into our beloved club. May shut a few of the moaners up.... but I doubt it.

Chicago_Blue added 11:52 - Aug 7
Something that's always puzzled (and annoyed) me is that when we sell a player, we get told the funds will be reinvested in the playing squad. That usually results in a loan or free transfer player coming in, when we're then told that the funds support that new player's wages. Thing is, if we've sold a player, not only have we got the money from the transfer coming in, but also that player off the wage bill. So begs the question, how come the new player's wages aren't purely replacing the outgoing player's wages? - and what happens to the transfer fee?

Bluearmy_81 added 11:57 - Aug 7
Great bit of PR, just what the doctor ordered!! Some will be taken in by all that for another 3 years till the next release. Words are cheap, and actions speak louder than words, I'll wait for concrete actions backing his words up. Until then #Evansout.

04willr added 11:58 - Aug 7
This is what a "normal" owner has to deal with, balancing the books for infrastructure upgrades, non-playing staff and the academy. Its not just about throwing cash at a manager a and squad of players. The stark reality is we simply don't have the finances to be a sustainable football club if we start throwing money at new signings. I think this will be the case for a long time, unless an unbelievable crop of youth players emerge or we get taken over by a silly rich owner.

Paulc added 12:00 - Aug 7
Anyone questioning that ME doesn’t pocket any of the club’s income should get a copy of the accounts (they are public record). He clearly invests every year, but some people only see the transfer activity as a yardstick. Wake up people, his approach is 100% correct, if you still want the club in existence in 5 years time. If you can’t accept the facts, go support Man City or Chelsea.

Len_Brennan added 12:00 - Aug 7
It would be easier to accept the undeniable realities of what ME is saying here, if he is generally more visable & available to the fans. The only reason we are getting this explanation now is due to the audible dissatisfaction among the fans, which has been increasing as the summer went on.
Look, the signing of Norwood was impressive in its identification of exactly the type of player we needed & in its execution before others got involved. But, you can't always get the very player you need for a key position on a free transfer. Reading the statement it does appear that the money being made available for the proposed 3 extra players will only go on wages. I think that in itself might be shortsighted. ME is right about the quality of our midfield, but defensively we needed strengthening & I feel we will regret not pushing the boat out, even a little, to get in the quality that could be the difference in us being playoff contenders to automatic promotion contenders.

unstableblue added 12:02 - Aug 7
A good statement that I hope fans take on board

Uhlenbeek added 12:04 - Aug 7
All very sensible and positive, like last seasons address. Great...but the proof is clearly in the pudding and the current pudding looks like it has been made with postwar food rationing

BurleysGloryDays added 12:04 - Aug 7
We're lucky to have a stable owner.

I think he's learned a lot.

Short of a new Dubai owner, who isn't going to be attracted to a club that doesn't even fills its stands....

MoscowBlueMule added 12:05 - Aug 7
I’m very pleased that ME has finally come out and explained what most of us thought was going on in the background, but couldn’t be sure.

I actually firmly believe that he does not pocket any of the money received from transfers and sell on’s. Running a football club is a financial black whole and the Premier League has a lot to answer to for that.

I would however, be delighted if an accountant who is FFP savvy could put a figure of how much ME invests into ITFC each year comparing that to how much he actually could without breaking the rules.

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