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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.

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nathitfc89 added 12:05 - Aug 7
Everyone and PL wanted ME to come out and tell the fans the truth and to straighten out a few things regarding money,transfers ect. he has done that, now stop moaning and get behind the lads.
25

Bluearmy_81 added 12:06 - Aug 7
There's gullible then there's some Town fans on here... Tell em what they want to hear...
-21

muccletonjoe added 12:07 - Aug 7
Ok then. Its a fair enough assessment of where we are at.
3

cranky_old_tractor added 12:08 - Aug 7
An honest and open response thinking of sustainability as well as trying to nature success in a challenging fiscal situation. I appreciate MEs response in running ITFC business. Passion for ITFC can get the better of us but stop to think about other clubs in our league with fiscal problems and minus points.
8

prebbs007 added 12:10 - Aug 7
Utter tosh. The deficit “I have put in every year” is NOT from your pocket you lying git, it comes from your dodgy ticket selling at Olympics and your corporate entertainment businesses and it suits the overall business portfolio for ITFC to “lose” money to reduce your overall tax burden. Don’t try to tell us each business is separate they’re all part of the Marcus Evans group and that’s why there have been and are ongoing investigations into the accounts. At current estimates our owner is worth just under £800 million and that has only gone up in the last 5 years so there has been no money “lost” while owning ITFC yet we have gone from being 1 game away from the Premier League to division 3 so shrouding your “investment” hasn’t exactly hurt the wallet. You may pull the wool over they eyes of many financially unaware supporters but anyone who knows how a business is run will just laugh at your drivel. Huge mistakes have been made in the transfer market in recent years it would take a minimal amount to get out of this division so it’s about time you really spend some of your actual money rather than pretending that you have !!!!

Cue all the -ve marks from the rose tinted glasses wearers
-19

cranky_old_tractor added 12:10 - Aug 7
spell check - nurture not nature
0

Bluearmy_81 added 12:11 - Aug 7
Stop setting the bar so low for ITFC, comparing us to Bury and Bolton. You lot are the most cautious, conservative lot I have ever come across. The most extreme example of better the devil you know possibly ever. He's taken us to the 3rd tier ffs!!
-12

vanmunt added 12:14 - Aug 7
Had all summer to paint some walls and clean up the roofs.. if that sort of action plan is like transfers I can see why nothing gets done.
8

Gilesy added 12:17 - Aug 7
Prebbs....I voted you up. It was entirely by mistake.

Bluearmy...you just speak in soundbites and don't actually address any if the facts. Your mind is made up and that's that. Bet you like Donald Trump and think we should leave with no deal too.
1

BurleysGloryDays added 12:17 - Aug 7
BlueArmy_81

100% of this forum shares your ambition for ITFC.

99% don't like you attacking the owner without any plausible alternative. It spreads deep negativity at a time when the club desperately needs to stand together, strong, united, on the same page.

There is no alternative owner. Until there is, we are lucky to have one that cares about the club and bank rolls it just to exist. He's honest - has made mistakes which cost him more than anyone else. He's even happy to be the scapegoat for Lambo to build something, with time and the fans on board.

I've changed my mind: I do believe you want the best for the club. I think you're going about it all wrong. I wish your energies were spend doing all you could to help us fill the stadium every week, even if you're not local. You've got passion, you've got a lot to give.

Just please, turn it into positive passion!

7

SuffolkBlue11 added 12:20 - Aug 7
Quite happy with what he's said however, 'investment in the academy' isn't necessarily enough; unless the investment is to bring our academy up to Cat 1 we're going to continue to lose players e.g. Flores and Knight.
1

londontractorboy57 added 12:21 - Aug 7
Bluearmy_81 you and your ilk ask for a statement when you get it you dont believe it!
One things for sure in the modern footballing economic climate No Evans =No ITFC
5

DurhamTownFan added 12:21 - Aug 7
Part of me sees where he's coming from, but its laughable how many people have read this and then comment positively about the job he is doing. You're all sucking it up again!

Bottom line is where we should judge it: the club is a pale shadow of what it was when he took over. Dare I compare us to Derby..?
4

lordpukka added 12:23 - Aug 7
I have a couple of questions for Marcus - firstly, how much debt is on the club at the moment? Has the money you have "given" to the club been a gift, or has it been loaded on as debts or loans to the club? When the club debt was bought by Marcus from Barclays (£32m debt bought for around £6.5m) was the debt cleared or do we still owe it back to ME? And if we owe it back, do we owe £6.5m or £32m. There are lots of reasons why people buy clubs, but most want to get money back, and knowing ME and his business practices over the years, he isn't doing this for the love of ITFC. I'd like to see TWTD and EADT start asking more of the questions about the financial aspects of ME's reign. It may be that he has cleared all our debts so that the club is set up for the future, but suspicions remain that he hasn't. More transparency is called for, rather than another start of season platitudes and false dawns/promises
9

DurhamTownFan added 12:26 - Aug 7
londontractorboy: that's laughable!
1

Bluearmy_81 added 12:26 - Aug 7
Until there is, we are lucky to have one that cares about the club
Fcking hillarious. How do you know that?!! Cos he says so?!!! 😂🤣 Comedy gold
-8

Tractorboy1985 added 12:27 - Aug 7
Yet more drivel... least the happy clappy fans are happy with his one and only statement of the year! He says one thing and does another.. has done for 10 years.. what’s the point in pumping money into an academy only to flog them when they have a good season for peanuts! Personally I’d rather look at paint falling off walls in the bogs and waiting 10 minutes for a pint if it was to mean we had an exciting player to watch! That’s why we go after all isn’t it?
-1

blues1 added 12:30 - Aug 7
Bluearmy81. What a surprise. NOT. of all the posts so far, urs are the only negative ones. As I stated the other day, ifcevans did what we all wanted and made a statement youd simply dismiss it. Sure dolphin , jas0999 and itfcsince73 will soon join you tho. And people are not comparing us to bolton and bury. Simply pointing out, that if Evans ran the club the way you wanted we would likely be in their position.
7

cleggo added 12:33 - Aug 7
struggling to fathom exactly what in-depth planning could be required to paint the exterior of the stadium for it to be taking this long. Surely just a tin of paint and a painter are required?
3

DoseOfReality added 12:36 - Aug 7
This is what we needed to hear, an honest evaluation of where we are and what is required.

It has gone a long way with most fans, or at least should do.

What you also have to do Marcus is make sure Lambert gets his 3 targets and then after years of wasted effort, money and total boredom we're back on track. But you have to find the money to back Lambert wholeheartedly ... just like the fans have.

I would guess there are hundreds more season tickets ready to be snapped up when we see the small investment needed.

You lost us over the last few years and we need actions not just words.
2

blueinscotland added 12:40 - Aug 7
I find the ambivalence over Evans on this website confusing. One day all the anti-Evans comments get upvoted, the next they get downvoted and all the positive remarks about Evans get upvoted.

I appreciate his honesty, but you have to be realistic: without salient investment in the squad, this club will only go one way. I struggle to comprehend how some fans are ignoring the obvious decline in this club since Evans took over. Hopefully we do get two or three in before the closure of the window, otherwise all this statement is is a series of empty words.
12

JimInGreensboro added 12:46 - Aug 7
One might ask how other clubs do it, then.
6

Carl2588 added 12:52 - Aug 7
He's alright as far as owners go people don't realise the cash he actually injects to run the club look at Bolton or Bury
-1

BurleysGloryDays added 12:53 - Aug 7
BlueArmy_81 - shame you can't engage in the points i've made to you.

I think though, the 99% of town fans will respect Evans for bankrolling 90m personal debt, rather than respect you for throwing stones with no plausible alternative.

You'd do more damage to our club in 5 mins than Evans could ever do.

In fact, you're already damaging the club by being toxic among the fans.

For what it's worth - i've consistently backed Evans and consistently will continue to do so until a richer, but equally stable owner comes along prepared to have some fun by spending a fortune. Evans said last year he would sell in those circumstances he would sell to such an owner, provided they demonstrated they would look after the club. An example, incidentally, of how he cares.
4

Bluearmy_81 added 12:57 - Aug 7
"He's alright as far as owners go..."
Oh. Ok. Debt from circa 30m to circa 90m. Gates from 25k to 14k. Knocking on the door of the playoffs to third division in 12 years. If that's your idea of 'ok' I'd hate to see your idea of a bad owner!!! 🤣😂
4


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