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Town Takeover Close
Friday, 26th Feb 2021 15:05

TWTD understands Town’s US-backed takeover could happen as soon as next month.

As reported yesterday, speculation regarding a takeover at Portman Road has been circulating for a couple of weeks but is more advanced than has previously been suggested.

We understand the deal which would see the club change hands to a US-based group is worth £30 million.

Current owner Marcus Evans, who is set to write-off his debt, which will now have climbed to around £100 million, is understood to be keeping a five per cent stake in Town, presumably so he could potentially profit from a future sale if and when the Blues reach the Premier League.

It’s also believed that Evans will keep hold of some of the training ground, some or all of the Bent Lane side of the facility, with development having long been eyed for a small section of the field between already existing housing close to the road.

The ownership of that part of the training ground was transferred to another Evans company, London & Merchant Properties Limited, previously known as Marcus Evans (Guernsey) Ltd, in 2011 largely for tax reasons.

While Brett Johnson, from Phoenix Rising and FC Tucson, has entered the spotlight after following Town’s Twitter account in recent days, we understand the 51-year-old is just one of a number of investors.

TWTD understands that much of the cash will come from the pension fund for the fire and police services of a so-far unnamed US state.

Bristol City chief executive Mark Ashton has been strongly linked with the same role at Town as part of the takeover, and Robins head of operations/club secretary Luke Werhun is also believed to be wanted by the new set-up. However, there is no confirmation that either will be leaving Ashton Gate.

It’s believed that the consortium will look to bring in a new manager with The Athletic reporting that Paul Cook will be the man to replace current boss Paul Lambert.

Cook, 54, has been out of work since resigning from Wigan Athletic in the summer, having previously had spells in charge of Southport, Sligo, Accrington, Chesterfield and Portsmouth.

TWTD reported in January that Cook had been sounded out by Evans about taking over at Town should there be a vacancy.

Compensation will be due to the Latics' administrators with Cook still in contract with the Lancastrians when he departed.

Lincoln boss Michael Appleton was believed to be a target having previously worked at Oxford United with Ashton and Mike O’Leary, who along with Johnson is a director of Gamechanger 20, a company which was formed last year and is believed to be the vehicle for facilitating the takeover. Ashton is not among the directors.

However, Appleton yesterday signed a new four-year deal with the Imps and may have been less keen to move on from the division’s second-placed side even prior to penning his new contract.

Also among the directors of Gamechanger 20 is Berke Bakay, principal owner, governor and co-chairman of Phoenix Rising, who made his money from Kona Grill, a restaurant chain.

Like Ashton, O'Leary, who appears to be the driving force behind the consortium, has a background at West Brom having been the chief executive officer at the Hawthorns for two years in the early 2000s.

The takeover, which is not yet signed and sealed, would see a summer of great change at Portman Road, both on the field and off it.

Photo: Matchday Images

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BangaloreBlues added 16:39 - Feb 26
I'm deeply concerned our stadium will be given a new name, to help promote the business model that would be implemented. And what about the stands?

The McDonald's Stand
The KFC Stand
The Walmart Stand
And, of course, the Hot Dog Stand.

armadaleblue added 16:42 - Feb 26
I hope I’m wrong but I think this could be the final nail. I guess it all depends on the willingness to invest but a pension scheme isn’t going to be on it for anything other than money.

theipswichfile added 16:47 - Feb 26
pensionerblue - If this does materialise, I would expect the fat to be trimmed in the Summer. There are several players coming to the end of their contracts, we've got a huge squad so I would expect us to keep our best players and offload the dead wood. I would then imagine we would be likely to make a few key additions to create a cohesive squad with the aim of comfortably being promoted to the Championship with a squad that stands half a chance of relatively comfortable survival. In turn, that would push the price of the club up and then the prospective owners either continue to build, or sell us on for more profit with the club in a better state.

That's surely the aim, whether or not it works is another matter.

DoseOfReality added 16:52 - Feb 26
what I lift .. even if it falls through for the first time in 10 years there is hope .. Evans your abject failure is finally coming to an end 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

BobbyBell added 16:53 - Feb 26
Making a profit on a football club requires marketing and marketing works best with success. The big money is in the premier league so anyone wanting to make the club more valuable must intend getting to the top flight. Once you get there you will require huge investment to stay there so I'm guessing that's when they would sell what would then be a much more attractive club to buy. That's the dream for all of us but throwing money at a club doesn't always work as so many other clubs have found out.

Spanishblueblood added 16:54 - Feb 26
I have it on good authority that Ted Lasso and not Paul Cook, is set to be the new Town manager!

cornishblu added 16:55 - Feb 26
So change is want we want ....and credit to MM if he actually does the decent thing and writes off the debt that is suggested ....but let’s remember it’s his company debt not his own

...however pension funds will demand a high return , those thinking that the Orem is in our sights may sober up when we then get nothing to spend or that further debt is leveraged against the club AKA Galziers .....when a supporter of a club doesn’t take over there is only one thing in their sights ....profit !, ..even Klopp post winning the premier league can’t spend how he wants to


floridaboy added 16:56 - Feb 26
If all of this is true and lets hope it is, then Paul Cook will have a big say on who stays and who goes. There are a lot of players out of contract can see many of them not being offered new deals.

Be interesting to see what price season tickets will be. The new people might want to get bums on seats and make the season tickets very appealing.

If by some miracle we are in the play offs and who knows where that may lead then it might be the start of something really good for the club and fans.

Interesting times ahead over the next few months.

Well done Phil by the way!

grow_our_own added 17:01 - Feb 26
Erm, google earth suggests the Bent Lane section is a fairly sizable chunk of our training facilities. Don't we kind of need it? Evans will probably make a tidy few million from selling it off to developers. Maybe we can buy a chunk of he farm over the Street Rushmere to compensate?

inghamspur added 17:02 - Feb 26
Hooray, about bloody time!!

DoseOfReality added 17:03 - Feb 26

oldegold added 17:04 - Feb 26
Hold on guys...wait a could mean another manager called PAUL coming in......

IpswichToon added 17:06 - Feb 26
I really don’t like the sound of this. At least Evans had good intentions, but it sounds like this group are ‘somehow’ trying to turn a profit on flipping the club. I can’t see how that works out for us in the long run.

potter added 17:22 - Feb 26
I’m a bit baffled by a lot of the negativity around this. Would we want to just carry on under Lambert and Evans and drift off into the unthinkable depths of league 2 or try something to get us out of the mess that our club is currently in. I for one am excited to see what the future holds for this club whether up or down because the future under Evans is going only one way unfortunately

aas1010 added 17:25 - Feb 26
Sounds ok ! Looks like we may have a future ! 😁

Kulturarv added 17:28 - Feb 26
Please Marcus, could you now buy Norwich in stead and produce a 5 point plan and do what you are really good at? Take them to the Vanarama National League.


chopra777 added 17:30 - Feb 26
An early Xmas present, please do not get Trump involved now that he has time on his hands. It might be a short term ownership but it will be better than we have now. Cheers Evans for writing off the debt.

warktheline added 17:33 - Feb 26
Absolutely cracking news! Can’t stop smiling😃😃😃😁😁😆😄😃😀

norfolkbluey added 17:34 - Feb 26
If this is not fake news then we have to thank ME for the massive amount of write off money. He probably has a way of ensuring it is not as bad as it sounds but at least there is a change of direction so badly needed at our club. Whatever the situation we have no say so and we have to wait for the outcome. I have reservations especially about pension fund investors as many have indicated. We haven't a massive fan base as some clubs and I'm concerned the pitch is not big enough for American baseball!!, of the NFL. Let's just hope everyone.

essexccc added 17:36 - Feb 26
Difficult to see how people can see this as a bad development. In the current state of affairs, Marcus Evans can not keep increasing his debt with no chance of getting it back. And without him increasing his debt by further significant investment, there will be no real success on the field

So something must change.

Given that, a pension fund investment seems much better than potentially dodgy money or money from a wealthy individual which might withdraw on a whim.

As has been said above US and indeed Canadian Pension Funds often make significant investments in UK companies and of course they want a profit. Unless money is being laundered no investors in their right mind would not want a return on their investment. And what is wrong with that? If the prospective owners sell after making a profit, something will have gone right on the field, which is what we all want.

In our "beggars can't be choosers", I can't see a better solution than the one that appears to be on the table. I just hope that "appears" becomes reality and we can look forward with hope for the first time in a long while

bingboast added 17:49 - Feb 26
Im of an age where my thoughts are quite clear "be careful what you wish for" How is Mick Mc doing at Cardiff ?

bluemay77 added 17:50 - Feb 26
The sooner the better please

Daleyitfc added 17:50 - Feb 26
Now where are my share certificates? ... one of the conditions of letting Marcus Evans buy 87.5% of the club was that the remaining 12.5% i.e. mine (and a few thousand others ...) would automatically be included if Evans sold the club.

grow_our_own added 17:52 - Feb 26
Evans biggest problem is he can't choose a manager for toffee, and that's the main decision a chairman needs to make. Every single one has been poor. Also, his early strategy of buying success was proven wrong by Burley, yet he tried it again and failed. He refused to learn learn from our wealth of historical success. He just needed to follow the winning Ipswich playbook, but instead ripped it up. I'll reserve further judgement until we discover if he really is writing-off all the debt.

Ipswichbusiness added 18:11 - Feb 26
I think that several points need to be made.

First, ME will not write off any debts as a favour to us or anyone else. It will all be part of the overall structure of the deal (tax considerations included). If anything, it would be a sign of how desperate he is for an exit and the falling prices of non-Premiership football clubs.

Second, football has been hit hard by the pandemic with clubs struggling for solvency. It suspect that the new buyers are bottom fishing; looking for assets at their low point.

Third, from a football point of view, I am concerned that many players are out-of-contract at the end of the season. That means that if we are to change the ownership and/or manager we need to do so quickly so that the new team has a proper chance to decide who to retain and who to get rid of. My guess is that there will be quite a few in the latter category.

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