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Owner Evans on Cook, Lambert and Takeover Talk
Wednesday, 3rd Mar 2021 18:59

Blues owner Marcus Evans has written an open letter to fans regarding recent developments at the club, including Paul Lambert's departure, Paul Cook's appointment and the proposed takeover, insisting that there is no offer "currently acceptable to me or the club" and revealing that he received a different enquiry a fortnight ago.

Dear fellow fan

I would like to start by welcoming Paul Cook to the club as our new manager. When it became apparent that I needed to look for someone new to lead our challenge for promotion over the rest of the season, Paul was always at the forefront of my mind.

I sought opinion from inside the club and spoke to a number of experienced football people outside as well and when we discussed the potential list of options and what was needed at the club  - experience, a track record of getting clubs promoted, knowledge of League One and the Championship, a reputation for playing a brand of football that is in alignment with our ethos. It was agreed that Paul fits them all.

The process saw a first for me, having to recruit a prospective manager over Zoom however the medium did nothing to dampen Paul’s obvious passion for the role.

I have had to move quickly since the weekend but Paul has already met the squad and staff and has impressed a lot of people with what he has said and his clear desire and determination to take this club back to the Championship.

I’m delighted - but not surprised - that his appointment has been so well received by supporters and the media. In many ways, it has been the same with all the managers I have appointed but as we know in football, results always dictate opinions on whether an appointment was right or not.

It will be the same with Paul no doubt. That’s football but I firmly believe that Paul has all the credentials to take Ipswich Town forward and he will receive all the support I can give him to help him achieve that.

As Paul has said, promotion to the Championship is the goal for us this season and I know he believes with the squad we have, a top two position is within reach.

Gary Roberts - who many of you will remember from his time here as a player - has joined the coaching squad  and he will work alongside Matt Gill as one of two first-team coaches, with Jimmy Walker as our goalkeeping-coach. Welcome back Gary!

Contrary to what you may think, Paul Lambert and I parted on good terms. Yes, we had a difference of opinion on a number of things at the end and that made it right for all concerned that we went our separate ways, but I wish him and Stuart Taylor every success and I told him that in our last series of Zoom conversations as owner and manager.

I’m not going into detail about what those disagreements were - other than to say that we have a squad as good as any in the division and a training ground that is equal, if not better, than some in the Championship.

There were some points raised by Paul that I will take on board and look at when the time is right but while it pains me to say it - and hopefully not for long - we are a League One club playing football in the middle of a pandemic and we have to operate accordingly. The time is not right to fiddle while Rome burns.

We have no non-matchday revenues and no matchday income, which amounts to around £175,000 in lost revenue every game but we still have extensive costs to cover in terms of running a football club and that doesn’t just include those associated with the first-team and you will already be aware that we were operating at the maximum allowed by the salary cap that was introduced at the start of the season. I could not have spent another penny on the squad without breaching EFL rules.

The academy costs £2 million a year to run, every year and from the start of the pandemic I ring-fenced that spending to ensure no reductions in the investment.

We have recently spent significant figures on improving the training ground, upgrading the ticket system, improving the CCTV coverage at Portman Road to provide fans with a safer environment and providing an improved payment system for supporters on matchday - which I hope you will see the benefit of when you return.

Plans are also in place for cosmetic surgery at the stadium as well, including the possibility of having a giant screen in the FanZone, more branding around the ground including recognition of the club’s history running along the ‘windows’ of the Cobbold Stand and an upgrade to the PA system.

Please be assured your club has a cohesive and continuing infrastructure improvement plan in place to improve both the fan experience and support to the first team.

Yes, Covid has put some of those changes on hold just as it has presented each and every one of us with massive challenges in our personal and business lives. For all of us it’s been the most challenging year and it’s the same for me as owner of this football club. I’m sure every owner will say the same.

I am, however, hugely proud that we are coming through it without having to lose any staff. The Government’s Job Retention Scheme has helped in that respect but it has always been our ambition to keep job losses to an absolute minimum.

I also must point out the tireless efforts of the unsung heroes at the club who through the pandemic have strived to ensure that every aspect of the club’s infrastructure has remained entirely fit for purpose whilst where possible continuing with the improvement plan.

A ‘£10 million black hole’ figure has been mentioned if no supporters were allowed into the stadium this season and while every EFL club in our division has received a payment from the Premier League, that gets nowhere near covering the losses we will face and I do believe that if football comes out the other side of the pandemic with all clubs intact, then that will be remarkable.

It won’t just be this season that clubs have to survive, they will need to operate next year as well with some resilience built into their business models against future shocks, though hopefully the vaccine can be the magic bullet to normality returning to our matchday.

Clearly, with no supporters allowed into the stadium this season -  I will need to look at compensation for season ticket holders who have spent a lot of money and missed out on live football. I am in the process of doing that now and full details will follow as soon as we are in a position to make that public.

We are waiting to see if we qualify for any additional ‘rescue’ payment from the Premier League. We may do but there are stipulations on how that payment is made and also it may well have an impact on our ability to add to the squad in the summer transfer window so there are decisions to be made on whether we even apply for that financial help.

That brings me neatly to more talk of financial help in the form of a takeover! I’m sure you are aware of the media stories that have been swirling around over the last week or two suggesting that I am about to sell the club.

Let me put on record that in my 13 years plus as owner of Ipswich Town, I have never looked to sell the club. That is still the case.

In that time I have received approaches to see if I would sell - some credible - some not so. I received another new enquiry only two weeks ago (not the one reported in the media) and in each case, I have looked first and foremost at whether that investment would be in the long-term best interests of the club and also not to forget the interests of the army of small shareholders, whose equity I have never diluted, by looking to turn my debts into club equity.

They still remain as just over 10 per cent shareholders in the club through their shares in ITFC PLC and I would always want to ensure they are fairly treated.

There are many examples of clubs that have gone for risky short-term fixes or sold out to investors who found it all too easy to walk away when the going gets tough.

I am fully supportive of foreign ownership of English football clubs and many have been great additions to the UK club landscape, however, football is not a normal business, with much beyond financial pressures on owners, and one needs to take that into account when judging the long-term commitment of possible investors with no personal roots in the community.

The clubs that got it wrong paid a heavy price, sometimes very quickly. I have invested too much time, energy and funding to put this club at risk.

I am not going to deny there has always been interest in Ipswich Town, ours is a great club with great history and a potentially great future, but please don’t take everything you read in the media as ‘the state of play’.

I have had detailed offers for the club past and present but there has been nothing brand new in the last 12 months, though a number of those with historic interest come back from time to time and there is nothing that is currently acceptable to me or the club and I reiterate that any decision that needs to be made by me will be based on what is right in the long term.

I have said for the last few years that, as new football investors with potentially greater investment pain thresholds than me appear on the scene, if I feel someone is in a better position than me to carry the club forward with sustained investment, I will step aside. If
I have my concerns having had unique access to look behind the mask of interested parties, I won’t sell, end of.

One thing I can confirm, if I feel there is something to say officially on the matter, you the supporters will be the first to hear from me.
But for now, the only focus I have is supporting our new manager and the players in what promises to be an exciting conclusion to the season.

Thanks as always for your support for the club and let’s get right behind Paul and the team - albeit sadly from afar!

Photo: Matchday Images

Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.

BromleyBloo added 19:33 - Mar 3
“Let me put on record that in my 13 years plus as owner of Ipswich Town, I have never looked to sell the club. That is still the case.”

God help us - the “Going got tough” 13 years ago when you became the owner you clown!!! No one is interested in listening to more self-deluded spin from you trying to explain and justify your utter ineptitude.

Just sell the club ASAP and go...............

shortmarine1969 added 19:34 - Mar 3
The bloke needs to go-he has little to no intrest in moving us forward - years of decline, under investment in the playing squad, sit squarely on his shoulders. his ownership by any metric has been an utter failure. He is the one common denominator in the whole sorry affair - and for anybody that comes back he has put 100 million in - he has not that is 10,s of millions out,.

He bought the debt of 0er 30 million for under 6 million and added the full 30 to the debt owed to him - so a ballpark of 25 mil gone of the 100 mil.

He got paid interest on the total debt for a number of years.

He gets corporate level advertising over the last 13years -is he paying the commercial rate for that ??

He has absorbed monies in for players sales and not shelled out anything like that on players

He has likely offset the ITFC losses against the MEI group *they own us* - nothing wrong with that either - but it simply reduces his outlay somewhere else - once again we are talking millions here over 13 years

If he gets 17.5 mil as reported t -plus he keeps Playford and 5% in preferential shares.

that is very likely to take the money he has put into more around the 50 mil mark - yes a large sum - but not 100 mil and nobody forced the bloke to try his luck - and let's face it thats what he did when he bought us - chucked money at it , money was spunked away by that tool Keane! and ME quick profits were gone.

If ME stays we are not going to go anywhere fast - he is the issue


Marcus added 19:36 - Mar 3
Stop writing letters and talk to people. This 'power distance' is the main reason people turned against Evans. We used to be a community club but now a distant owner is alienating supporters.

Gilesy added 19:36 - Mar 3
A non disclosure agreement doesn’t require a categorical abs voluntary denial of rumours.

Saxonblue74 added 19:42 - Mar 3
Personally, quite reassured by this. I have serious reservations about the reported American bid. Perhaps if we begin to see a consistent upward curve on the pitch then ME’s ownership will come under less scrutiny. Success under Paul Cook would likely result in further investment in the squad, although I do think we could achieve a reasonable level of success with our current personnel. Players often experience a resurgence in form under a new manager and we have many with potential to do so.

Gforce added 19:43 - Mar 3
Oh dear, thats put a spanner in the works.

budgieplucker added 19:48 - Mar 3
I think ME gets an unfair bad wrap from many fans.

He has made many mistakes but has tried to preserve many aspects of old ITFC

> give his managers a fair shot time wise
> doesn’t interfere like many owners and gives the manager a lot of autonomy
> gives significant support to the academy and following the Ipswich way of producing our own talent

The Cobbold’s knew a damn site more about alcohol than they did football but were tremendous owners and custodian of the club.

Despite my many frustrations and some criticisms with ME for not releasing the purse strings a little more modestly at critical times I don’t hold with the vilification of him.

Listening to the guy on the podcast the other night from the athletic it brought home the fact that owners like Mel Morris (Derby) and the guy at Hull who made their wealth and were considered natives of the Cities and invested in their communities in other generous ways and felt proud to be a Derby or a Hull local and wanted the best for their communities, they now are being made ill by being afraid to turn up to matches to receive loads of abuse. OK. ME is not a local but to keep investing with no return is not actually an act of selfishness.

Seeing Bish and Dozza looking a class act last night to me vindicates that we can produce good players given time and patience. Myles with a little perseverance is growing in experience and confidence. Flynn has shown he can excel at this or Championship level, And of course there is Woolfie who will come again, and we have the likes Baggott, Gibbs, and McGavin who could all do well and come through, without mentioning Lankester, Dobra or El Mizouni. They may still take another season or two to flourish.

The job for PC is to have a clear out of the inconsistent experienced players and get a handful of new fresh faces who he trusts and are proven and robust (no sick notes) and this club is back on the rails.

itfchorry added 19:50 - Mar 3
What do you mean - Dear Fellow Fan

You support Chelsea

leroy2488 added 19:55 - Mar 3
The whole takeover talk always stated that Paul Cook is who the other party wanted as manager.
Clearly there is something happening, but maybe with him having to move Lambert on (said too much), with us on an upward trajectory and with it being late in the season and close to the top teams again.... Maybe Evans thinks he’d rather wait a while with someone else’s choice of Paul, after all if he is a really good manager, wouldn’t it be stupid after 13 years to sell at a time , just before we could be worth much more to him.

ArnieM added 19:57 - Mar 3
Evans clearly only cares about Marcus Evans. He doesn’t give a shyte about this football Club, other than making money out of it. Got his fingers burned, now he’ll sell to the highest bidder, whoever that it is , he doesn’t care.

He’s a bigger fraud than Lambert......

Gilesy added 20:01 - Mar 3
I think Evans needs to move on but how has he been making money out of the club?!

warktheline added 20:06 - Mar 3
I don’t often agree with @arnie, but he’s absolutely spot on! Well said!

essextractorboy93 added 20:07 - Mar 3
Get out of our club. Dreadful owner who is taking this club to new lows. We can’t move on as a club until this idiot sells up. You can dress the stadium up all you want but who seriously cares? Same old crap then.

Europablue added 20:09 - Mar 3
I don't get it when people complain that Evans hasn't invested in the playing squad. He has invested a lot, but he made the crazy decision to make that investment with Paul Hurst.

DoseOfReality added 20:09 - Mar 3
And who took us to lge 1 .. sell up, get the deal done & let’s hope we never hear from you again .. which going on the last 14 years you should manage that no problem

atty added 20:11 - Mar 3
“Currently acceptable”. etc a master of ambiguity

rfretwell added 20:17 - Mar 3
Thats a carefuly worded address to our fans by ME and should be appreciated for giving us a much clearer picture of the supposed takeover as well as the improvements being made to the clubs facilities behind the scenes. ME should address the fans more regularly as lack of communication is one of the big complaints we have about his stewardship. It doesnt have to be a long, comprehensive piece like this one. A shorter message to update us on a couple of things, say, every 2 months or so would be well received i am sure.

Ipswichbusiness added 20:19 - Mar 3
I don’t like the part about debts into equity; either stylistically or anything else.

Phil1969 added 20:21 - Mar 3
Take over always was wishful thinking guys never on the cards when Marcus owed £100m.
He does a great job propping up a loss making business. His appointments have been iffy at times but no Marcus no ITFC.

istanblue added 20:26 - Mar 3
Just go! No one wants you here! No one likes you! Just fu*king go!

MVBlue added 20:27 - Mar 3
Interesting regards to the playing staff wages being at the limit of financial fair play. Not that it ever held Leicester or Derby back.

Buryblue78 added 20:45 - Mar 3
An open and honest assessment from the owner I feel
Hopefully he has finally made the right choice of manager
If PC gets it right and shows he is worth backing then it is up to ME not to make the same mistake he did years ago by not backing MM when we really needed it
I believe we've made too many average or poor signings for too long now
We have the makings of a good young Championship side here
Young players from the academy who are benefitting from the last two years experience
Ok some won't quite make it but some will and that's what most fans want to see
Add to that a little bit of quality not quantity and a manager who can get the best out of them and who knows what can be achieved....

tetchris added 20:53 - Mar 3
Look at the recent take over of Burnley by some Americans. They used the clubs own money to buy out some shareholders and have gone from £42 million in the bank and no debts to £90 million worse off and loaded with debts. Be careful what you wish for

shakytown added 20:58 - Mar 3
No matter what happens this season there is going to be a clearout of players needed if Paul
cook wants to bring in new talent.

Bluearmy_81 added 21:07 - Mar 3
There's gullible and naive and then theres Town fans on here. He must laugh his socks off!! 😂 Talks utter shi te but time and time again you lot lap it up. Anyone up for sweepstake on when it will be Cook out?!! 😂😂 Always the manager, need the landowner with the serfs...

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