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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

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casanovacrow added 21:08 - Mar 3
Is it me or does every statement seem passive aggressive?

RobsonWark added 21:11 - Mar 3
I blame our downfall on Roy Keane for selling Jordan Rhodes cheaply back in 2009 for £850,000!!

have_a_word_with_him added 21:21 - Mar 3
"me or the club". Who constitutes "the club" exactly Mr Evans?

SickParrot added 21:37 - Mar 3
I have no difficulty accepting that he's not actively seeking to sell at the moment, because of our market value as a League 1 club, but if we did get back to the Championship I think he would be looking to sell. Whilst I believe that he would then prefer to sell to a buyer who is committed to a long term tenure, I don't believe that he would refuse to sell if the highest or only bidder intended to fund a quick promotion to the Premier League and then sell at a big profit.

Please note that he didn't deny that he was aware of the American Consortium. His statement would still allow a sale to them if their original interest was more than 12 months ago and the price hasn't yet been agreed.

TractorRoyNo1 added 21:38 - Mar 3
Clever - a drop of cold water might get him an extra million

madmouse1959 added 21:39 - Mar 3
13 years of poor ownership and out comes the yearly statement to woo the fans back..

Evans has to judge the long term commitment of possible investors with no personal roots in the community.

That,s good coming from a mostly anonymous Marcus Evans whose nearest home is in Cornwall. If Evans thinks that the appointment of Paul Cook has been well received he should consider the amount of elation that will be evident when he gets out of this club.

blueconscience added 21:43 - Mar 3
Sadly a few brainwashed fools will love Evans just for releasing another “Statement”

Northstandveteran added 21:50 - Mar 3
Has anyone heard the rumour that Cook is ready to walk already having fallen out with Evans about going back on his promise to have Liam Richardson as his assistant?

Just been forwarded it from an f.b post?

Bluearmy_81 added 21:50 - Mar 3
Theyre truly special BC. He must piss himself laughing

62WasBest added 21:57 - Mar 3
Budgie Plucker - Did you ever taste Tolly Cobbold's beer? Where was the alcohol!

On the matter in hand. I'd rather see Cook have a shot at things under Evans than an American consortium taking over.

TractorBeezer added 21:58 - Mar 3
In my opinion a sincere up date from our owner. Thank you ME.
13 years ago following administration ME was the ONLY owner that Sheepshanks could find. And he was not seeking to recoup the debt.
Bringing in a high profile Roy Keane displayed serious ambition. This turned out to be an expensive gamble that misfired but ME tried.
Let's get behind him again now.

DerryfromBury added 22:05 - Mar 3
HM Land Registry search would be part of any potential buyers due diligence. Its no more than that.

reva added 22:05 - Mar 3
lets be pleased that PL has moved on and lets get behind our new boss and give him every encouragement - a happy club and happy players will breed success.
ME isn't everyone's favourite - we get that loud and clear on this thread - but at least we know what we have in these very insecure days - remember we are in a pandemic - no income coming through the gates - governed by EFL restrictions on wages - and we have a very large squad to pay (hopefully PC will reduce the hangers on)
Lets get behind bot PC and ME and see this club back where it belongs!!

DerryfromBury added 22:10 - Mar 3
Better the Devil you know.

blueboy1981 added 22:12 - Mar 3
What more can anyone with a brain cell, and any appreciation of reality expect from Marcus Evans - these are tough times for any Football Club - and time to appreciate the fact we have a reasonably wealthy Owner capable of absorbing losses unprecedented in the game.
Our main let down has been incompetent Managers who have found Evans too easy to manage for, equally so players who in turn have found the Club too easy to play for .... !!!
Paul Cook, I suspect, will not expect or allow that to happen.
Let’s view the future with renewed optimism.
Onward and Upwards.
Come on you Blues.

BangaloreBlues added 22:13 - Mar 3
A very good and honest statement from Marcus.
There is nothing else to be said, and certainly not guessed at.
Now, forget this take over talk and let's get behind the club and focus on promotion.
And - YES - we can get automatic promotion this season.
Looking at the stats yesterday, of all the matches left, we have to play the most games against teams with the lowest average points per game.
In other words, we are playing a lot more teams in the bottom half of the table than everyone else above us, and this will give us a great chance to win lots of matches between now and the end of the season.
If we keep this run up, we genuinely can get into the top two and, if promoted, hopefully that will silence a few of Marcus' critics.
We are on a good run of results now and, despite a couple of tough games coming up, the last two months of the season involve many, if not all, of the teams right at the bottom. And, the team has finally shown that we can beat anyone. The confidence will be there, and with the new manager I strongly believe a top two finish is even more likely than play off place.
Now, let's get behind the club!

Robson1978 added 22:25 - Mar 3
This is coming from an owner who said he will take his time in appointing a new manager,less than 48 hours cook is appointed. While evans is still at our club any manager appointed will struggle, it will come to a point when no manager will want to come here

Gilesy added 22:37 - Mar 3
Evans said he’d take as long as he needed to appoint. He clearly didn’t need very long. His statement makes a takeover less likely in my kind but still eminently possible.

KernewekBlue added 22:56 - Mar 3
Seen and heard it all before from this gentleman... and look where we've ended up!

Granted, we are living in unprecedented times which makes running any business venture difficult at best, impossible at worst, however, we'd been suffering from this footballing decay for years before this pandemic came along.

I really hope all things come together this time and Paul Cook proves to be the one who saves us from total obscurity but my optimism will always be tinged by a large helping of wariness and trepidation wherever and whenever Marcus Evans is involved.

It is obvious that he has kissed the Blarney Stone at some point in the past and his words can charm some of the birds from the trees time after time but personally, I find it difficult to believe most of what he says based on past experience. Once bitten, twice shy!

I apologise if this all sounds a bit negative, just after we've won three games on the bounce and got a new manager to freshen up a promotion push. I really, really, REALLY hope I'm wrong this time.

The club will always have my full and unequivocal backing but the owner needs to do more to prove his heart is in it, not just come up with rose-tinted statements from time to time.

To Paul Cook I say this, I wish you all the very best in your time as Ipswich Town manager and I hope that you get whatever backing you need, as has been promised by the current owner in his statement above, to see the job through to a glorious conclusion.


ringwoodblue added 22:56 - Mar 3
Current priority is to keep the winning run going and get promotion this year.

If a takeover doesn’t happen right now, I think it will in the not too distant future rather and I’m happy to wait for the right buyer rather than any Chuck, Cody and Duane.

londontractorboy57 added 23:03 - Mar 3
Another disappointment for the numbskulls i did warn you not to get overexcited !!!

aharris4 added 23:06 - Mar 3
I havnt been to games regularly for quite a few seasons now, so i am just an armchair supporter i guess.
But is it me, or is it every time Marcus Evans releases a statement he does such a good job of reassuring everyone? Whether he just always knows what to say or not, i feel like he talks sense and makes many accurate points.
I guess its just a shame that the fans arent as close to him as we were with Sheepshanks. Perhaps if he could be a bit more present it may just keep fans on side more?
Time and time again we do see clubs spiral out of control after a takeover and a huge investment. Its not always the answer. There are many examples of this throughout the leagues above and below where “big clubs” have had to suffer and endure rough times. But with a stable and well run ownership they do tend to bounce back.

I hope for the club and all you guys that fork out so much money to follow our beloved club, we can return to somewhat better times under Evans’ ownership and his plan can be seen through with success.

Lambert done such a great job of connecting us all back with the club and spoke about so many great ideas which Evans has mentioned in this statement. Such a shame it didnt work out.

Anyway, coyb.


Gcon added 23:15 - Mar 3
He sends an e-mail and now we're all happy?
This man has driven this club into the ground. He has taken this club lower in his 14 yr tenure than its ever been before, but bosh off an e-mail and now everything's fine and dandy?
FFS people.

DaGremloid added 23:22 - Mar 3
Bluearmy 81
A lot of us think you talk shyte. We just don't moan about it as often as you do ME.

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 23:34 - Mar 3
Arnie - seriously?? You may not like ME and that's fine but to claim hes only in it to make money !!
Are you for real . He's lost millions!!

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