Town Takeover Completed
Wednesday, 7th Apr 2021 11:13
Town have confirmed that owner Marcus Evans has sold the club to US-backed consortium Gamechanger 20 Ltd in a £40 million deal.
In a statement on the club site Evans outlined the details of the deal:
I have always said that, whilst not actively looking to sell, I would seriously consider an offer made to me by a credible party if it would invest in Ipswich Town in a way that provides secure long-term funding to help take our club forwards. For an offer to succeed the following boxes had to be ticked:-
An irrevocable commitment to fund not just the purchase of the football club, but also to support a long-term business plan to invest in the team, infrastructure, our fans’ experience, the academy and the club’s role in the wider community.
2) Security for the club’s employees, including a commitment to support the new manager
3) A fair treatment of the shareholders of ITFC PLC and ensuring that they are not left behind in any offer.
Following several months of detailed due diligence by both parties, to ensure this will be a ‘marriage made in heaven’, an agreement approved by the EFL was signed today and I am satisfied that the above conditions have been met.
A new company (Gamechanger 20 Ltd) has been formed specifically to purchase the club for which a very fair price has been agreed for all of my equity, and in addition a payment for property and purchasing some of the debt previously owed to the ME Group including the debts acquired at a discount by the ME Group when buying the club in 2007.
As part of the transaction, a portion of that historic debt has in effect been written off, leaving the club with a much smaller debt burden and with nearly all club debt owed to the new owners.
The new ultimate beneficial owner of the club is a US investment fund called ORG, which manage funds on behalf of a large US pension fund and will own 90 per cent of Gamechanger 20 Ltd. The ORG representative will be Ed Schwartz.
In addition to the pension fund investment in Gamechanger 20 Ltd (GC20) through ORG, there is additional investment in GC20 through the Three Lions fund. This is managed by three Americans – Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, who will jointly own five per cent of GC20.
These three individuals will, alongside the new chairman, Mike O’Leary, formerly CEO at West Brom, oversee and manage the business. I will also keep a keen watchful eye on the club and will invest in the new company, owning five per cent of it.
However, I plan to divorce myself from any day-to-day responsibilities and get back to following the Town as a highly interested, passionate and vested fan.
The exact format of the transaction means that the pension fund will be the majority owner of the company that owns the club. The remaining shares are owned by small shareholders, many of whom are supporters.
The new company is obliged to make an offer to buy the shares of Ipswich Town PLC for the same par value at which I have sold my own equity, therefore providing a potential exit for the club’s army of small shareholders.
A key factor in reaching my decision to support the investment by a pension fund is the basic principle around which any such fund needs to invest. It has to see a return on its investment, and that return in all likelihood can only be achieved by way of promotion to the Premier League.
The fund has deep pockets, but by the nature of a pension fund will be fiscally responsible in the use of those funds. In order to meet its investment responsibilities, it will need to invest to secure Premier League status, and it has already committed to making substantial investment in both the club’s playing squad and infrastructure.
I had always wanted to take the club myself to the Premier League and sadly, for too short a window, at one time this had seemed possible. However, as important to me as my ambition for the club was, if it didn’t work out I wanted to leave the club in not only a more secure financial position than the perilous state in which I found it, but with ownership that provides triple A financial backing alongside a community ethos.
I believe I have found this and I look forward to cheering the team on every week as we work our way back to where we all want to be.
As TWTD previously reported, it's understood the pension fund involved is from a US state's fire and police services.
Gamechanger 20 Ltd also issued a statement via new chairman Mke O'Leary.
He said: “We want our first remarks on completion of this takeover to be words of thanks to Marcus Evans. We have been discussing this sale with him for more than a year, and throughout the negotiations his love for the club has shone through.
“He is a true supporter and all of us at Gamechanger 20 are extremely grateful that he has chosen to put his trust in us.
“Marcus has invested considerable money, time and energy in Ipswich Town. His decision to waive much of the club’s outstanding debt is one that deserves the gratitude of every single Ipswich Town fan."
O'Leary has previous board level experience in the UK football industry with both West Brom and Oxford, and more widely with FTSE and AIM-listed organisations.
Brett Johnson said on behalf of the Three Lions: "We are humbled and excited to be investing in Ipswich Town, one of the finest clubs in the history of English football.
"We are proud of our success on and off the pitch at Phoenix Rising and are committed to restoring ITFC to its former glory. To this end, the first priority is promotion to the Championship and the management team will be given additional funds to strengthen the playing squad.
“The Three Lions have considerable experience in commerce and marketing and in the medium-term plan to increase revenue at the club, but the short-term priority has to be the playing side, and we are committed to improving that, all the way from the academy to the first team.”
As previously reported, the directors of Gamechanger 20 Ltd are O’Leary, Johnson, Schwartz, Bakay and Detmer. A UK-based CEO is set to be appointed soon.
Bristol City chief executive Mark Ashton has been strongly linked with the same role at Town 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.
News of the deal first emerged at the end of February but negotiations stalled during March and looked to be drifting. However, negotiations have continued and were concluded in the last few days with posts indicating that the takeover was done having circulated on the TWTD Forum over the weekend.
As well as his five per cent stake in Gamechanger 20 Ltd, we understand as per previous TWTD reports, that Evans, who has had 30 to 40 offers for the club during his time at Town, will keep a section of the Bent Lane training ground which is currently unused. This area, sometimes referred to as 'wasteland', has long been ear-marked for development.
Fans will welcome the changes at Portman Road with the Evans era having seen the club drop into League One for the first time since the 1950s.
Protests by independent supporters group Blue Action had become more frequent in recent weeks with Town having had another disappointing season and the Blues struggling to stay in the play-off hunt despite the recent appointment of new manager Paul Cook.
Photo: Matchday Images
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Blogs 278 bloggers
Here We Go by tractorboykent
For a club recently described as Britain’s unhappiest, it may seem odd that Town fans are suddenly awash with optimism now that the deal is done.
One of the Strongest Squads? by NormEmerges
I keep hearing that ITFC has one of the strongest squads in League One. It’s certainly true that we have one of the biggest squads, but strongest? I would assume ‘strongest’ to mean ‘includes higher quality players for this league’. What do the facts tell us?
Tractor Boy on a Mission by wadey
As some of you may be aware, we lost our little boy Tyler on 1st April 2012, aged just 15 months old. There was no cause declared and he just passed away in his sleep. Since then, I’ve tried to raise as much money for charity in memory of him.
Damned Lies and Football Statistics? by bluesman
Football is possibly the most observed sport of all time, and there is plenty of statistical information available in the public domain to make some informed observations about clubs and managers, and their performance over the years.
From Marcus's Side of the Fence by essexccc
Most of the thinking, including my own, around the possible sale of the club, has quite naturally focused on the possibilities from the club's and supporters' points of view.
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