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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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brendenward35 added 15:52 - Aug 7
He mentions ploughing money into the academy but in a previous article moans about clubs from the premier league coming in and taking these kids for stupid money, so I'm puzzled as to why put money into something to benefit other clubs? But at least his being honest and I believe what he says about not pocketing the money that others have accused him of doing. Hope we can bounce back up for everyone's sake.
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RocketDog89 added 16:02 - Aug 7
I am on Marcus side with a lot of what was said, yes we need to stick by lambert through thick and thin. There will be many league one clubs who would love lambert at there club.

As for going forward we have a fantastic support and let's make as much noise for this team as we can we all have blue blood and let's show that when the players get on that pitch.

As regards to Marcus saying two/three signings that's great let's just get the right players instead of dead wood Mccarthy brought.

In lambert we belive as a tracer boy for life I will never stop believing COYB
1

Carberry added 16:06 - Aug 7
He's the wrong man, in the wrong place at the wrong time.
0

KernewekBlue added 16:16 - Aug 7
How easy it is to talk the talk, Marcus, when giving yourself a good deal of wriggle room to not actually walk the walk... yet again. Year on year the same old drivel comes out to appease the deep unrest within the fan base at the sure and steady decline of our club.

If... IF... he actually means what he says and that 3 new additions are being sought to shore up the squad, then, as Head of Player Recruitment and Chief Contract Negotiator, he has some really urgent work to do.

I hope I'm wrong but, judging by recent seasons and the blurb that was trotted out then to get the fans back on board with him, I remain sceptical.

I DO understand that running a football club isn't financially or contractually as simple as "identify the players, sign the players, pay the players"... the infrastructure of the club, the material properties of the club and all the other staff attract a cost too... I appreciate that, but citing the loss of £9 Million in revenue due to relegation, as a factor for not strengthening the playing staff in order to facilitate a challenge in this division, is tantamount to a declaration of his own failings over the last few seasons and the culmination of a woeful lack of investment. No-one wants to pay good money to go and see their beloved club get their arses whipped every week by playing the complete dross served up by Evans & McCarthy for years on end. The fans ebbed away from paying to watch the footballing equivalent of a sleeping draught. No ambition = complete apathy!

It is all very well listing the myriad ways in which he "supports" the club financially... a buzzword he chose to remind us of often in his lyrical prose... but without a team capable of challenging to win games to give us a chance of promotion, we will be going nowhere fast... stagnating, while we have to watch teams around us flourish.

And, by the way, has it not been said, more than once, that any money he "invests" in the club boosts the amount of debt owed by the club... to Marcus Evans? If that is the case then he is not "investing" anything at all... he's simply making us a long list of loan payments, which he'll want repaid at some point down the line?

Is anyone in a position to clarify that beyond doubt???

I know some on here will savour every syllable of that column piece, swallowing every line he dishes out, but I am of the opinion that believing every word that comes out of his mouth or from the nib of his pen, is a surefire way to very soon becoming disappointed by it's lack of accuracy and real intent.

I don't expect anyone to agree with me, it is purely my opinion, based on previous observation, to which I am entitled.

I await, with bated breath, the announcement of our 3 new permanent signings!

I remain full of support for Paul Lambert and all the honest, hardworking lads that pull the shirt on every week.

COYB!
2

ITFC_95 added 16:19 - Aug 7
Fair play Evans. Largely agree with all of that
6

Saxonblue74 added 16:27 - Aug 7
Rabbit, you beat me to it with a response to Midastouch! Yes, great times but high risk and at what long term cost if it fails? I could make many political comparisons but that's probably a can of worms that should never be opened!
So, ME has now published his thoughts and plans for the future. I wait with bated breath for a statement from those who feel he should go. Very interested to hear that plan for our future...........?
0

Phil1969 added 16:40 - Aug 7
Good on you ME personally that’s all I want some communication on the realities of Football outside of the Premiership. It’s laughable some on her calling for him to go. It’s like sacking your mortgage company and expecting to keep the house when they own it!
4

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 16:47 - Aug 7
Bluebarmy81- as I some others said the other day , we agreed with PL telling M.E. to be more transparent. He has done so , and by reading the replies it would seem that 99% think it's reasonable. So are you calling him a liar ? What exactly in that statement do you disagree with ?
Also if you don't believe him ask yourself why a bloke worth over 900 million would be trying to syphon off 2 or 3 million from ITFC. As others have said the accounts are public record .
3

dirtydingusmagee added 16:49 - Aug 7
so there you have it .All cards laid out on table. Now lets see what happens with the players needed,.And hope we can keep Paul Lambert on board. He himself needs to come up with results this season, He wont want to be seen as failing in Lge 1, AND WONT STOP AROUND if things start going pear shaped.Hard times ahead . COYB.
2

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 16:55 - Aug 7
When Evans talks I think he talks a lot of sense . Unfortunately he doesn't do it often enough. Hopefully he will from now on.
It isn't lack of ambition to compare us with Bolton either. They are a similar size club who were in the PL more recently than us and now look at them .
He has come out with an explanation as asked , how about we just get behind him and the team .
4

Dozzells_Bobblehat added 17:01 - Aug 7
Blue041273- couldn't put it better myself
1

carlo88 added 17:11 - Aug 7
i.e Keep your trap shut Lambert and do the job you're paid for.
-3

Bluearmy_81 added 17:29 - Aug 7
Bobble, what I'm saying is what he says and what happens are usually 2 different things. Will we see 3 quality additions in the next month? I'd put my house on no. Why so many continually believe everything he says when the past teaches us to be underwhelmed and disappointed mysifies me.
0

jas0999 added 17:33 - Aug 7
It’s a good open honest assessment of the situation and to be fair no surprise. He’s quite right not to blame Lambert as he has been dealt a very poor hand.

The one piece to the puzzle which is missing however, is the reason we are in this mess and playing League One football. Evans.
3

ipswich4life added 17:43 - Aug 7
10 more years of scraping 5h1t from a barrel,evans has killed the club.
0

IpswichT62OldBoy added 17:50 - Aug 7
It seems like a reasonable assessment by someone prepared to admit they are learning the football side of the business.
We have kept Norwood and if we do sign 2 or 3 players then we have further evidence of improvement.
He seems to be listening to Lambert about football and took his advice to tell the supporters what his plans are.
I agree, actions do speak louder than words, lets see what happens, I am hopeful.
1

WashbrookBlue added 18:23 - Aug 7
Like a minority of others on here, I find it astonishing how accepting most are of yet another carefully crafted piece of spin from an owner who has presided over the most disastrous ten years in our history. Honest? Truthful? What evidence does anyone have for either of those statements. We have been presented with a carefully managed image of our financial situation that suits his position. I am always astonished at how he writes as if his approach has been a virtue and that, Lord knows, where would we be without him. Even in the post administration era where we could only afford Darren Currie , we remained a competitive championship club. Most understand the commercial realities of a failing business despite his patronising remarks but let’s be clear about who is accountable for such failure. This man has no interest in football or vision for this club other than limiting the drain on cash to his wider business interests and finding some other nut job to pass it on to. I accept that we have no alternative but to hope that somehow the miserable tide under his sole ownership and disastrous judgement can be reversed but please, spare us all this gratitude crap and remember that this man and this man alone has made all the judgements and decisions that have put us in the lowest position for two generations. Like others on here, I wait with baited breath for him somehow giving the manager more than two fit strikers to work with and coming up with a centre half from a source other than league two out of contract cast offs. History will not be generous on this mans stewardship of the club and nor should we be, whatever happens this season.
1

whosroundisitanyway added 18:30 - Aug 7
Bluearny81 & Gcon
Your response other than down arrows is?????????
-1

budgieplucker added 18:37 - Aug 7
The fact that Marcus is no longer faceless is a good thing.

FFP equivalent for League 1, sounds more stringent but if you follow article by Andy Warren in EADT this gives some sense that many players are excluded if they are young players or on long term contracts signed before a certain date, Huws and Skuse fall in to this category.

By and large we could do a lot worse for an owner, and I am prepared to give ME the benefit of the doubt on a number of things. Yes it is sensible to exercise a certain amount of rigour when managing the finances.

The crux for me is that ME largely “loans” the club money and doesn’t donate the money. There is a very important distinction here for FFP. At any point a negative balance on the formula of wage percentage On turnover can be rectified by the owner topping up the income by a donation which will be treated as revenue, which a loan will not be.

Buying debt is a business in its own right nowadays and ME paid approx. 6 million to be able to show a debt of 36 million to his group owed by ITFC. His annual input of 6 million over 10 years has increased this debt to around the 90 million mark.

I suspect this debt has to be serviced by ITFC and some form of interest is paid back to provide credible book keeping albeit interests rates have been very low and hopefully ME will have shown some generousity in his accounting here.

Yes technically the money is owed to the Marcus Evans Group and is unlikely ever fully recoverable, and he could liquidate the company should he wish to do so - which hopefully is very unlikely or would offer the club up at a very cheap rate.

Now I would expect any successful businessman to employ a top team of accountants to maximise or minimise the position of each party whichever way you look at. For this I am not making any criticism of the ME Group and yes Marcus is probably the main benefactor in share ownership of ME Group so essentially you can be excused for saying it is his money.

The point I am getting to made by several on here is not that ME is necessary a bad Stewart of club and I have already said by and large I think he has been a good Owner, BUT his passion, ambition and desire if he really has some is strangled by his instinct to be a ruthless deal maker, always trying to hold out on protracted transfer negotiations to shave another 100k of a deal here and there.

Passionate owners are truly prepared to throw a bit more at it. The debt will continue to rise but that’s Ok we are often told - is it really?. A solid donation however now and again to kickstart and back a new manager is not something I believe is out of ME’s reach, and won’t add to the debt. Like many Ipswich fans I don’t particularly want to see us throw 10 million or even lower amounts of ridiculous money at it, but enough for a very good player or two at this level is not too much to ask.

Ellis Harrison scored two for Portsmouth against Birmingham last night in the funny named cup and Darryl Murphy could be going to Doncaster. I still think if James Norwood gets injured then without another proven quality striker our season could well be kicked into touch.

Just showing a strong ambition to be a very good Championship Club again is enough for me to progress us forward again. ME surprisingly made reference in an earlier interview this year that the loss in TV revenue would be largely mitigated by the clauses in contracts to reduce wages by around 50%, I thought this was an overly honest admission but seems he is backtracking a bit on this. In essence ME is doing what he probably does well in running his businesses, but it seems he is content in being in one of the top ten teams in League one (in terms of financial backing).

This for me is not good enough for a strong brand as Ipswich Town albeit this has been somewhat diluted in recent years. If a club like Barnsley can set out there stall to and achieve an immediate return then I expect a club Of the stature of Ipswich Town to be able to do so.
0

runningout added 18:38 - Aug 7
We need extra strong characters on and off the pitch at our club. That includes us as supporters! Get rid of naivety as there are hardships ahead. Got to be ruthless game on game, not powder puff!
-2

TimmyH added 18:52 - Aug 7
Well he's just saying what we generally already knew but not sure about the extra he puts in from his 'own pocket' (strangely worded) and he admits the failings of last seasons quality players being let go, and we all know that was to cut deficits as he does most seasons that is by and large why we find where we are currently. Mr Evans doesn't allude to at all 'the try something new' disastrous plan of last summer.
1

midastouch added 18:55 - Aug 7
@ Saxonblue74, nobody is asking Evans to sign Messi! Simply to back the manager (within reason) when targets are identified. It wasn't ideal Skuse playing CB in the 2nd half on Saturday for example. We got away with it but it did prove Lambert's point. Clearly Lambert's feels like he's been sold a bit short by Evans given his public statements on the eve of the season and since. Evans has previous such as when he didn't back McCarthy in the transfer window back in January 2015.
Evans has said he'll make some money for Lambert available so he can get 3 more in. We know things haven't gone to plan on the transfer front so far as Lambert said for weeks that he wanted to get business done early (and this was widely met with positive feedback in the comments section on here and in the forum) and yet that failed to materialise. Be interesting to see who we get in (should we see some more arrivals before the transfer window closes) and what sort of calibre they are. Let's not forget that when Lambert was asked directly if what he's been given to work with by Marcus is enough to get us out of this league he candidly responded, "No it's not, absolutely not." And this contradicts what Marcus Evans said himself, quote: "With Paul as our manager, we have the right man to take us forward. I will provide all the support I can to him..."
I actually think we have a decent team for this level but we do need to strengthen in a couple of key areas to give us the best chance of going up at the first time of asking as the long you get cut adrift the harder it becomes. A little bit of extra money spent now might save us years of heartache.
As posted earlier, this excellent piece https://www.twtd.co.uk/blogs/21782/: makes it clear there is plenty of wiggle room for Marcus to give Paul the helping hand he needs to give us the best chance of getting over the line. SCMP caps player salaries at 60 per cent in League One, 75 per cent in a relegated side's first season. So we have a bit more wiggle room than nearly all our rivals. Sport is often settled by small margins. An extra 1% or 2% can very often be the difference between success or failure.
We were spending £1 million on signing players over a quarter of a century ago (Steve Sedgley in June 1994). Football has moved on a long way since then and it seems we're getting left further and further behind. Of course we don't want to endanger the club by going bonkers but if we play it extra safe forever more we'll be cut adrift for a very long time. I'm sure Lambert wasn't asking Evans to sign anybody outside of the parameters of what Evans could sustain. He has admitted he dropped some clangers in us getting relegated. As such it would be nice to see more tangible action (by way of transfers that would add to the squad) to try and right some of the wrongs. He apologised for our relegation and said he takes personal responsibility and maybe I misread that as I felt that was him saying he'd go the extra mile to try and put things right. When Norwich went down to League One they signed 12 players. I know that was before the days of SCMP but it feels like they really pushed the boat out to get back at the first time of asking (and it paid off with 2 successive promotions), that's the difference between showing some measured ambition or playing it too cautiously. Let's be honest, if Evans continues to play it too safe and thus Lamberts grows increasingly frustrated, he might well end up walking. Hopefully it doesn't come to that but I wouldn't put it past him if he feels Evans isn't living up to what he was promised when he took the job.

And I'm not having a dig at you (or Rabbit either). Just putting my points across. I respect your views, it's good we have debate on here as it keeps it colourful and engaging. We all ultimately want what's best for Town. We might have different opinions on the best way forwards but ultimately if we get promoted this season we can all share in the joy regardless. COYB!!!
3

SheptonMalletBlue added 18:59 - Aug 7
Glad to hear the stadium is going to be cleaned and painted!!😀
3

Felstow1978 added 19:06 - Aug 7
Presumably Saint Marcus is going to provide gazzer1999 with a free supply of Portman Mouth Wash to clean his brown tongue
-1

Jack_hughes2 added 19:08 - Aug 7
Can't argue with that. Sadly it makes sense from a business sense. Nobody wants the club to do a bolton/coventry.

The football fan at heart will always scream out for transfer funds, but in reality, football is a business and businesses must be run with sensible decision makers, not those that throw money about for fun. It's a high risk strategy to splash the cash and not get promoted. Having said that, i hope we do it this year ofherwise a lot of the aforementioned talent will soon disappear to bigger clubs
2


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