The fans know it. His kids know it. The football world knows it. Owner Marcus Evans miserly approach to running Ipswich Town football club has cost us dear.
Now I know that some of you are becoming increasingly frustrated with the way manager Paul Lambert is running the show but if we are brutally honest, he is just a cog in the wheel of a much bigger machine, that has been malfunctioning ever since Marcus Evans bought the club.
In fairness, we were all grateful when the man who originates from Walsham le Willows near Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk, took on the 32 million debt, incurred by spending above our means. The official announcement was curiously vague about the terms of the deal, but various unsourced media reports suggested that he paid between 20 pence and 100 pence in the pound, and then injected somewhere in the region of £12 million into the club in exchange for an issue of new shares. This effectively gave him an 87.5% stake and reduced the existing shareholder’s stake to just 12.5%.
But this was only the beginning of his wheeling and dealing. Since then the debt has more than doubled and yet Ipswich Town pays Marcus Evans around 5.4% interest on the debt which is set to increase again when the next set of annual accounts are released. Has he been good for Town or has Ipswich Town football club been good for Marcus Evans?
He currently has a net worth of 730 million pounds. Only a smidgeon of this has been ploughed back into the club and yet his ‘plaything’ is a good thing for overseas investments and generous tax breaks. We know he gave both Paul Jewell and Roy Keane some serious spending power but when he failed to realise his immediate Premier League dream, he suddenly turned the financial transfer tap off.
Most of all, however, the thing that grates with me is Evans’s inability to learn from his mistakes. From hiring an athletics guru in Simon Clegg as his chief Executive to not releasing the cash to replace Daryl Murphy, there has been a catalogue of damaging errors since he took over the club, that has gone a long way to engineering our sad demise.
Some would say giving manager Paul Lambert a new five-year contract for abstract failure is another insane move, but this is where I disagree. Lambert has done a lot to change the mindset of this club and he will continue to do so if he remains at the helm. Yes, results have faltered but even the defeat yesterday to Blackpool does not prevent us from sneaking into the play-off’s at the last hurdle and if we do, then momentum will be with us.
Another trip to Wembley is not beyond the realms of possibility, and giving the manager space to breath, might just work in our favour in the long term. I am a strong believer in giving a manager time and that is why Sir Bobby Robson, all those years since went on to put this club firmly on the map.
So not everything Marcus Evans has done has been decidedly bad but his poor judgement, again and again, is the principal reason why we are where we are.
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich