Owner Marcus Evans determination to see the job through is admirable, given the fact that life in Division One will be a serious financial challenge. He has come in for a fair bit of stick over the years and sometimes for good reason but what is beyond doubt is his dedication to the cause and Paul Lambert is ticking many of the boxes of his five-point plan.
Evans’ investment in the Ipswich academy costs him around 2 million pounds a year, and as Ipswich Town football club contemplate life in the third tier of English football for the first time since 1957 is it sustainable? Attendances will undoubtedly fall further next season, and this will obviously impact on our spending power and Town have a very sizable squad and backroom staff, which will have to be tailored to meet the needs of our new environment.
Town’s academy is still classed in Category One – having missed out narrowly by just 0.3% to achieve Category One status back in 2014 and with so many big Premier clubs stiffing around for young talent, dropping down a league will not help his long term objectives.
The Ipswich Under 23 and Under 18 teams have performed admirably this season but how many of them will still be at the club when the new season begins next August? For the Blues and Marcus Evans, this is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. He has been quite successful in reducing those obnoxious agents fees but this can be disadvantageous when more than one club is after the same player.
Evans maintains his belief that it is important to entertain the fans with the brand of football Town play, and certainly, under Paul Lambert, this has indeed been the case – even if results have not been quite so rewarding. Evans will stick with Lambert for now because he shares similar aspirations for the club and has the supporters onside. Lambert is determined to change things too, and that means not over-burdening the club with too many loan deals and to give players worthy of contracts extensions to their current deals.
Getting players through the academy and into the first time has been one of Evans five objectives that have actually reached fruition. It has been a delight to see so many youngsters coming through the ranks and embracing first team football and the Town manager is clearly focused on bringing through yet more.
Evans ten year reign at the club has left us with a mixed bag of emotions but he is still there and seemingly as dedicated as ever to succeed. He will no know that owning a football club has many trials and tribulations and no matter how much sits on his bank account, it will not guarantee success. This is a business and one thing that Evans is not used to is failure. That perhaps more than anything else is the reason he is still here. His steely determination is his ultimate strength and that old adage that when the going gets tough the tough get going, might just apply to the owner himself!
F.W. – editor of Vital Ipswich