Having suffered disappointment after disappointment in recent years, it is no surprise that Ipswich Town fans are getting their hopes up following news from The Athletic that a US consortium is “on the verge” of a takeover.
US Investors ‘on Verge’ of Ipswich Town Takeover
Blues Fans Hopeful That New Investment Can Lead to Greener Pastures
In the 14 years that Marcus Evans has owned the club, the Blues have had plenty of ups and downs. A series of steady performances led to then manager Mick McCarthy guiding the Tractor Boys to a sixth-place finish, their only play-offs campaign since 2009, but defeat was inflicted by bitter rivals Norwich City.
Even more heartbreaking, however, was the Blues’ relegation from the second tier – a division they had competed in for 17 years prior to their eventual drop. Last season, their first in League One, started well and the Tractor Boys were well and truly among the fight for promotion. A dramatic decline in form, however, saw the Blues collapse down the table before coronavirus curtailed the season – the controversial points-per-game method saw Town finish the campaign in a disappointing 11th.
This season the struggles have continued with Paul Lambert‘s job role coming under more criticism and scrutiny in recent weeks. Growing pressure from supporters resulted in the local paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, calling for the former Aston Villa boss to be sacked; then, earlier in February, a group of supporters protested at the training ground.
Whilst Lambert did have a positive beginning with Ipswich – reuniting a largely polarised supporters’ base and integrating legends back into the club’s community – recent months have seen that deteriorate. It seems that he will not be given a saving grace by the arrival of news investors, with the Athletic claiming he would be replaced by Paul Cook, the former Tranmere Rovers and Wigan Athletic boss.
Whilst a statement to the EADT opposed the rumours, the Athletic are far from known to publish something that is simply a rumour – suggesting there is certainly something credible behind their report. Since taking over in 2007, Marcus Evans has used more than £100 million of his own money to boost the club’s coffers. He has never publically put the club up for sale, but has also hinted that he would be willing to part ways should the right offer come forward.
He admitted in December that in “all but one of the last 13 years” the Blues had run at a loss. He added that he “would step aside for an owner who would be prepared to spend more money on Ipswich so long as they are fully committed financially over a period of time to take the Club up the league tables.”
Brett Johnson, the man reportedly leading the interest in Town, is the founder of a sports investment fund and private equity fund. He is also a minority stakeholder in Arizona United and has links with Danish side Helsingor and Turkish team Galatasaray.
Large clubs in the third division have become something of an attractive proposition in recent months and years. The fee reported to be paid to Marcus Evans is only slightly more than that which Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is understood to have paid for Sunderland; it is also likely to be similar to that of what was paid for Hull City by the Allam family.
Whilst a deal is far from wrapped up, and could well take several months to do so, the news is certainly a glimmer of hope for Ipswich Town supporters.