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'I want to personally apologise to you... as owner I have to take overall responsibility' - Evans' letter to fans following relegation

PUBLISHED: 12:06 14 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:39 14 April 2019

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has apologised to fans following the club's relegation to League One. Photo: Laura Macleod

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has apologised to fans following the club's relegation to League One. Photo: Laura Macleod

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Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has apologised to supporters following the club's relegation to League One.

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans watches on with general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town owner Marcus Evans watches on with general manager of football operations Lee O'Neill. Photo: Steve Waller

Following 62 years in English football’s top two divisions and 17 successive seasons in the Championship, the Blues’ drop into the third-tier was confirmed by a 1-1 home draw with Birmingham City yesterday.

Town are set to announce season ticket prices for the 2019/20 campaign this week, with Evans’ accompanying letter published online today.

“Before I talk about the future, which I truly am positive about, I want to personally apologise to you for the position the club finds itself in at the moment,” said Evans, who took over the club in December 2007.

MORE: Stuart Watson’s Sunday Verdict – A post-mortem of Ipswich Town’s disastrous 2018/19 campaign after relegation is confirmed with four games left

Cole Skuse applauds the fans after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve WallerCole Skuse applauds the fans after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve Waller

“We tried something different at the start of the season. For one reason or another it didn’t work, and you will have your own views as to what went wrong, but clearly mistakes have been made and, as owner, I have to take overall responsibility for that.

“Now my responsibility is to take this great club forwards again. Paul Lambert, as our manager, is obviously a key part of that plan and whilst results on the pitch have not been as we would have hoped for, performances and entertainment levels have vastly improved.

“Most importantly the manager has had time to work with the players, most of whom will be the core of next year’s team, and we have recently been competitive with the best teams in the Championship.

MORE: Praise for ‘special support’, but also some caustic comments – How Ipswich Town’s relegation was covered nationally

Ipswich Town supporters singing after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town supporters singing after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve Waller

“As our young team develops and improves, this foundation has to be encouraging to all of us as a positive indication that we are now going in the right direction. We will quite rightly expect this team to carry on with this competiveness in the lower league next season.

“These players, who are still learning the game at the highest levels, all need a significant run of matches to consolidate their position in the first-team and whilst there is a place for one or two loans and players who can bring vital experience in the latter stages of their careers, the majority of the squad need to be younger players who will be improving week by week.

MORE: The Fuller Flavour: A sense of relief and the scenes at the end were no surprise

“Where we don’t have talent in the building that is ready for developing in a particular position and it’s clear that we need to invest to improve we will do so but we will not bring in anyone who blocks our own players’ development and we will ensure we give our young homegrown players a run of games. They will make mistakes, but as long as they learn from those mistakes we will have a team that gets better and better.

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert acknowledges the fans. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town boss Paul Lambert acknowledges the fans. Photo: Steve Waller

“We need players on the pitch who are the future of Ipswich for the next five or six years, not just for one or two seasons, whose development our coaches can influence and who are on the upward curve of their playing career.

“Much of this was the plan for last summer however it didn’t work out the way we planned. In Paul Lambert and his team, we have a group of excellent coaches who are completely invested in the strategy.

MORE: North Stander: Will lessons now be learned by Evans and his colleagues?

“I cannot doubt the loyal support you have shown the club through thick and thin but now we need everyone’s support and togetherness more than ever.

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans insists the club is 'not in crisis'. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town owner Marcus Evans insists the club is 'not in crisis'. Photo: Steve Waller

“We are playing the attractive, entertaining football that I think you want to see. I certainly do. I have seen the players applauded off in many games this season, even after defeat, so I think that shows you are appreciating the way Paul is getting the team to play. Of course, it’s about winning football matches though and that is something that we have to put right.

“Paul, our general manager of football operations, Lee O’Neill, and myself have had numerous meetings over the last four or five months to discuss the future direction of the club.

“We are all united in the strong belief that our young players need to be given a pathway into the first-team and a chance to establish themselves at that level, not just a few games here or there but over a period of time.

MORE: Stu says: Five observations after Ipswich Town’s relegation to League One is confirmed by Birmingham draw

Ipswich Town skipper Luke Chambers reflects on relegation. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town skipper Luke Chambers reflects on relegation. Photo: Steve Waller

“Developing and nurturing our own players and giving them first-team opportunities are at the core of our focus going forward. They will need patience but it’s the way forward for Ipswich Town.

“I want you to witness the excitement of a team developing week-in, week-out and see this turning this into a winning formula.

“We will still retain that balance of experienced players around them of course. Players like Bart Bialkowski, Alan Judge, Luke Chambers and Cole Skuse will provide that guidance for our young players to progress.

“As stated earlier it’s not our intention to bring in loan players in any numbers. We may have one or two but the plan is to provide that pathway for our young players, rather than use the loan market.

Ipswich Town fans have backed their team to the hilt during the worst season in the club's history. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town fans have backed their team to the hilt during the worst season in the club's history. Photo: Steve Waller

MORE: Lambert on ‘gut-wrenching’ relegation and why he believes Ipswich Town will come back stronger

“I have become much more hands-on at the club since the turn of the year and that will continue. I’m not going to hide from the fact that these are challenging times at the club but sometimes out of adversity you become stronger. That is our aim.

“I am also putting plans in place to take Ipswich Town deeper into the local community, working closer than ever before with schools, charities and local organisations. There will be more on that over the coming weeks.

“I know Paul has been amazed and humbled as well by the backing he, personally, and the team have received from you the fans and he is determined to repay that support in the years ahead.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert and his assistant Stuart Taylor in reflective mood after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve WallerIpswich Town manager Paul Lambert and his assistant Stuart Taylor in reflective mood after relegation is confirmed. Photo: Steve Waller

“With Paul as our manager, we have the right man to take us forward. I will provide all the support I can to him but we need your continued fantastic support as well.

“It seems strange to say this but we are not a club in crisis. We are once again already developing our community roots; we are financially stable; we have a proven management team intent on doing things going forwards in the Ipswich way and whilst the foundations have already been laid to move onwards and upwards THE REAL FIGHTBACK STARTS NOW to get back into the Championship and then on from there.”

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