Brett Johnson on his Ipswich Town ambitions and Mike O'Leary on debt situation

Brett Johnson held a press conference last night after Gamechanger 20 Ltd's takeover of Ipswich Town

Brett Johnson is one of Ipswich Town's new owners. Photo: Archant - Credit: PA

Brett Johnson, one of Ipswich Town's new American owners, says the plan is to 'put the club back on its rightful pedestal'.

Johnson, along with partners Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, has been behind the success story of rebranded American club Phoenix Rising over the past five years.

Those three have now linked up with former West Brom director Mike O'Leary to buy out long-term Blues owner Marcus Evans with 'significant' funds from the Arizona State pension fund. 

"This is not an ego play for me," insisted Johnson, who wore his new Ipswich Town cap and scarf proudly during last night's virtual press conference.

"I know this is not for the faint hearted and we have not entered into this lightly. 

MORE: Who are Ipswich Town's new American owners? - Profiles of the men involved in today's takeover

"I'm invested in this to succeed. I bring partners in to succeed. And success to me means winning. 

"The ultimate place to be when it comes to football is England, so this is a dream for me. I come here with complete reverence and humility and hope to make everyone proud."

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Johnson thanked supporters for their 'exceptional response' to the takeover news and said he was 'excited for any opportunity to engage with fans'.

He added: "We want to put the club back on its rightful pedestal. The Championship is absolutely our goal, but I don't know anyone who invests in English football who doesn't have the aspiration to get to the Premier League.

"I don't want to be shy in saying that we want to put a winning team on the pitch as soon as possible." 

MORE: Gamechanger, Three Lions, pension funds and new faces - a bitesize guide to the Ipswich Town takeover

O'Leary, who is the club's new chairman, says the Gamechanger 20 Ltd group is currently in the process of appointing a 'top quality' CEO who will be the driving force of the club on a day-to-day basis.

He revealed that talks with Evans first started 14 months ago and that this has been 'one of the most intricate and complex' takeovers he's ever been involved in, with negotiations having initially centered around bringing added investment rather than a complete acquisition.

"We have repaid approximately £21m of debt and Marcus has waived the majority of all the other debts (which had exceeded £100m)," said O'Leary.

MORE: Updates as Brett Johnson and Mike O'Leary give first press conference after Ipswich Town takeover

"There's a tiny bit left of debt left, £400k, that remains between Ipswich Town PLC and Ipswich Town Ltd. That's the only debt that remains. Apart from that the club is debt free."

Asked if there was an initial amount of capital the group would be putting into the club, O'Leary said: "Other than saying it's substantial I'm not sure we want to say much more really. We don't want to hamper our negotiation ability to buy players!"

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