'We're in it for the long haul' - Co-owner Schwartz on the money behind Ipswich Town
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Ipswich Town co-owner Ed Schwartz insists the pension fund behind the recent takeover is taking a long-term view on return of investment.
Schwartz is the CEO of ORG, the US investment firm which manages funds on behalf of the Arizona Public Safety Personnel Retirement System (PSPRS), which owns 90 per cent of Gamechanger 20, the newly-formed organisation that took over Town back in April.
He flew into England this morning and was part of a panel that addressed around 120 supporters during a Fans' Forum at Portman Road tonight.
"We're committed to making this a long-term, sustainable investment that the whole community can be proud of," he said. "This is a community asset. We may represent the money that's behind this, but this great football club is an asset of the community and we all have to remember that.
"We look for investments that have unique characteristics. This particular investment and the scarcity of them in English football made it very unique. When we had an opportunity to team up with what we think is the best management team in all of football, and to be able to identify a club that has such incredible history, but which was so undervalued, it was just too good to pass up.
"We don't look at it as gambling. It's certainly risky, but all investments have some type of risk involved. But we think that the return that we expect to get out of this is more than compensating us for the risk. We look at this as a very sound investment and we couldn't be more excited about it.
"As we've got into this and uncovered things we've found more excitement and more opportunity, literally every day. I feel more confident about this investment now than I have at any time. It's pretty exciting."
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Asked if the club needed to reach the Premier League for the pension fund to receive a return on investment, Schwartz replied: "That would provide us with the highest rate of return, but we feel that there are things we can do in the current situation, in getting to the Championship, where we can make a nice return. Certainly our goal is, at some point, to get to the Premier League. But it's one step at a time.
"We're just excited to provide a really exciting product today, really quickly and just continue to build from there.
"An investment like this is going to take many, many years. We're in it for the long haul. That's our objective, that's our goal. The pension fund that we represent is a long-term investor and we're taking a very long-term approach to this.
"I hesitate to put an absolute timeframe, but it's at least seven to 10 years that we've talked about. In year three or four if we see things going a certain way we may re-evaluate that and extend it. But certainly it's a long time. It's not a few years."
He added: "Many people invest in football clubs and sports franchises as a toy or ego investment. That is one way to do it - people have fun. We're not taking that approach though. We're taking a very pragmatic return on investment approach.
"I would say to the supporters that where the money comes from is a good thing because we need to build long-term, sustainable success. We don't want to just get promoted and then say 'oh, we need to cut the budgets or we get relegated again'. We don't want that situation. We want to get promoted, stay there and be in a position to take the next step.
"We really care about what we're building here. If and when we ever sell this, we'd want to sell to someone that would continue the legacy that we plan to build. We don't want to just get to the Premier League and have somebody tear it down.
"Boy that would be a lovely problem to have though! We're a pretty long way out from that at the moment."
He added: "Pensions investing in sports franchises is not that common, but I think it may become more common. We'll see. When you think about it, it is a suitable investment for a pension fund because it's a long-term asset. Many sports franchises have increased in value quite a bit if run correctly.
"The interesting difference in the UK is if they are not run well and don't perform well then you can lose a lot of value very quickly by getting relegated, which is different to the US.
"Our view is that we've bought, at a lower value, an asset that has potential and history. Ipswich really was the perfect scenario for us."