Evans era - progress, what progress?

VALUE for money? No way!

VALUE for money? No way!

Tomorrow, it will be exactly three years since a little-known multi-millionaire, by the name of Marcus Evans, became the new owner of Ipswich Town FC.

Who was this Mr Evans, and why Ipswich?

All this was of little concern to most supporters, who had suffered the lean times, including the ignominy of the club going into administration just four years earlier in 2003.

To them, Mr Evans was the knight in shining armour – regardless of the fact that no one actually knew what he looked like – a shrewd businessman and a big player in the corporate hospitality industry, who was going to wipe out Town’s debts and propel them back into the promised land of the Premier League.

Well, three years on and it hasn’t quite worked out like that. In fact, it hasn’t followed the script at all.

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True, Mr Evans did take over the club’s �32million of debt, on his appointment to the hot-seat at an Emergency General Meeting staged at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on Monday, December 17, 2007.

A huge 98.9% of shareholders voted in favour of the deal, and Mr Evans has since ploughed at least �16m – and perhaps nearer to �20m depending on undisclosed fees and add-on clauses – into the purchase of players alone.

But the results have been disappointing, and at times distressing.

Neither Jim Magilton nor Roy Keane has managed to get Town close to promotion, or even the play-offs, during these last three years.Results have been erratic; performances have been inconsistent; league positions have been, at times, alarming; entertainment has been in short supply; too many new players have flopped; and now attendances are dropping.

Furthermore, after these last three years we still don’t have a better understanding of Mr Evans as a man, or as a personality.

He has remained in the background. In fact, at times he has not even been in the background!

With the exception of the occasional glimpse of Mr Evans at Town games – he does attend most fixtures – the reclusive owner has remained invisible and silent, albeit passing on the odd message via the club’s chief executive, Simon Clegg.

Of course Mr Evans’ invisibility is irrelevant, in terms of the successes or failures of the club as a whole.

He doesn’t give interviews, but I lay a wager that he has been under-whelmed by his first three years at the helm.

The one saving grace is the high-profile nature of his current boss, Roy Keane, who is rarely out of the media spotlight. The Irishman alone gives Ipswich Town, and the Marcus Evans Group in particular, huge publicity, the sort of media attention that is usually just reserved for Premier League clubs.

But it is to the Premier League that Mr Evans presumably wants to take his club.

And the truth is that Town are no nearer winning promotion now, than they were just before Christmas in 2007.

If anything, they are further away.

A dreadful run of six straight league defeats, the worst run since George Burley’s men suffered eight on the bounce in their relegation season from the Premier League in 1995, has left Town closer to League One than the Premier League.

Before Saturday’s tea-time fixture at home to Sven Goran Eriksson’s Leicester City, a match to be screened live on Sky Sports, Town find themselves a mere three points off the relegation zone, and a daunting nine points adrift of the magical top six.

It all adds up to one telling conclusion – Mr Evans has spent a vast amount of money, over these last three long years, for precious little return.

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