Ipswich Town debt rises to £89m, but Marcus Evans could spend in January

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of Marcus Evans taking over Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller

Next week marks the 10th anniversary of Marcus Evans taking over Ipswich Town. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town finance director Mark Andrews insists owner Marcus Evans remains ‘in it for the long haul’ after the latest set of accounts were revealed at last night’s PLC AGM, adding there could well be money for transfers in January.

The Blues made a pre-tax loss of £4.3m for the year ending June 30, 2017 – a figure that would have almost doubled had it not been for the £4m brought in from the sales of Daryl Murphy (Newcastle, £3m), 16-year-old Charlie Brown (Chelsea, £500k) and top-up fees from previous deals.

Next Monday marks the 10th anniversary of Evans’ takeover. The acquired debt – owed exclusively to 87.5% majority shareholder Evans – has risen from £32m to £89.26m in that time. On average, Town have made a loss of £6.75m every financial year since Evans’ arrival.

“He’s come to the conclusion that’s the sort of money that he needs to invest each year to keep us competitive,” said Andrews. “Marcus continues to put money into the club and is still in it for the long haul.

“It’s a question of maintaining a decent enough squad without going too silly. We rely on (manager) Mick (McCarthy) and (director of football) Dave Bowman identifying players they can improve without us having to break the bank.

“You’ve got to live within certain constraints. Brighton went hell for leather and spent a lot of money, it worked for them (promoted to the Premier League last season), but there are no guarantees with that approach.

“Marcus knows that having given Roy Keane a lot of money. Spending big doesn’t always bring success and there are plenty of examples of that in our division.”

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The 16/17 accounts show that gate receipts fell from £6.5m to £5.1m due to the fact that season ticket sales dipped from 14,017 to 12,022 – double the decrease widely reported at the time – while average league attendances dropped from 18,959 to 16,980.

On the latest set of accounts, Andrew explained: “We knew we had additional money coming in from the league in terms of solidarity payments (up from £5.35m to £7.77m, including TV and radio fees) and a lot of that was reinvested in the squad as you can see from the increased wage bill (up from £16.57m to £17.78m).

“Although it was not the best of seasons on the field (16th place finish), we did try to keep a decent squad together.

“We obviously sold Daryl Murphy early in the season and that helped to pay towards the extra costs incurred.”

On the debt, he added: “It’s all external debt owed to Marcus. If he ever decided to sell the club then it would come down to what Marcus agrees it’s worth. As I say though, he’s still in it for the long haul.

“If we keep performing how we are this season then we might have a chance of getting into the play-offs again.

“If in January we are still there or there abouts then it could be that some additional players come into the squad at that point. Then we’ll take another view on where we are at towards the end of the season.”

In the period which has followed these latest set of accounts, Town have paid transfer fees for Emyr Huws (Cardiff, reported £1m), Joe Garner (Rangers, reported £750k) and Martyn Waghorn (Rangers, reported £250k), while the likes of Christophe Berra, Jonathan Douglas and Brett Pitman have all departed.

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