Ipswich Town finances 2017/18: Continuing theme as wage bill increases, gate receipts fall and the debt hits £95m

Ipswich Town's �95.5m debt is owed exclusively to owner Marcus Evans. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town's �95.5m debt is owed exclusively to owner Marcus Evans. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town have released their accounts for the 2017/18 financial year ahead of the club’s PLC AGM at Portman Road tonight.

Marcus Evans acquired �32m worth of debt when buying the club in December 2007. Photo: Pagepix

Marcus Evans acquired �32m worth of debt when buying the club in December 2007. Photo: Pagepix - Credit: Warren Page

In what is a continuation of general themes during Marcus Evans’ decade-plus ownership, the wage bill has risen, gate receipts fallen and the debt – owed exclusively to 87.5% majority shareholder Evans – increased.

The Blues made a pre-tax loss of £5.2m for the year ending June 30, 2018, compared to a £4.3m loss the year before.

On average, Evans had posted a pre-tax loss of £6.6m a year during his 11 years of ownership.

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Evans acquired debts of £32m when buying the club in December 2007 and that figure has now reached £95.5m. It could very well break the £100m mark this time next year.

Speaking last year, Town’s finance director Mark Andrews explained: “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.”

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Town’s wage bill rose from £17.8m to £18.5m, while gate receipts fell from £5.1m to £4.7m.

Season ticket sales dropped by almost 2,000 for the second year in a row (12,022 down to 10,144), though there was only a slight drop in average league attendances (16,271 compared to 16,980).

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The Blues made a net profit of £2.7m on player transfers for a period which saw the signings of Emyr Huws, Martyn Waghorn and Joe Garner and the sales of Kieffer Moore (January 8) and Adam Webster (June 28).

That backs up former manager Mick McCarthy’s claim, towards the end of his reign, that Huws was signed for around £250k rather than the £1m which the press were led to believe at the time.

Next year’s figures will take into account the majority of business completed by manager Paul Hurst this summer, which included the sales of Waghorn and Garner, as well as purchasing the likes of Kayden Jackson, Jon Nolan, Toto Nsiala, Gwion Edwards, Ellis Harrison and Janoi Donacien (a predicted profit of just under £500k).

They will also include the £1m fee received from Manchester City for academy youngster Ben Knight and a £400k windfall from FIFA for the involvement of Bartosz Bialkowski and Jonas Knudsen at the World Cup.

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In a letter to the club’s shareholders, PLC chairman Roger Finbow said: “It is perhaps an understatement to say that 2018 has been a challenging one for the club.

“We said goodbye to two managers: Mick McCarthy worked tirelessly over six seasons to achieve success for the club and I would like to place on record the board’s gratitude for the bonhomie he engendered and the results he produced.

“But sometimes change is a good thing, and there was widespread buy-in to Marcus Evans’ plan to recruit a young, modern, ambitious manager to drive the club forward. Unfortunately Paul Hurst was unable to produce the results that he and all of us hoped for; we wish him well in his future.”

Managing director Ian Milne and manager Paul Lambert are due to speak at tonight’s PLC AGM, in the Sir Bobby Robson Suite at Portman Road, with the evening starting at 7.30pm. Log on for live coverage of the meeting.