Gamechanger, Three Lions, pension funds and new faces - a bitesize guide to the Ipswich Town takeover
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Marcus Evans has sold Ipswich Town to a group of American investors. Andy Warren breaks down the deal.
It’s a momentous day at Ipswich Town.
Marcus Evans has sold the club to American investors after more than 13 years at the helm, in a deal understood to be worth in the region of £40million.
That means a group called Gamechanger 20 Ltd are now in control of the club, though they don’t own 100% of the Blues.
They own close to 90%, with the rest belonging to Ipswich Town PLC. They are the group of shareholders who already owned stakes in the club prior to Evans’ purchase in 2007.
As of today, Mike O’Leary, part of the Gamechanger group, is the new chairman of Ipswich Town.
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Who are Gamechanger 20 Ltd?
It’s a group set up with the goal to buy Ipswich Town Football Club. It has no other business interests.
90% of the company is owned by US-based investment firm ORG Portfolio Management, with the remaining 10% split between four individuals.
Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer, who together also form part of the group who co-own US club Phoenix Rising, combine to own 5% of Gamechanger. The remaining 5% is owned by outgoing Town owner Evans, who now takes a stake in the company.
Who are the Three Lions?
This is the name used by Johnson, Bakay and Detmer to form their ownership stake in Gamechanger.
They have achieved success together already with Phoenix Rising, where they’ve become a real force in the US second tier and are moving into a new 10,000-seater stadium.
Where’s the money coming from?
While the Three Lions bring experience and vision, the vast majority of the funding is coming through ORG.
Their money is sourced as an investment from a US pension fund, thought to be the state of Arizona’s. The fund will want to see a return on their investment, with the real money coming should the Blues reach the Premier League.
ORG’s representative on the board of Gamechanger is Ed Schwartz, a founding partner from the business’s birth in 1999.
Through his company’s portfolio, he’s said to have control of assets worth more than $6.5billion.
Who is running Ipswich Town?
The Three Lions will be taking a back seat in the day-to-day running of Ipswich Town, given they are based in the United States.
It’s said they will visit ‘from time to time’, instead leaving much of the day-to-day running of the club to Mike O’Leary, who sits on the board of Gamechanger and is the new chairman of Ipswich Town.
A new chief executive will be appointed in the coming days or weeks, with that man expected to be current Bristol City CEO Mark Ashton. He’s previously worked with O’Leary at Oxford and West Brom.
What is Evans’ involvement now?
Evans now owns 5% of Gamechanger but will not be in a position to make decisions. He has said he is looking forward to continuing his association with the club, largely as a supporter.
He has also retained a small section of the club’s training ground – an unused area on the Bent Lane side which has previously been earmarked for housing.
What has happened to the debt?
Under Evans, Ipswich Town’s debt has reached the £100million mark, almost entirely owed to him.
But as part of this deal, that debt has largely been written off, with the vast majority of what’s left owed to the new owners of the club.
What happens to the PLC?
Given the nature of the deal, the new owners are required to make an offer for the shares currently held by the individuals making up Ipswich Town PLC.
It will be up to the individuals whether or not to accept them but there is a chance, albeit unlikely, that Gamechanger end up owning 100% of the club.