Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne says it’s now up to manager Mick McCarthy to ‘make it work’

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne believes Blues fans need to be ‘realistic’ about owner Marcus Evans’ budget and says the onus is now on manager Mick McCarthy and his ‘very good squad’ to ‘make it work’.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Photo: Steve Waller

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy. Photo: Steve Waller - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

The man who acts as Evans’ public voice, along with the club’s finance director, Mark Andrews, fielded questions on Mark Murphy’s ‘Life’s a Pitch’ show on BBC Radio Suffolk ahead of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Reading at Portman Road.

Here are a few highlights:

Why was there no multi-million pound signing in January?

Milne: “Mick (McCarthy) and Marcus (Evans) have gone out and looked for players, there was a list of players. It was quite well known that we were after (Jordan) Hugill (Preston) and that we got priced out of that particular battle. There were two or three others they went after, but the prices were really just too high.

“Nevertheless we’ve ended up with seven signings, on top of the nine we had last summer, so we’ve expanded the changing room because I don’t think is enough room in there for all of them now! We’ve got some experienced and junior players in who we have great hopes for.

“The board has backed Mick McCarthy.

“I do understand the frustrations. We did try to replace Daryl Murphy with a bigger name signing, but there is a budget of how much the owner is prepared to spend.”

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Andrews: “We did spend some money in the summer on Grant Ward and (Adam) Webster. In the transfer window that has just ended we did bring seven players in, two from non-league sides. You have to take into account the wages and the wage bill for those seven players adds another million pounds onto the playing budget for this year.

“It’s not all about transfer fees, it’s about the overall cost to the playing budget.”

IM: “It is a big gamble signing players from non-league, but I think it’s well-respected that Kieffer Moore was one of the good things we saw in the Derby match. He was clearly giving their defence trouble. They were pulling him down and fouling him. We have got some great hopes for him. Yes, he’s not going to replace Murphy tomorrow, but we’re rebuilding the squad and that’s where we’ve got to go.”

Why is Marcus Evans not spending more? Ipswich are going to get left behind in terms of what other Championship clubs are spending.

IM: “He is putting that six or seven million in a year. You’ve seen the loss he’s made over the 10 year period. Like everybody, he’s got a budget. We all have so much cash in our back pocket for spending money – that’s the same for any billionaire. We have a budget of what we are prepared to spend.

“He’s done some big shopping which has increased the salary bill and we’ve got to understand that’s the budget. That doesn’t mean we don’t have promotion hopes and all the rest of it.

“We’ve got to rebuild the squad and reduce those Murphys and McGoldricks and what have you for the future. People have got to understand that now.

“Marcus has put down that five-point plan. That’s still very much in play.

“The ticket revenue is six-and-a-half million. Our player salary bill now is 12 million. Somebody has to foot the bill between the two and that’s before you start spending on new players.

“Of course we want to push on. I think most people think, on paper, that should be a good squad and should be up in the top six or close to it. If we have to rebuild then so be it. Clearly there is not the money to spend 10, 15 million on a striker that may or may not work.

“Fans are expecting Marcus to spend two or three times more than he currently is. We have to be realistic.

“I’ve been told there are some owners who won’t be investing the amount they have been after a one-year go at it. Marcus had a three-year go at it, longer than that. There may be an opportunity for him to go for it again.

“They really did try to get some players in, I’m not just saying that, but they were out-bid or just weren’t accepted. Preston just wouldn’t let Hugill go for anything.”

Is Marcus Evans aware of the supporters’ apathy?

IM: “If we’re not producing the entertainment then people won’t come, it’s like films or anything else. Marcus is very aware of that.

“He’s very disappointed with the entertainment value and is very aware the affect that has on attendances. We are working at trying to be better value for money.”

How much of a concern is it that Mick McCarthy has said he will consider his position this summer?

IM: “I know that he’s been down recently – that’s no secret. He’s said that he will review his position in the summer with Marcus.

“Marcus has backed him – these are the players he’s chosen, it’s his squad. It’s nobody elses’ squad, it’s not Marcus’ squad. He takes the advice from Mick McCarthy and Dave Bowman (director of football).”

Will yourself and Evans consider your positions?

IM: “No. We’re here. Marcus has always said he’s here for the long-term and he’s put his five-point plan down. He’s putting a lot of money into the academy and there are players coming through.

How worried are you about falling attendances? It’s clear many seaosn ticket holders are simply not turning up.

IM: “Of course we are concerned and so is Marcus. We know the entertainment value is not great and we hope it improves.

“A pricing structure is under review at the moment. Off the filed we are doing everything we possibly can.

What’s your message to disenchanted supporters?

IM: “Please, please, please keep supporting us. We will turn it around, that’s a promise, we’ve got to turn it around.

“This has probably been the toughest time for Marcus since he’s owned the club. He’s fully behind the club though, as am I and my colleagues.

“On paper it’s a very good squad, a huge squad, and we’ll be looking to the players and manager to make it work for us.

“We expect to turn the corner. Look at that squad. There is no reason why that squad can’t improve. We expect them to improve.”