'There is no offer on the table... this is completely separate' - O'Neill on Town takeover reports and manager search
- Credit: Steve Waller
Lee O’Neill has stressed ‘there is no offer on the table’ for Ipswich Town Football Club and that a search for a new manager is in no way influenced by reports of a change of ownership.
The Blues parted company with Paul Lambert on Sunday evening amid continued reports of a takeover involving a consortium from the United States, involving board members for U.S. second –tier club Phoenix Rising, with a figure of £17.5m suggested.
O’Neill, the club’s general manager, insisted the hunt for a new boss is being led by Marcus Evans while stressing the owner is not actively looking to sell a club he first bought in 2007.
It’s understood former Wigan boss Paul Cook is close to being appointed by the Blues.
“There’s been a lot of speculation but Marcus’s stance hasn’t changed,” O’Neill said.
“He’s not actively looking to sell the football club but, as he’s always said, if there was an offer on the table from anyone who was interested in taking the football club over and they were going to provide significant investment going forward then he would always look at that.
“His stance hasn’t changed and that’s where we’re at with it. At the moment the conversations aren’t there, there isn’t an offer on the table, but he will always look at an offer if it is on the table.”
Asked again whether there is an offer to buy the club, from the United States or elsewhere, he replied: “No.”
O’Neill was then asked whether he was confident Evans would still be at the helm come the end of the campaign: “I am confident,” he replied.
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“He’s as driven as ever. I’ve spoken to him a few times over the last few days and he wants to get the football club back to where it should be. We all know that’s going to be a difficult job over the next three or four months in particular but it isn’t unachievable when you look at the squad and how the games are coming thick and fast.
“He’s focussed and he’s ambitious to get the club promoted this season.”
Speaking after Saturday’s victory over Doncaster, Lambert repeatedly said there was a ‘99% chance’ he would leave if the club was taken over, but O’Neill again stressed the future of the club and the change of manager are not linked in any way.
“This is a completely separate decision,” O’Neill said.
“I heard Paul’s comments on that and that’s how he feels about the situation. The speculation is driven externally by the media. I’m stating from the club’s point of view is that Marcus is, at the moment, the person driving the club forward and that he is not actively looking to sell. However, he would be open to that if it was right for the football club.
“It’s a coincidence. This situation is not new and hasn’t happened overnight. There has been issues there that the manager has been unhappy with for a few months.
“There is never a good time to change manager and it’s coincidental that the rumours around ownership (have come at this time).
“Our priority right now is to try and get the right appointment for Ipswich Town Football Club right now.”