Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans can ‘turn the tap on’ if it’s required

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne

Ipswich Town managing director Ian Milne - Credit: Archant

Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans will loosen the purse strings if manager Mick McCarthy thinks it’s necessary.

The latter has been limited almost exclusively to free transfers, loans and swaps deals during his two-and-a-half years in charge at Portman Road, his current first team squad constructed for just £110k.

A carefully selected group of positive personalities have proved to be worth a lot more than the sum of their parts, team spirit, hard work and master man management contributing to the recent sixth-place finish in the Championship.

The big question now is how the Blues can progress again following the club’s best season in a decade,

Managing director Ian Milne is confident that can be the case though, insisting that star players will not be sold, the club’s wage bill will remain very much competitive and that transfer funds will be made available if required.

“Okay, we don’t pay the big transfer fees, but we’re paying the wages – player and coaches overheads went up by nine per cent this season,” said Milne.

“Against that, the final number of season tickets sold – including the half season tickets – was up by 10 per cent. In 2013/14 the fees we got from TV matches was £80k, this last season we got £320k.

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“Corporate hospitality was up 13%, retail is up by 51%, while programme sales went up by 23%.

“All that goes back into the running of the club; the playing budget and the academy and everything else.

“Marcus has obviously said that if money is needed then it will be available. Marcus and Mick have already come out and said that nobody is for sale and we want to keep the squad together.

“Clearly there is one or two key players that we need to go out and get if we are going to improve again, but the key thing is that no massive overhaul is required.

“We’ve got the nucleus to build upon and it’s just about adding a few more pieces to the jigsaw.

“As we speak the funds are available. We’re not having to scrape the barrel or anything like that. We’re in a very good position to move forwards.”

New Financial Fair Play rules came into force last year with the intention of forcing clubs to start spending within their means, but the goalposts continue to move, the big-spenders continue to rally against the changes and only time will tell if there is any real teeth to the deterrents on the table.

The likes of Nottingham Forest and Blackburn have both been under transfer embargoes, though there are ways to still sign players in that scenario, while no-one has been hit by points deductions.

“I’m convinced that the financial model in the Championship, the money that owners have to put into it, is unsustainable in the long-run,” said Milne.

“The big question is are there that many prospective owners out there who are willing to come in and spend eight, nine, 10 million a year consistently on a team?

“People will say ‘well it always seems to happen’, but a few will be taking note of what’s happened to teams like Blackpool, Wigan and Millwall.

“Of course only time will tell how Financial Fair Play pans out. They’re now talking about easing it following pressure from Paris St Germain and Manchester City.

“We can’t worry too much about the short-term in that respect and just have to deal with what’s in front of us.

“It would be nice to plan three or four years ahead, like in any business, but in football that’s more difficult because the financial landscape is always changing.

“Okay, we’ve got some more money filtering down from the top now, but you’re talking one or two million and that doesn’t get you too far. For the time being it’s still reliance on the owner.”

He continued: “There’s pressure on clubs not to raise their ticket prices, but the revenue from tickets already doesn’t go anywhere near covering the first team squad overheads.

“We’re trying to keep that gap at a realistic level so that the owner can continue to put in the sort of money that he wants to put in.

“Marcus has been on the edge of what he is permitted to invest and that will continue to be the case.

“After a season like we’ve just had it’s great for an owner to think ‘yeah I’m in a place that I want to be with the cost I want to be at’.

“Mick’s shown that he can build a team within sensible limits. Having said that, if it needs more money then more money is available.

“It’s great that we haven’t had to send a fortune on transfer fees, but if it’s needed he can turn the tap on.”

Milne added: “Mick and Marcus make the decisions together. They regularly talk and discuss what they’re going to do next.

“Mick says what he thinks is needed and advises sensible valuations and then Marcus goes and tries to get the deal done.

“We just want to step up again next season and I can ensure supporters that the right resources are there to do that.”