Read: Transcript of Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans’ first-ever video interview
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has given his first-ever video interview. Here’s what he had to say....
MARCUS ON: Mick’s time at club
“Mick brought a stability and consistency to the playing squad which definitely was missing when he took over.
The first three seasons provided the environment which enabled our success.
That’s continued. Today we’ve got a great togetherness within the dressing room. That’s a testament to Mick’s judgement on who he brought to the club.
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It’s to do with leadership, day in, day out which kept a happy dressing room. That was kept whether players were in the team or not in the team – those man-management skills are certainly something I’ll be looking for in his replacement.”
MARCUS ON: A new deal for Mick?
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“Look, it was so obvious by the time Mick and I sat down a few weeks ago, it was 100% clear to both of us, his role had run its course. He had done a great job ever since he came in and leaves the club in a stronger place than when he joined it.
“It was so clear the time was right for a new person to take up the challenge, that didn’t come into discussion at all.”
MARCUS ON: Blueprint for new boss
“It’s a big challenge, a big issue for me today to find the right person.
I think before I talk about that process, it’s more important to think where we are today as a club compared to six years ago.
What we needed six years ago from a manager is quite different to what we need today. Round holes and round pegs come to mind.
Step back to when Mick joined us. The academy wasn’t really delivering the talent into the first-team which is part of our overall plan. Scouting was very inconsistent, it wasn’t delivering players we needed to build the team capable of building any consistent performance.
Even the backroom areas, such as sports science, was at best fledgling at the time. Six years ago we were entering a new era of parachute payments, so that meant we needed somebody who could wheel and deal in market place and a manager who could at that time get to grips in all of those areas.
I think the club is in far better place. For example since we brought Bryan Klug back to the club, we have established ourselves with an excellent academy, probably one of the highest regarded academies outside of say the long-termers in the Premier League.
That playing style and philosophy that Bryan and his team have developed has enabled us to bring players through to the first-team where they get hardened pretty quick to the realities of the Championship.
So the new manager is going to be able to rely on a developing pool of home-grown talent that wasn’t really with us certainly six years ago.
From the scouting side our network has developed. We have consistently been able to identify developing talent. Look recently at Barry Cotter, on the other hand, experienced affordable talent, such as Emyr (Hughes), Joe Garner, Martyn Waghorn last year.
We continue to sign excellent loan signings, Tom Lawrence last season, more recently Bersant Celina, Callum Connolly, Cameron Carter-Vickers.
We have identified emerging talent like Grant Ward and Adam Webster
The whole scouting network is very different and so much better a structure Mick took over a few years ago.
Sports science has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. We have made a huge investment at academy level and development squad level in sports science and a change of manager is going to be able to bring a reorganisation of sports science.
So, as it has historically been a department that has looked after individual squads, we are now going to be able to deploy across the whole squad.
The new manager, rather than being expected to have to bring in their own teams or use their experience in these areas, in short can rely upon working with the club’s existing support teams, let them know their needs and rely on them to deliver support needed in their area of specialisation.
So the manager is left free to work on playing style, the coaching required to support that style, tactics, as well as man-management.
Football has moved on over last few years and while many management attributes are the same today as they were in past, there’s also a lot of new things managers should be undertaking and we want to be progressive and want to look for a manager who embraces the best of the old and new.
I’m looking for a manager who ticks these boxes. I’m not going to prejudge a manager, they could be young, they could be older, they could be experienced at winning promotion to the Premier League or not, but overall I want someone who buys into the club’s plans, based on the five-point plan I announced a while ago. I feel it brings Ipswich the best opportunity for promotion.
It includes bringing players through the academy, developing a team playing to play attractive and exciting football and achieving this within a competitive wage budget, which is going to be below many of the parachute clubs in our division. It’s going to take some time.
I expect to make an appointment towards the end of May, or early June.”
MARCUS ON: Style of football
“I’m going to be looking for a manager to coach and develop a team capable of playing from the back where possible. But they have got to have ability to understand and cope with the physical challenges of the Championship.
I’m not a football manager, it’s not my job, clearly in any business you have to adapt to what’s put in front of you.
So this manager is going to have to work within the club’s structure, bring players through the academy while identifying transfers available within our budget.
First and foremost, we want something where the team is capable of playing in an attractive way.
It’s worth remembering the Championship is a different prospect today compared to the league that the club was in when I invested 10 years ago.
The promotion challenge now to get into the Premier League, even to stay in the Championship, requires a very different approach.
I’m up for that challenge as much as I was the first day I was involved in 2007.
But the manager is going to have a reality check as far as his situation and his approach is concerned and that reality is no different to Huddersfield last year, us in 2015 when we reached the play-offs, or Millwall this year.
So, the reality of the league is something they have to face up to, and have to bring winning, attractive football to the club.
Top of the list is winning games, but equally playing entertaining football is an important part of their job and we want to ensure that runs from the academy to the first team.
The Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world and I’ve watched many Championship games, not all involving Ipswich. A lot of those games, even those among the top sides, I wouldn’t describe as beautiful football every time.
So our own playing style when so many teams have little between them, is determined by who we are playing against, how they set up, our injury situation at the time – and entertainment has got to be high on the agenda for a new manager.
But they have to a plan B and Plan C if necessary and got to know how to grind out results if needed.”
MARCUS ON: Deadline for new appointment
“A couple of important factors as well in the decision not being rushed, a lot is going to be happening at the end of season. Management changes are going to take place at the end of season. We want to see what those changes are. Thee may be others that come onto the list that currently aren’t on the list.
From the football side our plans for pre-season are already in place. That’s not affected by taking time to reach the right decision. End of May, beginning of June feels right.”
MARCUS ON: New manager. His biggest decision ever?
“Well, all have been very big decisions.
The last manager decision we made we were in a terrible state, bottom of the league, in serious danger of relegation, so that was pretty important at the time and I think a good decision was made.
This one is just as important and a different type of manager is needed, it’s a different situation this time. But they are all equally as important because they all provide us with the opportunity if the right decision is made to take us where we all want to go.”
MARCUS ON: Backroom staff
“I think that’s been one of the important developments over the last few years at he club, the backroom team has developed so well it’s going to be an area where the new manager is going to rely upon heavily.
I keep harping back to my five-point plan, the point of stability is so key within a club and the backroom team is doing a great job, and I see that as being the case going forwards and looking to continue to develop that team and keep that team in place and expect the new manager to work with that team.”
MARCUS ON: Out of contract players
“There are a few players, not that many, but a few we need to make imminent decisions on.
The senior football staff will make decisions on that and they will be able to let me know what they think. And then if it’s appropriate for negotiations to take place to renew contracts or do whatever we need to do then they will take place. They don’t need to wait for the new manager to be in place.”
MARCUS ON: Investment!
“I’ve had lots of conversations with managers over the years. They all think they are very reasonable with their requests!
I’m going give the same answer to the new manager as I have all the managers in terms of being up front and honest with budgets available going forwards.
The transparent relations I’ve had with managers has meant all the managers we have since I have been involved respect the relationship they have with me and the club and you haven’t heard too many of those managers after they have left the club say bad things about the club.
So, I will continue to give the manager all the support I can within the sort of budgets I’ve made available over the last few years.
But let’s look at the squad that we’ve got. It is competitive, it is a good mix of youth and experience. There are players to come back from injury. Once we get everyone fit, make a few select additions, I think we can be in the mix next year.
It is worth noting that spend on the squad in terms of transfer fees and wages has been increasing each year. It all comes out of one pot. Players wages cant’ be ignored.”
MARCUS ON: Putting millions in
“My kids are very keen fans of the club, that question is put to me around the breakfast table. Not just from fans. I’m acutely aware of that. Everyone would like me to spend more.
The reality is that nine clubs this year got parachute payments, it gives them about a £90m advantage on us.
Clubs like Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, are spending tens of millions in recent years and they are still in the Championship.
Even without my investment revenue, if you look at revenues from gate receipts and retail, Ipswich are in the middle of the Championship in revenue we generate in those areas.
So when you look at it, our revenues are fairly average compared to other Championship clubs.
Other Championship clubs have parachute money, we are probably more reliant on investment from the owner than many other clubs. It’s getting harder and harder to compete financially from when I bought the club.
There is only so much I’m prepared to commit each year. But as I promised when I bought the club I invest each year and continue to do so and focus on paying competitive wages as part of that five-point plan.
Others this year have proved it can be done without the biggest of budgets. Milwall, Preston, Brentford.
We finished sixth and seventh following this strategy, so I think there is an opportunity we can get out of this league with the strategy we are following and investment I’m putting in.”
MARCUS ON: Spending money
“I spent alot of money the first few years and got nowhere. I’ve still spent quite a lot the last few years and for two or three of those seasons we were very competitive but not necessarily spending in the same way as did early on
I’m not going to match what other clubs that have parachute payments, but I believe with the five-point plan we have a strategy that can take us to where we want to be.
I accept it is a massive challenge.”
MARCUS ON: Falling attendances
“When I raised the season ticket prices last year that was clearly a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that.
The reason behind it was that we needed more revenue to compete. We still need more revenue to compete.
But that clearly wasn’t the way to do it, that’s why I dropped the prices 10% this year and have gone to other sources of revenue.
But bringing the season ticket prices down on its own is not going to bring back the fans. Simple to say, difficult to do, but we need to win football matches and provide great entertainment and the fans will come back.”
MARCUS ON: Would you do it all again?
“I love this club, I’m proud to be given a chance to run it. Of course I’m disappointed we haven’t been promoted. But that’s football, the great thing about football, there’s always next season.”
MARCUS ON: Selling the club
“Already my annual investment in Town I think gives us a great opportunity to challenge for promotion. I feel it makes us competitive. Everything I’m doing gives us that opportunity to get promoted.
We’ve got to spend wisely on transfers, competitive on wages bring the young players through the academy.
But if I didn’t feel we had a chance then yes it would be time for me to move on.
I have no desire to sell. I think the plan I have in place has a chance for success and I want to be here to carry out that plan. But money is always going to make a difference.
More money in this league would give us a better chance, particularly if spent wisely.
Particularly if someone came alone who could do a better job, had the personal and financial credentials to do a better job, I’d always do what was right for the club.
I’m in the fortunate personal position where I don’t have to recoup the investment that I’ve made in the club.
So, I suppose yes if the right person came along, offered a better prospect for the club, it would be wrong to for me to stand in their way. I’d have to look at that very seriously.”
MARCUS ON: Tax rumours
“I suppose everybody thinks there must some method to my madness in terms of the spending. Unfortunately that’s not the case.
That’s not ever been part of the strategy. If I look at it from a business prospective, the plan was always clear, get promoted and make a profit. As far as a tax loss is concerned, as with any business, a loss can be offset against profits elsewhere in a group.
From a financial prospective in the scheme of things that means very little.”
MARCUS ON: The debt. Isn’t that owed to you?
“Yes exactly. I’ve invested each season.
I promised certain amount of investment to the people that were running the club before I bought it. I’ve stuck to that commitment, most years I’ve spent more than I said I would spend. And I’ll continue to do that.
Yes, it only increases the debut to me.”
MARCUS ON: Facing the cameras
“I didn’t get involved in football to make my opinions on football known.
I always thought it really important that my being involved in the club is not about me but about the football side of the club. Managers do the talking.
Over this season I think the circumstances have become different and it has become clear to me the fans really want to know where their club is going.
I felt the time was right now for to have this interview.”
MARCUS ON: Going forward
“The fans make Ipswich Town what it is and it’s my responsibility - and everyone else at the club - to make sure Ipswich Town is at the heart of the community.
The disenchantment that has built up over the last two seasons, which is built on years of frustration, is something I am really determined to turn around.
It’s going to be a new era with a new manager. We are going to try something different. It’s going to be calculated but it’s going to be different.
Let’s hope it works. Let’s hope it brings a greater togetherness for the fans.
I know from all the players that when the fans are onside and we are all pulling in the same direction, that can be the difference to us getting where we want to be.”