The Evans era dawns for Ipswich Town

A NEW dawn arrives for Ipswich Town next week when the club enters the unknown.The January transfer window represents a phase for the Blues which will be uncharted territory for its new owner Marcus Evans, his recently formed football board and manager Jim Magilton.

By Derek Davis

A NEW dawn arrives for Ipswich Town next week when the club enters the unknown.

The January transfer window represents a phase for the Blues which will be uncharted territory for its new owner Marcus Evans, his recently formed football board and manager Jim Magilton.

Town supporters will look on eagerly, and with some trepidation, but mostly with great expectation that the investment and restructure of the club's finances will bring with it a bounty that leads to promotion.

By the time the transfer window opens on Tuesday, Ipswich could be back in the top six ready for the strengthening that will consolidate at least a play-off place come May.

Much will depend on Magilton buying the right players but much will also depend on the three directors, Martin Pitcher, Ian Milne and Jonathan Symonds representing Evans, leaving these footballing decisions to the old guard of chairman David Sheepshanks, chief executive Derek Bowden and non-executive director Kevin Beeston.

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It would seem logical that at first the people from Marcus Evans will leave well alone and see how the club operates, at least until the end of this season.

But the reality is the Town trio that are known entities have no real power any more. Quite simply Sheepshanks, Bowden and Beeston, will dance to the tune Evans plays because he is now the piper.

If the Evans people decide to ignore their advice and dance in another direction, then they will.

The way the new board is made up is that one of Evans's protectors has the casting vote, thought to be Pitcher, and if, for example, Town get an offer of £1m for Jon Walters and the Town trio don't want to sell but the Evans people do, then he will be sold.

Of course there would be an outcry from the public - but so what? Evans is not answerable to anyone and the trio who carry out his wishes are by their own admission not football people, and have no affinity with the club.

The likelihood is Magilton will dip into the market and buy two, possibly three, players and while he has been able to spend before he has not had this sort of spending power.

Every deal will be scrutinised by the board and no doubt backing given but again, if the Evans people don't understand why he wants to pay so much for a certain player, then they can pull the plug.

As accountants and solicitors it will be interesting to see how flexible they will be in running a football club compared to a successful multi-million pound company - even if a fair bit of its income is derived from sporting events.

Magilton's concern will be that the player(s) he brings in don't disrupt the dressing room to a damaging effect as he witnessed when the club went mad after one heady season of success in the Premiership.

There has been talk of Lauren Robert being a possibility but the warning bells have been sounded by many who remember how the arrival of Matteo Sereni, Finidi George and Amir Karic caused disharmony and financial ruin.

Robert, at 32, with a flair player's temperament and inability to protect the full-back, even though he can deliver a left-footed cross with precision, is probably not one that will be signed.

Graham Gartland, on the other hand, could be just the right sort of player. At 24 he is the right age. He is hungry for success in this country after his spell at Barnsley came at the wrong time and he is highly regarded as a centre-half with bite and ability.

David Norris, the Plymouth midfielder, remains the No. 1 target, Rob Jones is still being touted about by his backers, while Dele Adebola's performance for Coventry tomorrow will come under close scrutiny.

It is vital for Magilton that he gets these decisions right.

Not because the money is burning a hole in his pocket but because his very future as manager could depend on it.

He won't use the whole £12m that the board have said is available because he will need to keep some in reserve. Not all will be spent on transfer fees either, as wages also have to come out of the new budget.

Selling or off-loading players will give him a bit more leeway but Magilton knows this will be good experience for the days if he gets into the Premiership where he will be entering a different sphere altogether.

It promises to be an interesting few weeks.

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