Evans completes Ipswich Town takeover

BUSINESSMAN Marcus Evans' takeover of Ipswich Town Football Club is complete this morning.More than 400 shareholders unanimously were in favour of the deal, which will see Mr Evans own 87.

BUSINESSMAN Marcus Evans' takeover of Ipswich Town Football Club is complete this morning.

More than 400 shareholders unanimously were in favour of the deal, which will see Mr Evans own 87.5% of the club's shares.

A total of 98.9% of those who voted, either in person or by proxy, gave the takeover the green light, while 0.2% were against the deal and 0.9% withheld.

The decision was taken at an extraordinary general meeting, held last night at Ipswich Corn Exchange.

Around 420 interested parties turned out for the discussion, which was overwhelmingly positive and in favour of the move.

Opening the meeting chairman David Sheepshanks said: “This is no doubt an historic occasion and whilst not wishing to pre-empt the outcome it will most likely mark the end of an era, which is always sad. However, it will also herald the dawn of a new age with all the anticipation that accompanies it.”

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Mr Sheepshanks said the board had negotiated a deal that they felt was in the best of interests of the club, its shareholders and its fans.

While he said there could be no cast iron guarantees he was confident Mr Evans was investing in Ipswich Town for the long haul.

“If the club is successful then Marcus Evans is successful,” Mr Sheepshanks said.

“His interests are very much aligned to those of the club. He wants his ownership of Ipswich Town to be in the Premiership and he will invest to accelerate our prospects of getting there. However, he is realistic and knows that it may take more than this season or even the next.

“Everything he has said and done so far demonstrates that he is in it for the long haul.”

The takeover of the club by Mr Evans is seen by the club board as completing Town's financial recovery from the depths of administration in 2003.

Mr Evans, who has made his millions in the corporate hospitality industry, will wipe out the club's £32million debt, and will also inject £12m into the running of the Portman Road club.

It remains to be seen exactly how much of that £12m will be available to manager Jim Magilton for his playing budget, and how many years the money will be expected to last.

However, it is known that Magilton is expecting to launch into the market when the transfer window opens in January, with perhaps two purchases to help Town's bid to return to the Premier League.

The Evans deal was confirmed after months of speculation about a possible Town takeover. Chairman David Sheepshanks had long made it known that the club would be available for the right person. There had been rumours that Birmingham City chairman David Sullivan would make an offer, but Marcus Evans' name was a surprise when it was revealed.

Mr Evans is known to have had links with Suffolk as a child - there is speculation that he lived in Bury St Edmunds for a short while - but little is known about him personally.

He has never given an interview, and there are no photographs available of him to the media. He did not attend last night's meeting, but it is believed that he might attend the club's AGM next month.

A tax exile, he has homes in the Bahamas and London. It is not known whether he has attended a game at Portman Road, although there are suggestions that he will in the future.

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