Now it's a derby of haves and have-nots

CHRIS LAKEY Ipswich fans are gloating today after the club's debts were wiped out in one fell swoop following a multi-million-pound takeover.


Ipswich fans are gloating today after the club's debts were wiped out in one fell swoop following a multi-million-pound takeover.

With Norwich currently racking up debts of £17m and with big-money transfers seemingly a thing of the past, the Canaries' biggest rivals are ready to go on a spending spree which could mean the difference between Premier League riches and a life in the lower divisions.

Ipswich will come to Carrow Road for Sunday's big East Anglian derby clash knowing that around £32m of external debt is about to be swallowed up, with an additional investment of £12m coming in through the sale of shares.

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The proposed private investment from businessman Marcus Evans is subject to contract, which is conditional upon the completion of due diligence.

It means Evans will become Ipswich's majority owner and shareholder (87.5pc) of the club. Existing shareholders will retain their shares, albeit as a minority group. The board say they believe the offer is in the best interests of all stakeholders and intends, subject to contract, to recommend it to shareholders.

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Full details will be circulated to shareholders in due course, after which they will be asked to vote on the transaction at a general meeting.

Town chairman David Sheepshanks said: “Marcus Evans' investment is potentially great news for Ipswich Town Football Club.

“The Board have been in discussion with Marcus Evans for some time. We are pleased now to be able to make this announcement about the deal, that when completed, will enable further investment in Jim Magilton's team building and our quest to bring Premiership football back to Portman Road.”

Evans is said to rarely give interviews, but in a statement on the club's official web site said: “I am delighted to be able to support the club, of which I have long been an admirer. I believe that Ipswich Town has great potential to build upon its rich footballing heritage.

“The club has an excellent reputation, both on the pitch and off it, as part of the local community, and this has played a big part in attracting me here.

“The board has done a good job in difficult conditions under the stewardship of David Sheepshanks who will continue in his role as chairman, with the support of a strong executive management team.

“Jim Magilton and the squad have made a terrific start to the season and will have my full support.”

The news will make difficult reading not just for City fans, who have watched their side plummet to the bottom of the table, but also for the club's majority shareholders, Delia Smith and husband Michael Wynn Jones, who have stated they would be willing to sell “to the right person”. That person has yet to materialise, leaving City to bemoan the gap between football's haves and the have-nots.

For Ipswich, who are fourth in the table, it could be just the boost their promotion challenge needs.

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