Marcus Evans big interview: Why and how Town owner will be ‘more hands-on’
PUBLISHED: 16:00 30 January 2019
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has gone into great detail about his more ‘hands-on’ role at the club.
Managing director Ian Milne has departed following six years at the club, with Evans having increased the amount of time he spends at both Portman Road and Playford Road in recent months.
The Blues owner says he will be giving the various heads of department at the club chance to appeal to him directly about the big issues they face. His reviews of off-field matters will be monthly now rather than quarterly.
“I’ll have a little think, maybe in six months time, about what structure I want going forwards having had a chance for a few months to get even more hands-on than perhaps I was before,” he explained.
On giving academy manager Lee O’Neill extra duties as ‘general manager football operations’, Evans explained: “That middle person is thinking about the long-term for the club in addition to the manager just thinking about things from his own perspective. That’s important.”
Evans has always been very hands-on when it comes to negotiating transfers, communicating directly with the manager and formulating plans for the club’s academy.
What he’s done more of over the last six months is get involved in areas such as sports science and scouting.
“Scouting is something I would pretty much have left to previous managers to set-up in the way they wanted it to be done,” he explained.
“That’s an area, last summer, I felt we could have had a bit more formula to. We needed to create better structures in terms of our internal record keeping in terms of who we had scouted, how we could identify new players and also looking a little bit more outside of the traditional leagues we had been looking in.
“The Championship is becoming so expensive that some of the leagues in Europe which may have been on a similar level to us financially three or four years ago, even more recently than that, are now below us financially, which means we can look at places for players that we didn’t look at before.
“If you are going to start scouting further afield then you need to be a little bit more organised in order to make decisions not just based upon the occasional agent recommendation, which is how we might have got some players in the past.
So I’ve been quite a bit more hands-on, not in determining which players we bring in, that’s not my decision, but trying to create a scouting structure which is far more supportive of the manager whichever manager we might have.
“It’s also about trying to make sure that scouting structure doesn’t change with the manager which happens quite often. You’ll see that Dave Bowman and the scouts that were here with Mick (McCarthy) are still here now.”
On sports science, he said: “If you look at some of the managers we’ve had in the past their attitude to sports science has probably been ‘I’ve taken 500 games, I can see whether a player should be training or not training, I don’t need anything more than my eyes to determine a player’s level of fitness and what we should put them through’.
“You can’t argue with some of the ones who use the more historic methodology because some of them have been incredibly successful, but what I have found is that when you’re talking to younger managers who maybe have just finished their careers they have seen how sports science benefitted them.
“That area of sports science is something I felt, as a club, we weren’t providing the best service we could to help the manager in their decision making. I became a lot more hands-on last summer in trying to create a support mechanism there that will transcend whatever manager that we have.”
Asked how feasible is it going to be for him to be so hands-on given he has a number of worldwide business to oversee, Evans replied: “Well I’ll give you an example. I have a business in Australia which does incredibly well and I haven’t been to Australia for 10 years. I’m on the video with the guys that run it on a regular basis.
“The way that communications are now you don’t have to physically be in front of people, across a desk, every minute of the day in order to affect the way the business is being run.
“But I will be here a bit more.”