Stuart Watson's Sunday Verdict: Time to go Marcus... but you already knew that
PUBLISHED: 16:05 06 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:33 06 January 2019
Ipswich Town were dumped out of the FA Cup by League One side Accrington Stanley yesterday. Chief football writer STUART WATSON has his final say of the weekend.
Marcus Evans – it’s time to go.
You can’t afford to make Ipswich Town Football Club competitive anymore.
Losing at League One side Accrington Stanley in the FA Cup yesterday felt like a new low. Not because it was a shock, but precisely because it was the opposite.
Accrington Stanley, who are they? Before long it could be Ipswich Town, who were they?
We’ve been sleepwalking towards this for a while now.
Evans knows that though. He’s made it clear the club is for sale if someone who had the ‘personal and financial credentials to do a better job’ came along.
Here’s the problem: that person hasn’t stepped forwards yet. As Evans said back in April, there isn’t exactly a queue of Chinese billionaires or Russian oligarchs rushing up the A12.
Perhaps one of those might just see an opportunity to buy a grand old club on the cheap should the rather inevitable looking relegation to League One occur. Or maybe they won’t.
Like it or not, Evans is the owner. He can’t just sack himself. He probably wishes it was that simple. He’s stuck with Ipswich Town, just as much as Ipswich Town are stuck with him.
Whichever way you dress it up, he’s lost the thick end of £100m over a decade. The wage bill was 108% of turnover in the last set of accounts. He’s plugging financial shortfalls to the tune of millions every year. The argument that he’s somehow made money by losing it is utterly bizarre.
To say he is worth £800m misses the point. A) That’s an estimate. B) A lot of that will be tied up in assets and won’t just be sitting in a bank account.
He threw money at it and failed. Football’s financial landscape then changed. He’s been left behind.
There has to be an element of sympathy, but only to a point. You could go back through his tenure and highlight several errors of judgement.
- No real obvious strategy until the rather obvious five-point plan was announced;
- No engagement with fans. Ok, no-one wanted a run-your-mouth owner who picks the team and changes shirt colours, but it’s not too much to ask for the man at the very top to be visible and accountable in times of trouble;
- Leaving his managers to run the club from top-to-bottom when a structure was required to both aid them and provide valuable checks and balances. Someone needed to tell McCarthy to be less confrontational. Someone needed to advise Hurst not to change too much, too soon;
- Letting contracts run down to the wire. Letting Martyn Waghorn’s transfer saga go to the wire. The list goes on...
Apathy, boredom, disillusionment, then despair, sadness, anger and frustration. Emotions are understandably high. But what will ‘get out of our club’ protests actually achieve?
A bit of venting may people feel better. It might also make Paul Lambert and the players’ jobs even tougher.
What I would say to Evans is this...
If you have formed any sort of emotional attachment to this football club, its loyal fans, as well as the hard-working staff behind-the-scenes then please, please do everything you can to persuade Lambert to stay beyond the end of this campaign.
It is probably damage limitation now. But don’t underestimate the value of that damage limitation.
There’s a record low points total and a certain game at Carrow Road to think about. Salvage some pride and avoid further embarrassment.
What happens over the next few weeks and months will shape the mood going into a huge rebuilding season.
Lambert started his own root and branch view on day one. The more he sees, the less he seems to like. It’s vital he doesn’t come to the conclusion that this is simply too big a rebuilding job.
Persuade both him and potential buyers that this club could be ripe for growth given the right conditions, not simply full of rot. Simply limiting your losses from here on out could be counter-productive for all concerned.
The big fear is that, should there be a relegation escape clause in his contract, Lambert would reluctantly take it.
Relegation with him at the wheel would make things easier to stomach. Relegation and him departing would feel like leaving a rudderless ship sailing off into the night.