English Football League (EFL) club Ipswich Town has been taken over by American investor group Gamechanger 20 for a fee believed to be around £40 million.
The consortium, comprising three board members of US football franchise Phoenix Rising, was rumoured to be interested in purchasing the East Anglian team earlier in the year, but the deal has now been confirmed.
As a result, American businessmen Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer will be heavily involved in the running of the club, whilst former West Bromwich Albion Chief Executive, Mike O’Leary, has been appointed as the club’s new Chairman.
Ohio-based investment fund ORG, which owns 90% of Gamechanger 20, will assume ultimate control of the former FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners.
“We are humbled and excited to be investing in Ipswich Town, one of the finest clubs in the history of English football,” Johnson said in a statement. “We are proud of our success on and off the pitch at Phoenix Rising and are committed to restoring ITFC to its former glory. To this end, the first priority is promotion to the Championship and the management team will be given additional funds to strengthen the playing squad.
“The Three Lions have considerable experience in commerce and marketing, and in the medium-term plan to increase revenue at the club, but the short-term priority has to be the playing side, and we are committed to improving that, all the way from the Academy to the first-team.”
The announcement ends the 13-year reign of Marcus Evans, who first arrived at Portman Road in December 2007.
Since then, the 57-year-old has invested £100 million in the club, which was in the EFL Championship when Evans first took over. However, at the end of the 2018/19 season, Ipswich suffered relegation for the first time since the 1950s and have struggled to bounce back.
The departing Evans noted: “I had always wanted to take the club myself to the Premier League and sadly, for too short a window, at one time this had seemed possible.
“However, as important to me as my ambition for the club was, if it didn’t work out I wanted to leave the club in not only a more secure financial position than the perilous state in which I found it, but with ownership that provides triple A financial backing alongside a community ethos. I believe I have found this and I look forward to cheering the team on every week as we work our way back to where we all want to be.”
Ipswich is expected to install a UK-based Chief Executive in the coming weeks, with Bristol City’s Mark Ashton having already been touted as a potential replacement.