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11 August 2014

Saturday's matchday programme carried the thoughts of Marcus Evans....

Saturday's matchday programme carried the thoughts of Marcus Evans.... here's the full column

I would like to welcome you all back to Portman Road for what will hopefully result in a promotion season or at least a year of further progression.

I would especially like to say thank you to our thousands of season ticket holders who stick with the Club through good and not so good times.

I am now entering my seventh full season with the Club and feel I am an old hand, however when I am told that we have several season ticket holders with over 60 years of continued support I realise the depth of loyalty the Club enjoys.

The biggest positive for me over the close season was Mick and Terry signing new three year deals. We can't get anywhere in this league without continuity and a long term plan. These new contracts have and will result in our current core squad extending their contracts and new players being attracted to a stable and successful environment.

From a player perspective, we were all sorry to see Aaron leave. However, once the immediate prospect of Premier League football was presented to him, along with a fair valuation offered for the player, it was always going to be difficult to keep him at Ipswich. 

I am highly conscious that letting our best players move on will make promotion harder, however the football management at the Club decided we have a great option going forward at left-back with Tyrone and also, having brought in Jonny Parr, this will not be as big a loss as it might have been. Having considered all of these points, we all agreed it was best to proceed with the move. 

On the incoming side we have a new `keeper in Bart to challenge for the No.1. jersey, Stephen and Alex are back with us and we have added some talented, fresh faces to the squad in Jonny, Balint, Kevin and Cameron.   

My strategy to move the Club forward is a simple one. To where possible keep the core of our squad together and add a few, new faces each year (some from the Academy and some from outside)  to ensure a net gain season upon season in the quality of the team, with this strategy leading to promotion - and all the time doing so within a solid financial framework.

This year will also see the rules relating to financial fair play start to bite. Those who have breached the rules should see fines (promoted clubs) and transfer embargoes (those that remain in the Championship). 

These take effect in January 2015 and time will tell if the rules have the desired effect of stopping clubs throwing everything they can at promotion in one or two seasons to the detriment of those trying to develop their club's long term future alongside a long term secure financial strategy. 

I for one fully support a plan which rewards clubs with sensible long term plans. 

Before FFP [Financial Fair Play] those trying to build sensibly over the long term would see little benefit in doing so as every season another club would roll the dice with huge short term investment to create a short term advantage, creating an environment of disincentive for those trying to do the right thing. Your club has worked within FFP since it was introduced and I view FFP as a positive step, but only a first step in creating a more secure structure for football finances. 

The system will, however, only work when the financial gap between non parachute and parachute clubs is closed and at Ipswich we are working hard with the Football League and other like-minded clubs to influence ongoing discussions where we can.

On the youth side, it was disappointing to have not achieved Cat 1 Academy status at our first try, however we will continue with our efforts to gain the needed passmark with another audit next year. Thank you again to all those who have in the past - and continue to support our Academy sponsorship programme. I assure you every pound committed to the Academy from you means more invested directly in the first-team squad, so this assistance is invaluable.

I am as excited as ever at the start of a new season but realistic enough to know that we are as usual in for a rollercoaster ride.  

My support continues to be undiminished in pursuit of Premier League football and despite the hugely competitive league that we play in, I sincerely believe that my own input seven years into the role as well as the stable environment created over the last couple of years by Mick and his team puts us in a great position in what, as always, will be a tough and long season.

On a final note I would like to welcome Fulham back to Portman Road for the first time in 12 years. 

They are a club with a great tradition and an example to the non-giant clubs of how one can create an established Premier League outfit. 
We also represent Fulham's biggest ever League win - and our heaviest loss - at 10-1 back in December 1963 so maybe time for some gentle retribution!

Enjoy the season.

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