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Marcus Evans reportedly close to relinquishing control of Ipswich Town with USA investment consortium including Brett Johnson favourites to take over





A takeover of Ipswich Town that would likely bring in a new manager is reportedly close to being completed as owner Marcus Evans looks to cut his losses with the Suffolk club after nearly 14 years.

A group of American investors led by 51-year-old Los Angeles-based businessman Brett Johnson is on the verge of buying the Sky Bet League One club for £17.5 million, according to a detailed report from The Athletic, which has roots in the US.

It says Evans has been in talks with "various parties for at least six months, having poured more than £100 million of his wealth into the club over the last 13 years" and that "Evans is understood to be writing off that debt, giving Johnson’s group a clean slate".

Marcus Evans is said to be close to selling his majority stake in Portman Road-based Ipswich Town to a US consortium Picture: Mark Westley
Marcus Evans is said to be close to selling his majority stake in Portman Road-based Ipswich Town to a US consortium Picture: Mark Westley

The report also says Johnson’s group would like Bristol City chief executive Mark Ashton to take over the day-to-day running of the club, though there are no indications he would leave the Championship outfit, who have just appointed Nigel Pearson as their new manager.

The Athletic also reports boss Paul Lambert would be set to be replaced by former Wigan Athletic manager Paul Cook should the sale go through.

Meanwhile, TWTD reports the sale is "at a more advanced than has previously been suggested" and the deal that would see the club go to a US-based group would be worth £30 million.

It says Evans, who would be set to write-off his debt, around £100 million, would retain a small stake in the club, which would also him to potentially profit from any future sale or any promotion to the lucrative world of the Premier League.

New investors are reported to be in advanced talks with a takeover at Ipswich Town Picture: Mark Westley
New investors are reported to be in advanced talks with a takeover at Ipswich Town Picture: Mark Westley

Brett Johnson is the founder and chairman of Fortuitous Partners, a sports investment fund, and Benevolent Capital Partners, a private equity firm with investments in manufacturing, property and sport.

He bought a minority stake in USL Championship (second tier) side Arizona United in 2015 and went on to become the club's co-chairman and president.

Following his arrival, former Ipswich Town midfielder Frank Yallop was brought in as manager.

In less than a year the club had been rebranded as 'Phoenix Rising' and the ownership group expanded to include some other big names such as American DJ, songwriter and record producer Diplo and Pete Wentz of rock group Fall Out Boy.

Phoenix Rising have since gone on to become one of the most successful teams in the USL.

Johnson also recently became the owner of USL League One side FC Tucson.

The US consortium reported to be in talks to buy Ipswich Town is said to also include Phoenix Rising’s co-chairman Berke Bakay, who is the founder of Bakay Capital, a Phoenix-based hedge fund.

The Athletic report says Johnson is also launching a USL team in Rhode Island and has a small stake in Danish side Helsingor.

But TWTD reports Johnson, who was spotted following Town's official Twitter account in recent days, "is just one of a number of investors" and that "much of the cash will come from the pension fund for the fire and police services of a so-far unnamed US state".

Ipswich Town are said to have declined to comment on the Athletic's report.

But Evans, who took a 87.5 per cent stake in Town back in May 2007, has said in the past that if an acceptable offer came in, he would be prepared to sell.

Meanwhile, The EADT and Ipswich Star is reporting that strong words were exchanged during a face-to-face meeting between current owner Evans, who is believed to have been raised in Walsham-le-Willows, and manager Paul Lambert last night.

When they quizzed him on it at today's press conference he replied that it was "not interesting" and "if he wants to say something, he'll (Evans) say something".

The Archant-owned titles, who have called for Paul Lambert to be sacked with Town 10th in the League One table, have also carried the reports on the potential sale of the club to US investment.

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