Ipswich enter new era with £40m takeover by Gamechanger 20

Nick Ames
·3-min read

Ipswich Town’s takeover by Gamechanger 20, a group that includes three board members of the US club Phoenix Rising, has been completed in a transaction worth about £40m.

The deal ends the 13-year tenure of Marcus Evans, who will hold 5% of the new company. Ultimate control of Ipswich will be handed to an Ohio-based investment fund named ORG, which oversees a large US pension fund and owns 90% of Gamechanger 20. Mike O’Leary, the former West Brom CEO, will be the League One club’s new chairman.

Related: Norwich on verge of Premier League return after thrashing Huddersfield

Evans invested £100m in Ipswich during his ownership but, from a place among the Championship promotion contenders when he arrived in December 2007, they have slumped to eighth in the third tier and struggled to keep up with clubs they would consider their peers. He is believed in the intervening period to have received more than 40 approaches for the club, which won the old Division One title in 1962 and also has FA Cup and Uefa Cup successes to its name, but Gamechanger 20’s offer – which was under discussion for more than a year – was the first that persuaded to sell.

As reported by the Guardian in March, the Phoenix Rising co-owners Brett Johnson, Berke Bakay and Mark Detmer are heavily involved. Their “Three Lions Fund” will own 5% of Gamechanger 20 and will oversee the business alongside O’Leary. Edward Schwartz will be ORG’s representative.

In a statement Evans, who is understood to have been emotional upon ceding control of the club, said: “In order to meet its investment responsibilities, [the fund will] need to invest to secure Premier League status, and it has already committed to making substantial investment in both the club’s playing squad and infrastructure.

“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.”

Ipswich are expected to appoint a UK-based CEO to complement their new leadership team in the near future. Bristol City’s Mark Ashton has previously been linked with a move to Suffolk.

Derby have said they are on the verge of being sold a month after scrapping takeover talks with Bin Zayed International. The prospective deal is with the Spanish businessman Erik Alonso’s No Limit Sports.

A Derby statement said: “A definitive agreement to purchase the club has been reached with No Limits Sports Limited. The transaction, which is still subject to the EFL’s owners’ and directors’ test approval, is expected to close in the near future.”