Ipswich Town’s general manager Lee O’Neill has quashed speculation that there is a takeover on the table by an American consortium – and has stated that the decision to part ways with Paul Lambert was nothing to do with a potential change of ownership.
Following two crucial league wins against Hull City and Doncaster Rovers, the Tractor Boys parted company with Lambert after four years at the helm, just days after he met with club owner Marcus Evans for a discussion.
Even more interesting news broke last week when The Athletic reported that a group of American investors were on the verge of taking ownership of Ipswich Town in a £17.5 million deal, with Brett Johnson – one of the owners of American side Phoenix Rising – at the head of discussions.
The Athletic also stated that Paul Cook would be taking over Lambert’s position, and many publications – including local reporter Andy Warren – believe that he’s close to being appointed as successor to the Scot.
The likes of The Guardian are also reporting that a change of ownership from Evans to suits across the Atlantic Ocean is close, but it is all merely a coincidence that Lambert was sacked amid the takeover speculation according to O’Neill, who says there is no offer on the table for the club.
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“He’s (Evans) not actively looking to sell the football club but, as he’s always said, if there was an offer on the table from anyone who was interested in taking the football club over and they were going to provide significant investment going forward then he would always look at that,” O’Neill told the East Anglian Daily Times.
“His stance hasn’t changed and that’s where we’re at with it.
“At the moment the conversations aren’t there, there isn’t an offer on the table, but he will always look at an offer if it is on the table.”
“It’s a coincidence. This situation is not new and hasn’t happened overnight. There has been issues there that the manager has been unhappy with for a few months.
“There is never a good time to change manager and it’s coincidental that the rumours around ownership (have come at this time).”
O’Neill then further confirmed that there is no offer from any party and that he is ‘confident’ that Evans will still be in charge at Portman Road by the end of the season.
Ipswich fans are simply not buying O’Neill’s words – they believe that a takeover is almost done.
The Tractor Boys’ GM could simply be bound by confidentiality which is why he’s resorted to saying what he has, and that would make a lot of sense.
Of course he could come out in the next few weeks if the takeover does go through and say the offer ‘wasn’t on the table at the time’, but with the amount of publications that are saying the deal is close, and with Cook also on his way in, it does look like it’s a certainty to happen.