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article imageMirror Mirror on the wall, who is Marcus Evans?

By Pirate Irwin (AFP)     Sep 2, 2016 in World

Marcus Evans is wanted in Brazil over an alleged ticket scam for the Rio Olympics but the authorities will do well to track down the reclusive multi-millionaire and football club owner.

The conference and hospitality tycoon rarely gives interviews to the press and he has remained below the radar even as Irish Olympic Committee member Patrick Hickey had a very public arrest in a Rio de Janeiro hotel.

At one point, supporters of second-tier Ipswich Town -- owned by Evans -- joked "Where's Marcus" as nobody knew what he looked like, there being no known official photographs of him.

So little is known about him that not even his age is definite, although 52 is the one bandied around, and on the rare occasions he has given interviews he has asked for his voice not to be broadcast.

No one is sure of where he resides, although he is believed to have properties in England, Ireland -- where his company Marcus Evans has an office -- and the United States.

One thing that is known is he has accrued a fortune estimated by the Sunday Times in April to be £765 million (907 million euros, $1.0 billion), richer than legendary Beatle Paul McCartney.

While reticent over his public image, he has not been so hesitant in launching headline-grabbing bids such as twice trying to buy the Daily Mirror tabloid only to be smitten on both occasions.

"Marcus Evans is welcome to buy the Daily Mirror for 40p at the newsagent. This approach is wishful thinking on his part as none of Trinity Mirror's assets are for sale," was the dismissive comment from a Trinity Mirror spokesperson when he offered £550-600m the second time in 2006, some £200m less than he offered in 2005.

UBS intimated he was tilting at windmills with regard to the 2006 bid as they believed his valuation was half of the estimated value.

- Not a quitter -

His political affiliation is with the decimated centrist party the Liberal Democrats, former coalition government partners from 2010 to 2015 of the Conservative Party.

He donated £1 million in 2007 to them to set up a national phone bank, allowing the party to set up call centres nationwide in preparation for the 2010 general election.

But his decision in 2009 to set aside a gym at Ipswich's Portman Road ground as a call centre drew a withering response from one club supporter.

"I'd have thought Marcus Evans ought to be concentrating his efforts on keeping Ipswich in the Championship rather than dabbling in politics with a far from Championship outfit like the Liberals!" an unnamed senior Labour activist told The Ipswich Star in 2009.

He has continued to donate to the Lib Dems even since their electoral meltdown in 2015, showing he is no fair-weather friend.

He has shown similar resilience in sticking with Ipswich after buying an 87-percent stake in the club in 2007, even though they have only threatened to win promotion to the lucrative Premier League once since he took over.

Evans told the BBC in 2014 he was perhaps naive in buying the majority stake.

"When I first bought the club I did expect it to happen far easier," he said, referring to how he expected success to be almost immediate.

"Those people who sold the club did a very good selling job in persuading me that a little bit of extra money and one or two extra players was all that was needed."

However, he said he was a stayer not a quitter.

"If I was interested in not being involved in the club, I would have had ample opportunity in much more difficult periods to become a season ticket holder rather than the person who has to write the cheques out to support the whole club."

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