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Hidden Agenda?  
A recent article in The Evertonian has caught Martin Fricker's attention

26 November 2003

I have visited Toffeeweb every day since moving from the UK to America in 2001.  However, I have never felt the need to post an article on this website until today (Wednesday).

First of all, let me get one thing out in the open from the outset: I am one of those "scum-filled" journalists that Mickey Blue Eyes happily rants on about over on (does he class 'journalists' as just tabloid hacks, or do radio, television, internet, broadsheet and fanzine correspondents that he so happily rips off/quotes also count?) every time he posts his rambling 'articles' on Bluekipper.  

Okay, that's the main problem bypassed I happen to be a journalist who supports Everton Football Club so there.  Who gives a s**t!  My granddad saw the glory days of William R Dean; my dad never tired of telling me how, during a trip to visit my ailing grandma, he sneaked off to watch from the Paddock as Gray and Steven saw off Bayern Munich (how late Blue-loving Grandad would have been proud!).  I, however, had to contend with watching Everton on the odd occasion because my dad moved to London and the Midlands looking for work in the mid-eighties.

But I still managed to get to many games at Goodison Park a ground we are now at more greater threat of losing than ever before in our history.  Forget King's Dock (a pipe-dream that was never going to turn into fruition), the biggest threat to Goodison Park is Everton Football Club itself. 

Not the fans (who to this day remain the most loyal and intelligent of football supporters in the UK), or the team (who to this day remain the most hard-working yet under-achieving players in the UK) the blame fully rests with the Everton Board of Directors. 

What is my reason for this accusation, you may ask?  I just happen to have read one of the most sickening, patronising articles I have ever come across in my life (and don't forget, as I'm sure Mickey Blue Eyes will point out, I am a journalist!) all courtesy of my sister, who bought me an annual subscription to The Evertonian for my birthday.  A certain Michael Dunford ( the Chief Executive of Everton Football Club, as I'm sure you are all aware) penned an article in Issue 110 'highlighting' the prospects of a ground-share between Everton Football Club and Liverpool Football Club.

In the lengthy piece, he attempted to dismiss the meetings between officials of EFC and LFC (which were surprisingly secret considering we are meant to be the 'People's Club') as simply fact-finding exercises.  Yet, reading between the lines, several alarming points are raised by Mr Dunford.  Being, a journalist, I have learned to read between the proverbial lines to find the 'truth' but on this occasion I would ask you to read the original article in The Evertonian before reading my piece further. 

Okay, now look again...  Take the following extracts which I am attributing in quotes, as Mr Dunford presumably speaks for EFC (especially in an EFC-funded publication):

  • "I think it's in everybody's wish to see some sort of world-class stadium that would benefit the city of Liverpool" 
  • "Given that there is not a bottomless pit of money, it was sensible for the Regional Development Agency to bring the two parties together"
  • "With the Capital of Culture bid on the horizon in 2008, it's an opportunity for both clubs to finally discuss the matter in earnest and decide if there is any common ground"
  • "If you were a neutral, it does seem rather senseless to have two clubs going off in their own direction potentially investing upwards of 150 million on two separate schemes when, as we've seen in Italy, a shared scheme can work for two footballing giants. "
  • "There are mountains to climb, huge mountains"
  • "Liverpool have got their own agendas, we respect that.  And they will do whatever they think is right for Liverpool Football Club"
  • "There are certain issues that are, as far as we're concerned, non-negotiable.  I won't go into those, but all true-minded Evertonians, I am certain, will know what I'm talking about"
  • "We owe it to everybody to at least sit round the table and explore the possibilities and that's all we're doing"
  • "...when we either re-develop Goodison or move to a new stadium of our own"
  • "Given the speed in which the Liverpool scheme is now progressing, we've got a one-off opportunity now to discuss it"

These previous quotes come from a man who claims to be 'open-minded' about a possible ground-share and not content to commit either way.  Yet, in my view, he comes across as a man who is being asked to placate the fans (in the Evertonian no less) while making sure he does not 'burn his bridges.'  The fact is...

  • The King's Dock scheme is dead and buried and Everton Football Club will do all they can to erase it from the minds of both pro and anti ground-move groups out there.
  • Mr Dunford will not go into details of the "non-negotiable" issues.  Is this because if he reveals these issues in an open forum, he will not be able to negotiate them?
  • Officials inside EFC are now openly talking about, but not considering in the slightest, redeveloping Goodison a possibility they said wasn't feasible when the King's Dock move was first raised and then acted on.  This is to divert fans' attention away from the real issue, which is...
  • Everton Football Club is secretly pushing for a ground-share as they see it as the most attractive option open to them in the near future.

Okay, so I'm not saying JFK was shot by the CIA, Princess Diana was killed by MI5, or Neil Armstrong never landed on the moon, but this is at the end of the day a conspiracy theory.  Mr Dunford and the rest of the board appear to have run out of options.  The club has no money to build a new stadium; benefactors/partners are hardly being attracted to invest in a future ground-move; and Liverpool are on the verge of cementing (no pun intended) their Stanley Park move.  Time is running out and the board is getting desperate. 

Reading between those proverbial lines, EFC chiefs are running with their hands out-stretched to become a part of Liverpool's new stadium.  If it does happen and in my grandad's name I hope it doesn't just what sacrifices are Mr Dunford et al, prepared to make to line their pockets yet more?

Martin Fricker

2003 ToffeeWeb


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