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Brickbats for the Board
Nick Armitage unloads on the obvious target following another dip in form on the field

18 January 2004

For the last two seasons, the Everton midfield has been an albatross around our neck; unless something is rectified there soon, its going to be yet another long and frustrating run in to the end of another disappointing season.  We have blatantly needed new blood in our engine room for years now; our lack of quality in there comes back to haunt us week after week.

Without a driving force, a player or a leader in midfield, we have no platform to build on.  Theres no point investing in other areas of the squad when theres a gaping hole smack bang in the middle of the field.  The sticking-plaster approach is not working.  Moyes has had assurances from the Everton Board of Directors that players wont be sold unless he wants them sold.  This is not good enough whod buy most of them anyway?  The players that the Board say can stay, more often than not, are the very ones who need shipping out.

If Moyes is the man, then the man needs to be supported.  And support is not a back-slapping sound-bite on BBC Radio Merseyside from Bill Kenwright.  Our Vice-Chairman is rapidly turning into a parody of his obtuse mate in 10 Downing Street: all fart and no shit.

Moyes has stated that, during the long-awaited January Sales, nobody is coming and nobody is going... but surely he knows we need something in midfield?  On the few appearances that he has made, Alex Nyarko has been our most composed player in midfield this season.  Here is a midfielder who couldnt tackle the average blind man.  Not very reassuring is it?  The same problems resurface time and time again: the absence of a ball winner or leader; and our Danish maestro one of the best midfielders in Europe being as useful as a seagull in half his time on the pitch.  Dj vu anybody?

Last season's attendances were up; merchandising sales were up; television revenues were up; league prize money went up; and the amount the club paid to service debts fell.  This summer, Alexandersson, one of the great guzzlers of the clubs resources, will at long last be leaving the payroll.  More will follow.

At other clubs, that would equate to there being more money in the pot to invest.  Not at Everton.  We appear as penniless as we have ever been.  Ask yourself: exactly how was the Kings Dock going to be funded?  I wasnt aware that ring-fenced meant non-existent!  Lets not forget that little foray into fantasyland by the Gregg family-owned Houston Securities, ended up with our club footing a 1M bill for consultancy fees and pass-throughs.  The Board that sanctioned this have the audacity to bemoan the wage bill.

Five million was apparently made available for transfers over the summer.  2.75M was spent on Martyn, Kilbane and McFadden.  Im no accountant but I make that 2.25M which should still be available for transfers but now isnt.  Thats not counting the 1M received for Pembridge and McLeod.  The club has also banked additional payments from Rangers for Michael Ball.

Its about time the current Board stopped hiding behind smokescreens and mirrors.  Carter & Co is simply the worst-managed old boys club in the country.  With the debt under control, or more manageable, isnt now the time to build on the momentum of last season?  Who would have thought that our priority at this point in the season would be reaching 40 points?  The Uefa Cup is a very distant dream.

For over a decade, the club has shown an uncanny knack of going absolutely nowhere.  Thats fine if you are content to hover in and around the bottom half of the Premiership, but its totally unacceptable for a supposedly progressive football club with European qualification its main aim.  Moyess progress last season deflected the normal vitriol away from our split and failing Board of Directors.  In appointing Moyes the Board undoubtedly got lucky, but their ludicrous hope that David Moyes will turn us into another Valencia on the current budget, with the current players, does not hold water.  Hard work can take you some of the way, but ability is paramount; ability is what we are lacking and ability costs money.

Will the rumoured rights issue ever take place?  The 15M target would have a great impact on the club if it were to be channelled into team-building alone.  Why stop at 15M?  Kenwright and Gregg currently hold a majority shareholding in the club.  Will they be prepared to dilute this and face the added scrutiny to benefit the club?  Who would be willing to underwrite it?

Personally, Id prefer a quarter of something instead of holding half of nothing, but I suspect that not all the Board members at the club are primarily motivated by the clubs best interests.  Its almost four years since True Blue Holdings took control and, apart from Moyes, what has really changed at the club?

If the Board and their cohorts are unwilling or unable to inject the much-needed capital, then the real owners of the club the fans should be given the opportunity to do so.  Its as simple as that.  A decision at Board level has to be made.  They can swallow their pride, relinquish their grip on ultimate control and move the club forward.  Alternatively, they can keep the status quo they have maintained for years.  Take a look where option number two has got us.

Despite the collapse in football finances, money still talks.  The silence from the board is once again deafening.  Why are we waiting?

Nick Armitage

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