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Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

By Steve Ferns :  07/08/2007 :  Comments (16) :
The Stadium debate. First, I'll examine the issues as I see them. I don't set these out as facts, because they are obivously my interpretation of them and before you read on, I'll confirm that I am opposed to the Kirkby move.

I?ve identified the following as issues.

  1. Location. It is not about Kirkby itself. It is simply about the location and the proximity to the city centre. Everton must be in the city centre, or within touching distance. I know that Walton is not the city centre, but any move needs to be closer to the city centre not further away. A move to Huyton, Speke, Whiston, Maghull, or any over fringe towns would be met with the same amount of resistance.
  2. Ownership. The move would put Everton in Tesco?s pocket. You don?t get something for nothing. Yes, Tesco may be getting a new store when otherwise they may not be able to build one, due to planning restrictions. Seriously why would Tesco cough up all that money to build us a new stadium. We will have to pay up front, or we may find that we are out of pocket in the long run and left making payments to Tesco or they will have some kind of deal in place. Research Tesco on the internet. Its not hard to find tons of stories all with one theme ? Tesco is often accused of exploitation of smaller businesses and only looking after their shareholders. Ladies and Gentleman, to Tesco we are just a medium-sized business with an attractive brand name.
  3. The stadium. It is cheap and lacks any character. It will be out of date before it is even built. You get what you pay for and no one will be able to argue that it will even be in the top 5 stadiums on completion. (Old Trafford, St. James? Park, New Anfield, Stamford Bridge, Ashburton Grove, Eastlands). Nil satis nisi optimum, or does that not apply to the ground? Goodison was the best ground in the world when built, for all sports. 30 years later and it was still the best club ground in the UK, Goodison is the only ground Pele played a competitive game on and had a World Cup Semi in 66 (the other was at Wembley) and the second most games (after Wembley). Kirkby will be ready for demolition in 30 years time as these new prefab grounds are not built to last.
  4. Corporate Facilities. How on earth are Everton going to attract investment from the fringe of the city? Who is going to favour booking conferences at Kirkby over New Anfield or even the Echo Arena? We will get the cheap conferences and bookings. We will not get new investment. The club believes they can get up to £10million. Up to £10 million is not enough. We are not aiming for the stars we are aiming for mid-table. The whole deal lacks ambition.
  5. Investment. For over 15 years, since Johnson bought us, no one has even looked at us as a serious investment opportunity. Kenwright, whatever you think of him, is not the devil. Nor does he lack the business sense to sell up if someone wanted to buy us. Furthermore, if someone really was serious about it then realistically there would be nothing he could do about it, he just does not have the funds. All someone who really wanted to buy us would have to do is to chips away at Kenwright?s shareholding by buying up shares of the other major shareholders. Therefore, we can safely assume that there are no serious parties wanting to invest in us. I cannot see how a much from the fringe of the city centre to a suburb would have investors queuing up.
  6. The current fanbase. This in the short term is not likely to change all that much. All the people, me included, who say that they will never step foot inside the new ground probably will. We should not lose much of the match going fan base by moving. And with increased seating, no obstructed views and better facilities we are likely to get more of the fans who go less often to turn up. Maybe a few of the north Merseyside (and surrounding areas) neutrals may decide to have a look. I think that in the short term our attendances will rise.
  7. The future fan base. My children will support Everton, like me, like my father, like my grandfather and like my great grandfather. This is likely to mean that Everton retain the vast majority of its fan base, providing the parents continue to produce Everton supporting children. The problem comes from those children from broken home, who have no father to education them, and so follow peer pressure. The peer pressure to support Liverpool over Everton within the city is sure to swell following the vacation of Everton from the city. I believe this will be felt most in the southern part of the city.
  8. Performance of the team. The team will benefit from a cash injection and hopefully will continue to compete at their current level. But this is Everton, nil satis nisi optimum ? only the best is good enough. We need major investment to get back to the top. We need at least £100 million pounds worth of investment in the playing staff to properly break the top 4. £10 million a year (at most) will get us a player or two.

Next I will consider what this all means.

My opinion is this. A move to Kirkby will not take us back to the top. It is all about consolidation. It is about settling. It is about saying lets dig in and try to stop Everton from slipping behind the likes of Bolton. It sets out our ambitions and says to Liverpool and Manchester United: ?We admit defeat?. It says: ?WE WILL NEVER WIN THE LEAGUE AGAIN?.

We cannot stay at Goodison, without redevelopment. However, It is not falling down, it will not fail a safety inspection, it is made of concrete not wood. Goodison has a few years left in it. Particularly if we can spend some money on it, but I can?t see the current board spending more than it did a few years ago in putting up a few banners, give it a lick of paint and painting a few stones.

I seriously think that in 20 / 30 years time our fan base will be less than it is now (as a % of Liverpool?s population), regardless of whether we move. I think this will happen as a direct result of a lack of success of the blues in comparison to the reds and their consistent campaigns in European football. A move to Kirkby will cement this. It will be harder and harder to convince the kids to follow in your footsteps. I never had a choice, there was no choice, but my first season was 83/84 and we won the cup that year and went on to enjoy our most successful period ever. Location to Everton is key.

Whenever I discuss the move with anyone they all ask why is it so important and whether I?d support Everton if they had moved to Kirkby before I was born and thirdly whether I support Everton or the city. My answer is this: I am from Liverpool. I was born in this great city. I love the city. I spent my cold hard cash buying a city centre apartment and not a house in suburbs. I support Everton because they are from Liverpool. If Everton were not from Liverpool then I would not support them. I support my local team. In Liverpool we have two local teams and therefore there is a choice.

Usually your dad has already made your choice for you and before you can walk you?ve got your first kit. Before you know what?s what you?ve been to your first game. However, if Everton had been moved before I was born then it would have been up to my dad and my peer group as to how hard Everton was forced upon me. If my football education had not coincided with the glorious 80s and my dad lost his enthusiasm as I have lost mine as the team threatens to leave its city and its roots, then I believe I would have bowed to peer pressure and followed the dark side. I would have chosen my local team. I support Everton because they are from Liverpool and they have tradition, heritage and values.

If Everton move then they will lose this and it will mean that they have turned their back on most of what they stand for.

Goodison stands on hallowed ground. We should do everything we can to remain on that hallowed ground. If we cannot remain there then we must look at finding somewhere we can be for another 100 years. This is such an important decision. We should not rush into it. We should not settle. We should not just consolidate. We must do what is best. We must show our ambition. Once it is done then there is no going back.

Kirkby is a gamble. It could seriously be the death of the club. Why not sit tight and think carefully before reaching our decision?

In 20 years' time, when Everton are playing in Kirkby, what will make us stand out from the likes of Bolton, Wigan, and Blackburn? We will just be another team in the Liverpool Manchester corridor. To get big time investment, to attract big name players we must be right in Liverpool. We must be synonymous with Liverpool as city more than we ever have before.

If we move we have to do it right. There is no going back. We must aim for the stars once more. We must strive to get our self back into contention for winning the league. We must have ambition. We must not settle. Only the best is good enough. Before you vote on Kirkby, think nil satis nisi optimum.

Reader Comments

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Jim Reardon
1   Posted 08/08/2007 at 08:34:44

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Great bit of work,


Vote No !!
Neil Pearse
2   Posted 08/08/2007 at 08:57:39

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I am a YES voter, but I want to say that this is a great bit of work Steve, by far the best case I’ve seen from a NO voter. (Thanks for the lack of Loop mirages!)

What it really comes down to us is this. The NO voter is really saying (Steve’s words) "sit tight and think carefully". There are no other known options at the moment, but we don’t like Kirkby.

The problem with this is: what happens if nothing better comes along? What if no big new investor shows up to buy out BK and invest hundreds of millions in the club? What if we come to think that, in retrospect, getting the investment from Tesco and Knowsley wouldn’t have been so bad after all?

Kirkby is not perfect, I don’t think any YES voter thinks it is. But Kirkby is voting to get new investment into the club, a new ground, and a new platform for a new investor.

Voting NO, I’m sorry, is voting to sit tight and hope for the best.
Ciaran Duff
3   Posted 08/08/2007 at 09:37:34

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Good reasoned article but I believe Neil’s response is spot on too. There’s no easy option here.
Dan Mckie
4   Posted 08/08/2007 at 10:12:52

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If its the kids with no dads or whatever that your worried about supporting Liverpool instead of Everton then what if Neil is right and we dont get any new investor or stadium and we are still in Goodison next to Liverpools huge modern stadium? Who do you think the kid will choose to support? The only thing we could then hope for is that we are just so much cheaper than Liverpool and that sways them!
5   Posted 08/08/2007 at 10:13:17

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A thoughtfull and heartfelt piece of work. Your argument is detailed and presented with a balanced, though somewhat subjective view. Its a thought provoking essay, and it did just that to me, a YES voter. I agree with most of what was written, but I cant help feeling that we no longer have an alternative to the Knowsley re-location. Despite reservations about Tesco, I do believe that the move makes financial sense to Everton. You dont get something for nothing but you do occaisionaly get a dream deal and this is close to that. For me Everton is a state of mind, just like supporters all over the world who love thier club and it doesnt matter where they play thier home games. Yes I would prefer to stay in the City, but as always to this council, Everton have been an afterthought!. We are not a fashional club, the Kings Dock proposal may have changed that, but alas it wasnt to be so we must take advantage of this opportunity because as you wrote in your artical, if there was a sugar daddy waiting in the wings, he would have already made his move. The loop idea is a non-starter, the waterfront was the realy only viable option within the city boundries, thats gone so lets get behind this move and make it work!
6   Posted 08/08/2007 at 09:42:52

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Steve, Great Article.

Neil, What if???

What if Kirkby is wrong? What if the investment still doesn’t come along? What if we don’t fill the new stadium? What if’s are on both sides of the argument and can’t be proved in either case.

For the record I am a No voter. In my opinion Kirkby is not the right move. I have my own reasons why I am voting No. They are a mixture of emotional and commercial reasons. This is Everton football club. You cannot and will not take emotion of the decision. It’s as simple as that.

I do believe we need a new stadium but I also believe that staying in Liverpool is a must...can the two go together? If there is a will to do this then that’s the first step to finding a way.

Personally I feel that investment is more likely to come to Everton the closer they are to the City centre. The naming rights revenue would surely be more valueable to Everton close to the city centre where thousands upon thousands of people will see the new stadium and the name on a daily basis. Preston north End have a fantastic football museum which is a fantastic visit. Imagine having the Everton collection in a museum inside the new ground close to the city centre. How many tourist visit Liverpool each year? How many of these tourist would get a taxi or a train or drive all the way to Kirkby when the shite are round the corner. Think how many of these tourist would not go to the shites new ground when they see Evertons and can walk around a museum of the greatest collection of football memoribilia in the world inside our new Stadium. I’ve worked in the corporate world for years. Not so Lucky you might say but one thing I know is that when a company is looking for a partner they want to be associated with the best. When they look for facilities for conferences or exhibitions they look for the best where they are going to get the biggest turnout. Where’s the best opportunity to get people to turn up? A city centre location is always their first and foremeost thought. Hotels, Bars, restaurants, all in close proximity. Go to Kirkby and you take all of these desireables away. Therfore you severly reduce potential revenue streams. There is more to just Evertonians going to goodison. Football tourism is booming. If you’ve been to barcelona I would suggest you’ve been the Nou Camp? Did you ever go to see the Espanyol stadium? didn’t think so....Tourist are potentially as a big an income stream as us loyal supporters. We WILL miss out on this if we move to Kirkby. This is just another argument for not going but it cannot be ignored. The footfall rate of the new stadium on a daily basis in Kirkby would be minute in comparison to a closer Liverpool City centre. That’s a no brainer! Kirkby would be a matchday use or the occasional conference use only. It’s too far away from the heart of the city. An certainly too far for the tourist wishing to look at the football stadiums sorry stadium. I’ve focused on the tourism thing in this Neil as I think it’s something thats being over looked. City centre location (potentially the loop??) is a must.

We would be The team in Liverpool. We would be the first thing everyone see’s. It would put us ahead of the shite. They’ll be miles up the road out of the way of it all. We would be in the thick of it. A world in one city....a club in the city. included on all city centre literature, tourist information leaflets the lot.

But hey like I said, this is only my opinion. Opinions can’t be right or wrong. I said my decision is based on Emotion and commercial interests. I think you can see why?
Neil Pearse
7   Posted 08/08/2007 at 10:59:39

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John, thanks for your very interesting and thought-provoking post. You make some good points. As Ciaran said, "there is no easy option here". If we could all recognise this, then we might be able to take some of the bad blood out of this debate. I think we are all trying to do the best for Everton Football Club.

Let’s put it this way. As Kenners says, we would ALL have preferred to get the Kings Dock. That would tick all your commercial boxes on the tourism front John. It is a tragedy that we didn’t get it, and BK may bear some of the blame here (although we don’t really know; the LCC don’t come out of this very well anyway).

But unfortunately this is all history. The question is: where do we go from here? Like Kenners, I do not believe that there is another Kings Dock around the corner. (I know the Loop is not it.) I don’t even know whether there is a major investor around the corner, and neither does anybody else.

In that situation, the Kirkby deal is a the most attractive financial deal for our football club that we know about now. And we can’t even see where a more attractive deal might come from.

We can wish and hope, but the reality is our wishes and hopes often don’t come true. Kirkby is already a good deal for Everton, and I think it very likely that we will live to regret rejecting it for something else that might (or might not) come along.
John Charles
8   Posted 08/08/2007 at 11:35:04

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Moving to Kirkby would make Everton much more attractive to investors. The reason we have no investor as there is no chance for any investor to make any money back right now as the club is operating pretty much at its maximum financial ability - e.g. it is achieveing all the income it realistically ever could at Goodison.

So, while debating the boundary issue is a whole different issue one thing to me is crystal clear - moving to Kirkby in this business plan makes Everton massivley more appealing to an investor because he then has a chance to increase revenue’s and make his ROI.
9   Posted 08/08/2007 at 12:41:58

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I agree we all only have Evertons best interest at heart and I’m not trying to sway you towards the No vote as you are as entitled to your opinion as I am.

I also agree that the Kirkby thing is a here and now option. But would we be doing Everton Football Club a diservice if we didn’t examine the other "opportunities" in the same detail as we have Kirkby?

This is part of my reasoning for my personal vote being NO. I’m not making an informed decision. I have no alternatives. I’m not saying no to Kirkby forever and that’s it. I’m saying no because there are alternatives and they have to be explored and presented in the same way as Kirkby and then I will be in a position to say I have all the details and my decision is such and such. I will personally feel I have made the right decision if I had that information and at the end of the day with all information made available I might very well choose Kirkby over the other option(s).

There are, as we have seen between us today valid points on both the YES and NO sides.

Just as an after thought John Charles, Wouldn’t an inverstor get a ROI from a stadium closer to the City centre too or will he only get it from Kirkby? I’m sure all the financial returns from a new stadium anywere would make us more attractive to an investor but wouldn’t it be even more marketable in Liverpool than Kirkby...up and coming city with billions of pounds investment and globally marketed versus an up and coming borough with a small population and a big superstore on the outskirts of the City. I know where I’d rather put my business.
Neil Pearse
10   Posted 08/08/2007 at 14:42:22

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John - agreed mate.

It would be better (all things considered, in a perfect world etc.) to have a prestigious stadium bang in the centre of town (and preferably with a view of the Mersey...). Of course.

But that ain’t the world we live in. We missed the boat on the Kings Dock, don’t have a big rich owner, the LCC is basically unsupportive, and we don’t have an obviously viable site of the type you are after. That’s reality.

In reality, Kirkby is actually then a pretty attractive option. Certainly more than a decaying Goodison in the growing shadow of the Big Red Monster.
Andy Lea
11   Posted 08/08/2007 at 15:10:32

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Neil P

Agree with every word you say. For my sins am a Yes voter - would prefer it not to be Kirkby but until a viable alternative is presented I dont wanna miss any boat
12   Posted 08/08/2007 at 15:48:58

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Can’t help but agree with you and the fact that Kirkby has been proved as, in Mr Wyness’ words "deliverable"

All I’m asking is lets put the same effort into the other site(s) mentioned and examine them. If they are not "deliverable" then in my view the board have done all they can and Kirkby it will be.

I know you mentioned KD in your reply. It is a travesty that we let that go by us but we can’t let that fiasco scare us or push us towards the first proposal we recieve.

We’ve both got our opinions and we aren’t going to agree on it as your a yes and Im a petty (haha!!) at least the one thing is we have been able to discuss it as evertonians without slagging each other off. So nice one mate...I’ve enjoyed the discussion.
13   Posted 08/08/2007 at 17:03:18

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Just wanted to reply to one point (to be honest, I got bored half-way through).

People keep asking why Tesco would be giving us £50 million (or whatever the figure is) towards our stadium, surely not altruism?

People need to put £50 million into the context of one of the largest companies in Europe.

They make that much profit a week. Are we really saying that the incentive of building a huge store in a new location, where there is little current competition, where they might not otherwise get planning consent, is not enough for them? Not enough to risk a weeks profit on?

Is it really more likely that the self-confessed Toffee who has led that company for the last 10 years of its meteoric rise is trying to scam the club that he supports?!

Why are people so convinced Terry Leahy is out to tie the club into some terrible indebtedness to his company, rather than just work with another company (that he just happens to have a personal interest in) for the mutual beneift of both EFC and Tesco?
Jim Lloyd
14   Posted 09/08/2007 at 00:06:54

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I’ve no doubt that Terry Leahy is doing his best for the club he supports. However, he is viewing all this from his perspective i.e. Tesco, successful company, offer to help build EFC a stadium in a massive retail park near Liverpool. Result EFC become successful too. I don’t think it’s that straightforward.
If this proposal had sited the new ground within the city boundary, I think the vast majority of Evertonians would give it whole hearted backing. But it doesn’t. If we leave Liverpool, no one knows what the result of that will be but it will have a result. My own view is that it will consign Everton Football Club to a meaningless existence somewhere outside the boundaries of our city. I think that the one most important thing above all, is that we stay in this cityOn the face of it we have a deal which is almost to good to be true, a brand new stadium for very little outlay.
Then for god’s sake, please ask yourself why Mr Kenwright is giving us all the vote!It sems to me like a dereliction of duty.He is fond of saying that he only considers himself to be a custodian of our club. Then if so, he should have the balls to do what he thinks is right for our club.
Instead, he puts it out for a vote. How on earth are we able to remain united on the way forward, when we don’t have all the facts. We are supporters, not businessmen, although I think we could come up with a way forward, given a bit of time.We are, however, not going to be granted the time. We are being asked to give the go ahead to give the go ahead to a scheme that we have hardly any details with which to make up our minds.
For the sake of all the great things that make us EVERTONIANS, please let us see what else is available , before we go on a road which has no turning back.
David Mills
15   Posted 09/08/2007 at 15:55:02

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Is voting Yes really putting an end to pursuing possible alternatives?

Seems to me that voting No puts an end to the Kirkby option, whereas voting yes keeps kirkby open, with details of LCC proposals to come.

The club have never said that we are tied into Kirkby by a Yes vote, just that we will continue to work with Tesco and KBC to draw up solid plans. If solid plans are drawn up elsewhere which were better, we could still switch.
Michael Rimmer
16   Posted 10/08/2007 at 05:27:46

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Steve Ferns dipped into my mind and expressed my feelings about the new stadium in his article 'nil satis nisi optimum'. I wanted to add that if Messr's Kenwright and Wyness did want to shoot for the stars and aim for a world-class stadium in the city centre then I would happily donate £100 to the cause. I know that's peanuts but as my dad taught me, "You touch one of my cans again sunshine and I'll friggin burst yer".

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