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In Defence of Blue Bill

By Matthew Lovekin :  18/05/2008 :  Comments (21) :
There has been much debate recently about new (foreign or otherwise) investors, which I have contributed to as well. Now I'd like to make a couple of points.

1. There has never been any concrete evidence of a bid for any investment into our club. This is due to:

a. Location. We are not in London (Chelsea, West Ham, Fulham, QPR)
b. We are not a top/sky 4 team (Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool)
c. We do not have a brand new or modern quality stadium which new investors do not have to pay for (Man Utd, Man City, Tottenham, Newcastle, Aston Villa)
2. If Bill Kenwright WAS to receive an offer of investment/buyout, surely us as fans do not want him to sell to the wrong bidder (Shinawatra, Glazer or Hicks, even a Abrahamovich as if he walks now as I feel he may do soon, he will leave Chelsea in the proverbial!). Kenwright has a responsibility to Everton to make sure IF someone else came in, to make sure it's right for Everton.

3. Kenwright and Everton cannot live in hope that an 'Abrahamovich' will come in and save them. They have a duty to carry on the day to day running of the club. They cannot put all their eggs in one basket. It would be like you or me spending your entire savings on lottery tickets..... and winning nothing. It's a gamble Man City and Liverpool in particular are losing, even Man Utd with their huge debt. This includes making us as much profit as possible from the day-to-day running of the club so that the profit can be put into the transfer kitty. Virtually every club knows how to make more profit is through the commercial part of the stadium, restaurants, hotels, even casino's, etc and to make the stadiums as nice as possible to get more fans through the turnstiles. This can't be done at Goodison, it's too small and can't expand and too past its best. We have to move, FACT, to include new corporate and commercial parts to our business. I don't agree on going to Kirkby, but we have to move.

4. What exactly is the crime against Bill? He saved us from Peter Johnson who was trying and ruining the club. He has brought in David Moyes, our best manager in 20 years. He has provided Moyes with money when needed breaking the transfer record three years running (Beattie, Johnson & Yakubu). He is an Everton fan and hasn't sold the club down the river like Man Utd, Liverpool, Man City & West Ham. He has the club's best interests at heart.

The only way forward is to carry on the way we are, investing in the playing staff and breaking transfer records, investing in the club by moving to our new state-of-the-art training facility and hopefully moving soon to a modern stadium. Who said you need a foreign investor to be successful?

Look at Arsenal. They have turned down a Russian investor to protect the club, they have built a wonderful stadium out of their own money, they have got a great manager in charge who has them playing good football and made a transfer profit in his time in charge. I believe Kenwright is as much an Everton fan as Dein is an Arsenal fan, that Moyes is Everton's messiah as much as Wenger is Arsenal's. They were both made for their clubs. All that is needed is a little bit more.

Why can't we break into the top 4 next year? There is no AFCON, we have a bit more experience in Europe; surely we can't suffer as many injuries next season with Cahill, Arteta, Osman, Vaughan, Johnson; surely we can't have as many bad refereeing decisions (Liverpool, Blackburn, West Ham)?

If we come in the top 4 next year we could be in the Champs League groups. Better players will want to join us, Moyes will get the best deals and get the best out of the new players. English teams are already the best in Europe, look at this season's Champs League. We could even get out of the group stages. Think of the money! Maybe even win a cup, think of the fans wanting to see the games, we could even fill a 50,000 stadium! We could get bigger sponsorships!

In summary, success breeds success. We ARE moving in the right direction, results over the last few years prove that, success on the pitch means success off the pitch. You don't need a magic wand (or investor) to make it happen. Money doesn't guarantee success, look at Tottenham, Newcastle, Leeds! Hard work and good management makes success. Have faith.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 18/05/2008 at 14:52:06

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Good article, Matthew. However much you may loath Bill and his luuvieness, no-one can doubt the fact that the club profile has been advanced massively and successfully since he wrested power from Peter Johnson. And because he is the one in comand, the credit for that achievement must go to him.

The difficulty for me is Where is the money coming from to sustain the forward push? You cite profitability of off-field ventures... yet the accounts show these things are not that profitable for us, and that the income from them has actually been going down due to outsourcing. Increasing the debt is the only realistic way forward, I?m afraid.

It has been going on all through Bill?s reign, it is how the purchase of Yakubu (and others) was financed last summer and it will continue, of that I have no doubt.

Is the debt sustainable? That is the difficult question. Some point to the big clubs... and they are obviously doing just fine with absolutely massive debt that makes ours look paltry. Others claim "the Premier League bubble is about to burst","the Sky will fall"... yet people have been saying that at times on the website for many years; both just get stronger.

Onward and upward!
Jay Harris
2   Posted 18/05/2008 at 15:10:36

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Good article, Mathew, and good response from Michael.

However I would take issue with a number of points regarding BK:

1. People point to the dark years under Walter Smith but until the crowd totally turned on him, BK reportedly "Spoke to Walter every day" so if you?re going to give him credit for Moyes?s success then you must also criticise him for Walter Smiths failure.

2. BK was also the man who appointed Wyness on ridiculous terms i.e. he gets c.£400,000 a year while being allowed to run his own company in EFC?s time and STILL presides over an operating loss despite significantly increased SKY money and selling off the club?s merchandising activities and training ground.

3. BK is also the man who has sanctioned the remortgaging of GP, the sale of Rooney and mortgaged future gate receipts because he had no money and has NOT improved EFC?s finances.

4. BK has consistently and persistently told lies: Fortress Sports Fund, Rooney sale, NTL fiasco, Kings Dock... and most importantly of all the "Crime of the century".

5. BK?s consortium own 66% of EFC but despite telling us he was looking for investment 24/7 the submission to KBC revealed that "The directors of EFC are unwilling to sell any shares to attract investment". In other words BK will not even secure a loan against his shares let alone dilute his holding to help the club out.

As regards your own view, you are wrong on all 4 counts of reasons for investors not wanting to invest in EFC.

How do you explain Portsmouth, West Ham, Sunderland and even championship clubs ? without a willing seller there, will not be a willing investor.
David O'Keefe
3   Posted 18/05/2008 at 15:51:03

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"I believe Kenwright is as much an Everton fan as Dein is an Arsenal fan"

Bad example, David Dein has sold his shares to Alisher Usmanov, an Uzbek with a colourful past, and made £75 million in the process.
Gavin Ramejkis
4   Posted 18/05/2008 at 16:29:45

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The pro and anti articles are getting tedious; you are either pro for the same old reasons and against for the same old reasons; pity it all rolls out over and over but that's what you get when the season finishes; silly season with transfers or staff.
Bob Turner
5   Posted 18/05/2008 at 16:13:56

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1. It’s a bit unfair to criticise BK for Walter Smith’s failure - he didn’t appoint him, he inherited him from Peter Johnson.

2. KW’s salary might be ridiculous in your opinion, but obviously not in BK’s, and his consortium has to pay it (well 66% of it, anyway). The reason why we make an operating loss is because of the transfer fees and wages of the players who just got us to 5th. We could of course get cheaper players, but we’d have performances to match, which would reduce performance-related and TV money accordingly. Unless you’re in the know, it’s difficult to ascertain whether we would have made more money this way. Tell you what, though, I’m quite happy being 5th at the moment!

3. Did he really have a choice on the sale of Rooney? The mortgaging of GP and future gate receipts obviously made sense at the time, and these have helped fund the players we have now. Again, not being in the know, it’s difficult to speculate on what would have happened if these things hadn’t been done. To be able to break our transfer record in the last 3 seasons gives some semblance of stability, surely?

4. BK has no doubt got some things wrong, but to call him a liar is a bit extreme. This assumes a deliberate intention of deceive - what evidence do you have of this? Let’s put it another way, is it always good business practice to tell everyone the truth? I don’t expect to be told everything that goes on behind the scenes, as most of this would be highly sensitive information, so it comes down to a matter of trust. You obviously don’t, I do. I base my trust on what I see on the football field, and to be honest, that’s all I’m bothered about.

5. I’d be interested in how many times BK stated he was looking for investment 24/7. I’m willing to wager that it is significantly less than the number of times this quote has been used as a stick to beat him with. Again, who is to say that he wasn’t doing so when he said this? Just because he isn’t now doesn’t mean he never has. BK might not be a willing seller any more, but if there’d been any willing buyers, don’t you think we’d have heard even the smallest hint of it by now?
Michael Darragh
6   Posted 18/05/2008 at 16:59:33

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I have to say I actually quite like old Bill and am glad that someone else feels that they should speak up in his defence. I don't believe anyone who has ever heard or seen him enthusing about EFC could really doubt how much he loves the club that we all love.

The way I remember things, BK buying out Johnson came as a relief at a time when things were looking bleak for the club and I don't remember there being anyone else around offering us any respite. I also seem to recall that, whilst BK is probably a great deal better off than the rest of us, it was always obvious he was scraping together every penny to make the investment and didn't have a further vast personal fortune to chuck at the club.

Would he invite further investment if it was from the right kind of source and in the best long term interests of EFC, to make us truly great again? Yes, I think he would. I think it?s been a bit of a churlish accusation thrown at all boards and chairmen of all football clubs at one time or another that they don't care about the club or the supporters and are just in it for personal financial gain! (Ironically, the only boards that can 100% accurately be accused of this are the new breed of foreign investors who so many supporters would like to see "invest" in their clubs !!!)

I understand that the Board has had to state that they are not seeking outside investment as part of the Tesco ground deal ? and leaving aside the emotive debate on need for new ground / location for a minute ? but that was required to arrange that deal and doesn't say the board never has nor never will seek / welcome other investors. Indeed in many ways the deal (good or bad) is evidence of trying to find ways to get other investment for the benefit of EFC.

BK, whether by luck or good judgement (& perhaps both), has presided over a very definite upturn in the fortunes of our club. I am as eager as anyone to see us succesful right now but for all my inner burning desire for instant success for the blues, when I reflect a little calmer I have to say I am quietly pleased with the progress made and am hopeful it will continue. BK and Moyes have managed to steadily improve things, particularly where it matters to most supporters ... on the pitch!

We?d all like to see a step change in the pace of progress and that's why I find myself surfing the net every 10 mins for news of our next signing despite the season being barely over (please Lord, let Joaqin & Arshavin sign tomorrow) ... It was hard not to be despondent towards the end but let's face it, we had a terrific season.

Yes, to compete with the clubs above us, and more concerningly perhaps with a good number below us, we could use a lot more cash .... but apart from the TV income and some commercial stuff, the rest of the money comes from us fans. When some contributors to this site sometimes moan about operating losses, they need to remember we are the ones buying the merchandise and paying for tickets ...should we be buying more or paying higher ticket prices?

In the long run, the thing that will attract us a bigger share of the pie, breed further success (both economic and playing), and who knows perhaps some more investment, will be the overall popularity of EFC and that will depend on performances on the pitch.

Issues like how much KW gets paid are easy things to knock BK on ... the whole ground debate tugs at all our heart-strings, even those in favour, like BK, I would suggest. But at the end of the day ... and never having had the opportunity to talk to him personally... I think Blue Bill seems like a decent Evertonian and a decent man who is trying his best and deserves some support now and then. Doesn?t need to be unquestioning support, and if it was the support of a benign billionaire then so much the better, but he deserves some support nonetheless.

David Kiely
7   Posted 18/05/2008 at 21:29:30

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Have I left anythng germane out here?:

Kenwright?s regime took over from Peter Johnson saddled with debt; they proceeded to sell/outsource nearly all of the club?s assets to service said debt; have relied on the Sky tv/Rooney money to fund the purchase of players.

I dont care if he?s a long lost love child of George Mahon and Molly Bushell... he?s a phony, and he?s done fuck all worth a pinch of snuff since he took control. I?m not exactly chuffed with the names associated with an Everton takeover I?ve heard of late, but one improvement it would bring is an end to the sickly deference you hear and read from fellow Evertonians who really should know better.
Gavin Ramejkis
8   Posted 18/05/2008 at 21:48:39

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No doubt I?ll get the usual suspects "oh don?t be so horrid with your hatred of him" blah blah blah but BK was on the Board during the reign of Peter Johnson and did nothing of merit then either.

I?d love to know, as per Michael Darragh: "I understand that the Board has had to state that they are not seeking outside investment as part of the Tesco ground deal" ? what exactly that means? Does the exclusivity deal with Tesco force the whole Board to state they won?t sell any shares or encourage external investors to help with the Kirkby project? I really can?t get my head around that being anything other than the Board stating they won?t sell. Just how complex and uninviting is the TBH setup to external investors as suggested by the outgoing Paul Gregg?
Jay Harris
9   Posted 18/05/2008 at 22:07:12

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This extract is from a Business Analyst who looked at EFC?s accounts 3 years after BK took over:

"Similarly, the overall debt of £29M does not take into consideration the transfers of Messrs Jeffers, Ball and Radzinski (which occurred after May 31, 2001). These three transactions should bring the overall current debt figure down to nearer £20M ? barring any "devil in the detail" of the bargains entered into.

And there is one overall convenient and perpetual myth that should be smashed: this is peddled lately by no less a figure than a former glorious centre forward now on the company?s payroll. It is that any financial fault lies with the previous administration. These figures, after two years of Kenwright?s TBH in control, are clearly the direct responsibility of the present regime.

One important point is that the debt (one year on) has increased from ~£15M to £29M during their time. How can this have any bearing on the previous regime? Particularly when the present regime would have had every opportunity to undertake the due diligence with which they appear to approach other matters with such regularity? Or is it a telling reminder of the spending spree that preceded the failed media deal?"

Make of that what you will.
Eric Myles
10   Posted 19/05/2008 at 00:13:03

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If it wasn’t for Kenwright we’d be in King’s Dock now.
Need I say more?
Frank McGregor
11   Posted 19/05/2008 at 00:44:05

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Excellent post by Matthew Lovekin and Michael Darragh makes a lot of sense and positive in the way forward ,hopefully we can make further progress in the transfer window and finally break into the top four. Congratulations to Dave Moyes and Bill Kenwright on the progress of last season finishing 5th and the European experience.
Peter Bourke
12   Posted 19/05/2008 at 07:05:05

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I agree with the Post and also the comments of Bob Turner. Its easy to get carried away with "why" or "why not" things may happen but until you have all the facts in front of you it is difficult to make a balanced judgement.
But it is good to see a post both agreed to and disagreed to in a positive mature fashion without any disgracefull name calling.
Excellent reading.
Nick Entwistle
13   Posted 19/05/2008 at 09:02:42

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This post is very... naive. Like a 5th former being asked to do some spin on Bill’s behalf.

Oh and with the huge influx of cash from Asia, you’d have to demand the breaking of transfer records, especially as ours was probably the lowest of all teams in the Premiership, give or take a few new boys, so no applause for Bill there.
Tim Keen
14   Posted 19/05/2008 at 09:15:20

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You state that there is no evidence of any interest in taking over Everton by other investors yet Bill managed to get the Fortress Sports Fund in with about 48 hours notice when it looked like Paul Gregg was about to oust him.

The man is a phoney, an Evertonian undoubtedly but a phoney. If anyone believes that Kirkby is about anything other than doing what is best for the board then they are naive as those who think he ever actually intended to sell to Fortress.
Phil Martin
15   Posted 19/05/2008 at 11:11:27

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I just can?t get over Kenwright?s quotes (see Jay Harris? post below).

The guy made a great decision in sacking Walter Smith and appointing Moyes but has continually fucked up since. If a player (ableit a boyhood blue) had a great season 6 years ago but had failed to deliver since, wouldn't we be screaming "get rid"? BK has not done enough to move this club forward!

We have a history and fanbase to match the elite but as a business we are ran like a midtable outfit. And now BK wants us to leave Liverpool in it?s most propserous era for a cheap midrange stadium out of town.

C?mon think of it like this. If the RS were thinking of moving to Kirkby, into a cheap Tesco value stadium, we would be pissing ourselves laughing. Seriously we would, wouldn't we?

Until we signed AJ, our record transfer signing was less than Coventry City?s... Our sponsorship deals match those of Fulham, our business incomes are relative to West Ham. I don't take this we can?t be successful off the pitch because we aren?t in London. I also dont accept that the board has been looking for investment "24/7" either.

Some argue an investor would have made it public to pressurise BK into selling. I doubt it though. Most investors have little emotional attachment to the club they are purchasing and so would have a shortlist of possible clubs. If the owners of Club A (possibly EFC) say "Not for sale", then the investors will probably just move onto Club B without applying any public pressure. WHY? Because the last thing the fans of club B want to see is their new owners having already tried to buy club A (the investors first choice club). Therefore making their club B look like second best. So, if an investor doesn?t go public with a takeover bid, it probably means they have other irons in the fire and don't want to damage the relations to other potential takeovers.

I can't accept Villa, City, Blackburn, Derby, Portsmouth, Southampton are more attractive than us. BK and KW have failed to bring in investment. NOT good enough.

Joe Rourke
16   Posted 19/05/2008 at 10:52:23

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All these posts about BK and barely a mention of Kirkby. Michael must be in heaven!!!

Two responses as follows;

1 & 2: Investment at any cost is most definitely a bad idea and despite talk of ?personal trainsets? with regard to BK and Everton, the situation is not a bad one. The only club who I would be slightly jealous of is Aston Villa whose new owner is as anoyomous as he is supportive of his club.

3 & 4: Arsenal are in some financial difficulty hence Flamini, Cashley Cole and probably Helb leaving due to relatively (for their stature) small wage packets. They don?t have much money to play with in the transfer market hence no big-name replacements for Vieira and Henry. The stadium has cost them ? even if their revenue streams have doubled or whatever, it's still a fraction of the cost of the stadium and this is affecting their disposible income so to speak. I don?t think you can hold them up just yet as a beacon of success.

Bill has got a fair amount right and should be given his due credit and a big ?thank you? for it. But there is one really big error he is trying to commit and its called Kirkby!!! Hopefully he won?t succeed here!
Alex May
17   Posted 20/05/2008 at 13:57:37

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This old nonsense about breaking the transfer record 3 times is trotted out again. We sell one player for £23m and spend £6m of it on a replacement. What a stroke of genius!

In total, our 3 record signings cost a little over £3m more than our receipt for Rooney. How in the hell does the board deserve credit for this. In the time that Moyes has been in charge, we must have had £175m - £200m in income from sky and other TV deals. We have spend under £5m a year net on average.

Given that Walter Smith broke even as manager, give or take a million or so, then we have spent around £30m net since Peter Johnson left the club, or less than Man Utd spent on Rio Ferdinand.

Absolutely pathetic, as is praising the man responsible.
Bob Turner
18   Posted 20/05/2008 at 19:02:48

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Alex, it was my understanding that the Rooney money was needed to pay for "past crimes" i.e. the perilous financial position we had got into at that stage. Therefore any money we did get then, was swallowed up by our debt at that stage.

If my understanding is correct, that means that the funding of 3 consecutive record purchases (£6.5m, £8.5m and £11.5m, or £26.5m in total, if memory serves) came out of "new" money.

Given that the Rooney money was supposedly also used to purchase Phil Neville and Tim Howard, this means even less of it notionally went towards these 3 purchases.

Without knowing what our bank balances have been on a daily basis over, say, the last 10 years, we’ll never know how to allocate cash receipts in with player purchases.

You state that we have spent £30m net since Peter Johnson left as a bad thing - on the contrary, to assemble a squad like we have for such a lower figure strikes me as a good thing. Yes, it has been DM’s eye for a fantastic buy which has done most of the work, but without the behind the scenes work in ensuring Everton had the finances needed, we might not have the squad we have.
Pete Jones
19   Posted 21/05/2008 at 06:03:25

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About time someone came out and said what is obvious to anyone without a massive potato on their shoulder! Blue Bill not only saved the club from doom under Johnson (when no-one else would), but he has managed to make it one of the only clubs in the country that doesn?t either run on debt or isn?t totally dependent on erratic foeign ?invesotors?.

He kept faith in Moyes when the aforementioned potato people wanted him out (and are now kissing his ginger backside again!), and has managed to deliver the necessary transfer cash from who knows where!

Are his critics the same people who happily support the evil Man Utd against our local rivals (who I obviously can?t stand too, but let?s face it, half my mates are reds, and I?m a scouser, so I?d back them against Rooney?s lot anyday!).

These critics are probably the same people who?s minds are so small, they never leave the city and are afraid to move to Kirkby cos they think they might need to finally get a passport to do so?!?

Sorry, getting a few things off my chest at the same time here, but i reckon it?s all related. All I can say is thanks Bill, for not only saving the club but also getting us as near to the top as possible without selling our soul in the process!

Bob Turner
20   Posted 21/05/2008 at 06:25:20

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Pete, that’s an amusing image you’ve created there of people walking around with a big King Eddie on their shoulder lol
Gary Rimmer
21   Posted 23/05/2008 at 11:47:46

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How can anyone critise Bill Kenwright, I just don't get it. He inherited a club that could only attract over-30s has beens and were regular bottom-six relegation cannon fodder. There was more of a chance of the club doing a Wolves or Sunderland than challenging for the top places in the league or cup runs.

There was another way were we could become like Man Utd, Livepool, Newcastle, West ham, Villa etc. The way that many big mouth, no morals, don't give two shits for our history, culture, heritage. The scum bags on here telling us to go on and get investment from any Tom, Hick or Glazer. They might want our club to be put in hundreds of millions of debt so the foreigners can make some money on our back.

Or let's do a Leeds Utd and bankrupt the club to get to a Champions League semi final. Me, I prefer the dignified Bill way, Where year on year we are moving up the league doing better and better in the cups and we still belong to scousers, and we are still an English Club. Keep up the good work, Bill there's many of us who wouldn't want to win anything owned by a Yank, Russian, or Arab and then to be managed by a Spanish, French or Jewish manager and hardly any British players.

And if you know your HISTORY...

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