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COLUMNIST KEVIN SPARKE

Running scared

By Shaun Sparke :  25/06/2008 :  Comments (5) :
Let me paint you a picture in the hope that the analogy offered will bring into focus why I think the management of Everton FC has been somewhat short of competent during the last 30 years, and why they are guilty of running scared and selling their loyal customers woefully short.

Stretch your Imaginations for a short time and picture Everton FC as a shop selling an assortment of goods that you couldn?t buy anywhere else in the local vicinity. A few years after they had opened, another shop opens up across the park and sells goods that are very similar to Everton?s but the quality of merchandise just isn?t the same. The two shops are open for a long time but the Everton shop always seems to have the edge as they are periodically updating their shop with new counters, better lighting and a heated floor and the odd lick of paint.

The customers love coming here; as long as they continue to sell quality merchandise they will always return, and what?s more they will pass on the goodwill to their young families and tell them that the Everton shop is the best place to go to.

Now the shop over the park had always been envious of the Everton shop and tried everything they knew to become the top shop in Liverpool. They tried everything but just couldn?t compete with the superior goods and the high quality premises on offer over at the Everton shop. That is until the very clever men at the Liverpool shop employed a canny Scottish manager who didn?t want his shop to be the second best in the city and so single handedly transformed his shop by bringing in a better class of goods and probably more importantly as a result of this he started selling this high class of goods all over Europe.

Soon the money started to pour in and everybody in the country and Europe started to take notice of this new shop in Liverpool. So much so that the Liverpool shop was always crowded on a Saturday from people all over the country, while the poor old Everton shop had to rely on the genuine local loyal customers who waited and prayed for the quality of goods for sale to be high class like they had always been used to.

Now over at the Everton shop the management did not seem to be too concerned at first. However, they had stopped selling quality goods for a while and were now concentrating on buying and selling average products as they didn?t want to buy at the top wholesalers and were content to fill up the trolley at a cash-and-carry.

This seemed to go on for years; they had the occasional good year as they unearthed the odd gem or two at the cash-and-carry. But instead of investing in new counters and state-of-the-art tills they just threw the odd lick of paint on the old place and bought two giant TVs to decorate the place with....

I will stop with the analogy now as I think you b may have gathered were all this was leading to. Yes, I realise that life isn?t really as simple as this, but is it just me or does anybody else feel that we are running scared with our tails between our legs as fast as we can in the direction of Kirkby? What I want to see happen is for the Everton management to stand toe to toe with those at Liverpool looking at them squarely in the eye and tell them that we are going nowhere!

If we haven?t got the financial clout to compete with them at the moment then the management should do everything to ensure that investment is brought in. I don?t think that they have tried hard enough and the evidence would suggest that this is the case, as many other less attractive clubs have secured substantial investment.

If anybody comes back with the argument that we can?t find investment because of the state of Goodison Park, then ask yourself who the hell let it get in this state in the first place? Don?t let the lack of imagination and leadership from our management team filter down to you. If they tell you it isn?t possible then why are you all too ready to believe them?

This same lack of investment probably hindered us in our challenge for 4th place last season. We missed a golden opportunity to put us in the Champion?s League gravy boat, with the added advantage of depriving Liverpool of this much needed income. A larger stronger squad could have so easily achieved this goal.

I would like to ask Keith Wyness which stand he was sitting in the night that Everton walked all over Bayern Munich at Goodison Park? How did he feel when there was 50,000 Evertonians singing and dancing long into the night? Which pub did he celebrate in? How long did he have to queue for his final ticket in Rotterdam? Did he get the coach or train to Wembley when we beat Watford? What time in the morning did he get home? How did he feel when Wimbledon were leading 2-0 at Goodison and we were just 45 minutes away from getting relegated? How did he celebrate when the winning goal went in just minutes from time?

The answer is simple, of course: he wasn?t there, so he has no idea what being an Evertonain is really about. Yet this is the man who is pulling all the strings and is telling us that moving to Kirkby is the only viable option.

Shame on you Bill, you do know what it is like to be an Evertonian and I salute your passion for this club, but open your eyes man before it is too late. It?s your job to do what is best and you must know deep in your heart that moving to Kirkby is not the answer.

Stretch your imagination and work harder. Sell this club as the original club of this great city. We are founder members of the Football League with a proud history and we could have an even better future if only you would open your mind to the possibilities.

Finally, to return to my original analogy. After much agony the new Liverpool owners have finally put the first spade in the ground to build their new shop in Stanley Park. They have put two fingers up to us and have the cheek to move even closer to us. What is going to be our response?

Are we going to turn and run to Kirkby and rent out a small stall from the biggest shop owners in the land, or can we possibly dare to stay and fight and stand up for right to once again become the first, the best and the original top shop in Liverpool?

Reader Comments

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Jason Lam
1   Posted 26/06/2008 at 07:24:12

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If I may throw my 2 pennies in the discussion, the analogy you’re offering (shops) is purely based on the business end, taking little account of mad fans and their mad passion for EFC (i.e. irrational thinking).

For the sake of discussion though, the second shop had every right to stand up and be counted. Agreed? Also, the second shop fell foul of some European law in the 80s, which prevent said first shop (and all other candy shops in England) from selling their goods in Europe. This was when our toffees production was sweeter than ever but demand couldn’t meet supply, and we had to ship some of those toffees through Scotland instead.

On a purely business argument, if the sales trends show we are losing market share in the area, and will continue to do so, then we should target new customers elsewhere. Cut our losses and move on. Nothing personal, just business.

But it is too personal for some fans right?
Adam Cunliffe
2   Posted 26/06/2008 at 07:46:53

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Wyness is the biggest con man there is. Aberdeen realized it so why can?t we? The whole shop analagy thing is a very good one and Jason that?s a good point about Heysel. Had most of our quality players not gone abroad or north of the border who knows where we?d be now. But it?s all hindsight and after all it?s a wonderful thing.

Goodison is IMO the most trditional and atmospheric stadium in the country by far. Now my knowledg eof the bussiness aspect of football isn?t that great but I think that if we had 40,000 pasiionate fans inside wachin a Uefa Cup semi-final next season making noise like we?ve never heard before, isn?t that better than having 35,000 pasionate fans and 15,000 corpartes at Kirkby?
Dave Wilson
3   Posted 26/06/2008 at 13:45:05

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Shaun

I?m in complete agreement mate, but how can we expect the board to stand and fight for what's ours by right, when 15,000 of our own couldnt get the white flag up quick enough?
steve blue
4   Posted 26/06/2008 at 16:03:31

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And do you realy believe there was 15,000 white flag wavers ???? in all my 40 yrs of following my beloved blues , i only know 4 people who voted yes and they were from shropshire. Wyness stop the lies and cum clean you shameless mercenary
Kevin Jones
5   Posted 26/06/2008 at 14:43:55

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Nice analogy Shaun, unfortunately the shopkeeper of our club, sorry ’shop’, is stuck in his own little time warp, in our shop we still sell swizzells, gobstoppers and sweats out of jars which are weighed by the ounce on a big old scale and put in a nice little bag. While across the park its like Willy Wonka’s with a Golden Ticket for everyone. The problem is our shopkeeper knows we the supporters, sorry ’children’, will always come because as far as he’s concerned we like swizzells, we must do cause we keep turning up, so why sell anything different.
Then one day a few years ago our little shop won a Golden Ticket and was allowed into the big boys store, so the big shop layed on the floor and held its breath till it was nearly sick, so the wholesales pretended they had won all along and let them carry on anyhow, and there little fat shopkeeper with a funny beard smiled. Then our ticket was taken off us by a naughty man dressed in all black named Collina. So the Wonka’s from across the park lived happy ever after. But I like swizzells and gobstoppers cause to many Wonka’s together make me feel sick. So l’ll carry on going to the old shop because I love it. The End

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