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The Mail Bag

Aspire to Mediocrity

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After another fabulous European night at Goodison yesterday I think it?s imperative to re-highlight the part the fans and the stadium play in football, especially with regard our beloved football club. This is not another piece about sentimental attachment to Goodison Park, although I cannot deny my love. I sat in the Upper Bullens last night for the first time in a long while and I was quite worried by the amount the entire stand moved to the motion of the Zenit fans.

With that established, my point is regards a particular comment of Kenwright?s. He stated, ?I am trying to say I am not an idiot, I am one of you. If there was a possibility of something different, do you not think I would not be going for it??

It strikes of an acceptance of Kirkby as the wrong move, wrong site... and is an admission of idiocy? The phrase ?if there was a possibility of something different? clearly highlights this. It is the cheap option, being driven by a financial interest that does not benefit Everton Football Club but rather Kirkby, its council, and Tesco. It is a Trojan Horse of a gift, with many hidden facets that will jump out once inside the city walls (in this case outside the city limits and built) and resign our club to defeat, reduced to being a second-rate power in English footbal l? not just temporarily but for good.

There is no reason why Goodison cannot be rebuilt, or a better location found within the city, preferable between Walton and the City Centre (docks). Money, although hard to come by, is no excuse; it shouldn?t be a thought, we chose an option, then worry about the money!

It is on such determination that greatness is built. Aspiration ? those who do not aspire, i.e., move to Kirkby, fall by the wayside! We will be resigned to a life of mediocrity, which is something that leaves a bitter taste in my mouth ? something I don?t accept in my life, and something I think I hold dear with every other Evertonian.

Is it just me or do we all aspire to see our blues win the Premier League one day soon? I think Kenwright might have a terminal illness to be so resigned to this fait?
Paul Ramsey, Skelmersdale     Posted 06/12/2007 at 18:03:53

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Michael Kenrick
Paul, I thought you were doing well there but you lost me completely with one sentence:

"Money, although hard to come by, is no excuse; it shouldn?t be a thought, we chose an option, then worry about the money!" You (along with my wife!) appear to live in some interesting vacuum that is sadly out of touch with the biggest reality of the modern day: you gotta have money! To think that we can just wish for the best, and then worry about how to pay for it later, is sadly not the way of the world, no matter what our aspirations may be.

A lot of what Neil Pearse was writing on this subject made a lot of sense yesterday, and it's obviously the biggest obstacle facing the No camp: where is the money coming from to build these alternatives to Kirkby?

Of course that is now getting clouded by a similar question: where is the money (£10M, £20M, £50M, £100M,???) coming from to fit out the Kirkby stadium?

Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
1   Posted 06/12/2007 at 20:15:27

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"Money, although hard to come by is no excuse"

If only everything in life were so simple, eh, Paul? If you believe that Goodison Park will be either unusable or prohibitively expensive within five years as Keith Wyness implied during the ballot and you accept that we don’t — and might not ever — have the funds to build a new stadium ourselves, then Kirkby offers, as you say, an option that could still be deliverable — although with the final cost unknown and the projected costs to Everton FC rising all the time, you have to wonder if we’ll be able to afford any kind of stadium upgrade.

I don’t think Kenwright is an "idiot" for admitting as much, but he does himself no favours by admitting it four months after a ballot that was characterised by the unwavering insistence by the CEO that Kirkby was the "deal of the century" and would cost the club "next to nothing" and verbal civil war between supporters over the very issue of the veracity of Wyness’ claims. Nor is his credibility enhanced by his claims that Plans B and C aren’t worth considering even though no detailed feasibility study has been done of either.

Yes, Kirkby is an acceptance of mediocrity and a resignation to the fact that we cannot afford to go it alone and therefore must get into bed with a major retailer. It’s an admission that the current Board does not have the financial clout for anything else, has been unable to raise any kind of meaningful investment — whether because no one wants to or because they’re just not trying hard enough or well enough — and that Kirkby is the only option the club can currently afford. Like Greg Murphy, I have some sympathy of the man and I genuinely don’t believe he is "aspiring to mediocrity" but was not impressed by the way he vanished over the summer and only spoke out about the Kirkby Project two days before the closure of the ballot.

Allan Hobbs
2   Posted 06/12/2007 at 20:43:28

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Its very simple:

Goodison is old and not viable for redevelopment.

Tescos have more money than we do.

We cant afford to go it alone.

We go to Kirkby cos Tescos hold all the cards.
Paul Ramsey
3   Posted 06/12/2007 at 20:30:54

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’Money, although hard to come by, is no excuse; it shouldn?t be a thought, we chose an option, then worry about the money!’

Michael and Lyndon, you are both correct about the pausity of that sentence, i do not live in a monetary wonderland but rather was trying to make the point that in life, in the pursuit of amibitous endeavours and in aspiration towards a greatness, which i fairly assess this club as being capable of, we must aspire first, set our intent, desire and then redress as, and when, and only when, we are on the brink of dispear??

We are accepting nothing more than oblivian?

Our club is currently in the best shape on the pitch and even possibly even off it in some respects for quite a number of years. The near, let alone near distant future is by no means certain. The board seem to have approached this move from the bottom up rather than the top down??

I am in no doubt as the clubs financial situation. Does not the future of the club rely on changing this status quo, not aiding it??

As for Kenwright, i also feel sorry for him, his lack of speak on this subject obviously shows that he is not sure about the move...but that is my oringal point, hes not sure, so he should be pushing towards something else as the leader of our club, not aquiecense?
Harry Meek
4   Posted 06/12/2007 at 20:54:50

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Kirkby will never happen.The complications are far more serious than at the Worcester site which was ruled out by the powers that be after the City Council agreed the planning.
Shall I be glad when the axe falls-yes,because I don’t think we should leave Liverpool but sad there is no Plan B. Of course the saddest man on Merseyside will be Wyness when he says goodbye to his ’success fee’!
Gary Tan
5   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:01:05

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Finally, we have some common sense on this matter (from Michael and Lyndon that is)
Kirkby/Tesco is not the best option, the board knows it, as does the fans. Financially, Kirkby/Tesco is the only possible option, the board knows it, many fans and this site (till now) continues to ignore it.
The only way around that equation is to get rid of this board, find ourselves a rich Russian/Thai/American, who will buy us a new stadium, and have change left for a few players.
Since none of us know a rich Russian/Thai/American, and we can’t get rid of the board, and we dun have a financially deliverable Plan B, lets just end all the stuff about the stadium, get behind the team, and enjoy what is an exciting season because if the team continues to improve, Kirkby will soon witness many memorable matches and maybe, just maybe, you will start to like it.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
6   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:23:56

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Gary Tan: "Financially, Kirkby/Tesco is the only possible option, the board knows it, many fans and this site (till now) continues to ignore it."

But is it, Gary? I don?t buy that it would cost £200m to redevelop Goodison Park any more than I bought the line that Kirkby would only cost the club £15m to fit out. Until it?s been shown with a solid feasibility study that redeveloping is either logistically or financially impossible for this club, I?ll continue to be sceptical of the rush to Kirkby.
Neil Pearse
7   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:32:03

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Lyndon, in line with our other thread elsewhere - we have to take the costs and revenues side of this separately.

While the problem with the Loop is undoubtedly on the cost side, I think the problem with revamping Goodison is more on the revenue side. In his rambling way it was interesting what Bill said in his interview about Trevor Birch coming in and immediately saying: "You have to move!" This can only have been because Birch believed that Goodison could not generate the revenues needed. I think that is fundamentally why the club is not keen on the Goodison option.

Again, Lord knows why they don’t come out and say this clearly rather than getting mired in a debate as to whether Goodison will cost £100m or £200m to revamp. Bill particularly lets his sentiment get in the way here I think and so can’t just say: Goodison cannot generate the revenues we need!
David Barks
8   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:32:12

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Have you ever had a kitchen remodeled, or a bathroom remodeled? The cost of redeveloping often costs much more than just starting anew. My in-laws had their kitchen and one bathroom remodeled last year and it ended up costing around $100,000 due to all the issues with rerouting the plumbing, this wall now needs to be modified, this counter top structure won?t support the granite so now we have to replace that. This project that was only suppose to increase their home value and cost a fraction of the end price has now resulted in both of them having to come out of retirement and go back to work because it drained so much of their savings and incurred such monstrous credit card debt. At the end the asshole of a contractor told them they would have been better off selling the house as is and buying a new one with the kitchen they wanted. Would have been nice to know before hand. The point is that redeveloping Goodison isn?t just a matter of adding a few more seats and an extra tier. Once you change anything on the surface the underlying infrastructure has to be re-done as well.

Of course the other issue is the fact that they live here in America where the people believe the government should not provide any health care or any other social programs. Why do Americans even pay taxes?? Oh yeah, I almost forgot about all that military spending of tax dollars. Yeah, Iraq has really paid off.

Allan Hobbs
9   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:37:30

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Lyndon - if the Kirkby site wasn’t in Kirkby, say it was alot closer to Goodison for example, do you think people would still be opposed to it? I mean is this about Kirkby or is it about the Tesco side of things??

I can never quite tell which is the case.

Also - where does everyones information come from on this? Why does nobody believe the figures stated? Costs on these things do change all the time, just look at Wembley or the RS. Where does the money come from for a stadium other than the Tesco/Kirkby one?

I’d much prefer us not to go to Kirkby and I’d prefer it not to have anything to do with Tesco but we simply don’t have any other funding. I’ve not heard one person who can offer any decent amount of money to fund anything other than Tesco/Kirkby.
Neil Pearse
10   Posted 06/12/2007 at 21:54:05

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Following David’s post, another point is well worth making here. We all tend to get a bit wound up on here on arguing about the precise level of final costs for Kirkby, the Loop, Goodison revamp.

But as important as the likely absolute levels is the degree of predictabilty / risk about the final costs. Because the one thing we can be certain about is that the final costs are uncertain.

Now, which is the most predictable of the three options in terms of the final costs? Kirkby by a country mile. As David says, there is huge unpredictability about tinkering with an existing facility (i.e. Goodison). And Kirkby, as well all know, is the simple, proven, greenfield, yes, ’flatpack’ option (and as such very different from the Loop). And the involvement of Tescos here is HUGE. They are massively experienced and do not make a habit of major cost overruns on their projects. You could not have a more reliable partner.

If you are not very rich, choosing the least risky option makes a lot of sense. Again, it would be helpful if Bill and Keith came out and said some of this.
Lyndon Lloyd
Editorial Team
11   Posted 06/12/2007 at 22:07:58

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David: "The point is that redeveloping Goodison isn?t just a matter of adding a few more seats and an extra tier. Once you change anything on the surface the underlying infrastructure has to be re-done as well."

That may be, but with Goodison we could at least do it in stages as and when we had the funds available rather than having to fund an entire project in one go.

Allan: Lyndon - if the Kirkby site wasn?t in Kirkby, say it was alot closer to Goodison for example, do you think people would still be opposed to it? I mean is this about Kirkby or is it about the Tesco side of things?

It?s a number of things, Allan, which when taken as a whole make Kirkby a really bitter pill to swallow. If it was just about leaving Liverpool, I think more people would come round to the idea (after all, PJ?s proposal was just over the boundary and passed by a country mile when put to a vote).

But when you add in a cut-price stadium on a retail development in Tesco?s car park, the whole thing just screams "small time" and is such a departure from the club?s traditions for excellence as to make one heart-sick about the prospect.

"Why does nobody believe the figures stated? Where does the money come from for a stadium other than the Tesco/Kirkby one?

Nobody believes the figures stated because during the ballot they were changing within the space of a few days at a time when the voting fanbase needed solid figures on which to base their decisions. The changes weren?t based on any new information or studies, they just smacked of moving goalposts.

Now, with £50m the latest figure to be admitted by Wyness, you have to wonder where the funds even for Kirkby will come from.

"I?ve not heard one person who can offer any decent amount of money to fund anything other than Tesco/Kirkby."

If you believe Bestway, they can provide a similar package at the Loop site. Granted, that would be a more costly build (again, no one has reliable estimates for this proposal, it?s been summarily dismissed as too small as an easy way of marginalising it as an option) but there you at least have the potential for government funding because it would be an urban regeneration project, particularly if it were tied to Project Jennifer.
Gary Tan
12   Posted 06/12/2007 at 22:20:10

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I see your point of view Lyndon. Goodison holds a very dear place in my heart too as I was there to watch my one and only Everton match during my honeymoon trip. (I am from Singapore).
But the fact is that even if re-development costs only half of Kirkby/Tesco, no one is helping EFC pay for it. If some supermarket wants to help us build a stadium, let them. I would rather every pound we have be spent buying and retaining players.
Roy Coyne
13   Posted 06/12/2007 at 22:35:49

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I am more convinced that Kirkby will not happen with all the news that keeps coming out and I believe the people of Kirkby have the right to a vote.If I had bought a house and then some one plants a football stadium in the area with all the disturbance every other week. Personally I dont care what happens to the shops and pubs in Walton and while I am against the move not just because it takes us over the boundary to be honest if we could get the true facts and it was proven that Kirby is indeed the only option then at least give us a stadium to be proud of not this shite at present.
Clyde McPhat
14   Posted 06/12/2007 at 23:10:51

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May I ask if the RS are having the same problems we are having in figuring out the right way to do this and they are bankrolled by very, very rich men. How are we do do anything with the limited means that we have?

Yankee Stadium in NYC was redeveloped in the ?70?s and it lasted for 30 years more, and now it is going to cost a billion US to build a new one. Why can?t we re-fashion our home? It?s location is where it should be and 45,000 seats should be enough for us?

I am told through sources who have visited with the Everton Board that we do not have a lot of sharp knives on this board. No good thinkers. No one with vision. No one who can lead us through a construction period. Wherever we build it, it will be a pandora?s box of problems for us that will probably lead to problems on the pitch.
David Barks
15   Posted 06/12/2007 at 23:51:37

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Can we stop with people claiming to have sources who know people with the Board and all this. Robert Earl just joined as a major shareholder, is an extremely successful businessman, and chose to buy into Everton. Would a man of Earl’s background and success choose to just throw millions into a company with a bunch of incompetent fools? Enough of this. Regarding the stadium, I have said numerous times that I would love for us to be able to redevelop Goodison but there was nobody offering any support for this, financial support that is. I voted for the move because I think that it would benefit us, but at the same time would give the motivation to LCC to step up and finally make a choice. Do they want to help the second biggest business in Liverpool remain and continue to bring in revenue to the city, or see them move 6 miles down the road and watch that revenue disappear. They had done F-all before this vote came around, but now that the vote resulted in a Yes they have become much more active. I’m happy about this, I wanted this to happen. Lets see what they can offer us now that the pressure is put on them. But make no mistake that if the vote had never happened or if it came back as a No the LCC would be saying nothing and offering nothing, the Loop site would probably be pulled and we would have absolutely no bargaining power and no options.
Tom Hughes
16   Posted 07/12/2007 at 00:01:33

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I think you will find the opposite has happened. The Planning task group that was going to be put together for the Loop project has not been mobilised. In practical terms the vote gave the club a mandate to ignore the options and plod on with Kirkby. By dismissing Bestway out of hand thay have potentially sacked that option. Bestway had commissioned HOK to do a site study, but this was too late to affect the vote. With no encouragement from the club they are hardly likely to spend more cash on pushing something the club have actively dismissed at every opportunity. As far as LCC saying or doing nothing, I dont believe they are really obliged to do anything for EFC, I mean what is it you really expect them to do? Is EFC really the city?s second biggest business? It only employs a handful of people.
David Barks
17   Posted 07/12/2007 at 02:48:41

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The number of people employed has nothing to do with it. It’s the second biggest business based on the amount of revenue it generates for the city, taxes being paid to the city, people coming from out of town to watch the match and staying in hotels, the pubs revenues gained from before and after matches. The LCC have spoken of the impact it will have.
Tom Hughes
18   Posted 07/12/2007 at 03:08:23

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Not denying it will have a massive impact, and that its departure could possibly result in many small business’s in Walton failing. LCC should certainly be concerned about the prospect, (although it would seem they are more worried about the detrimental effects of out of town shopping on the city’s commercial engine room, the city centre). However, the likes of say the Jaguar plant probably generates equal or greater revenues and across thousands more households than EFC ever will. I agree that LCC should assist the club as regards planning permission etc, but I don’t think they are obliged to do all their work for them, especially when the club has hardly been receptive to any suggestions.
Bob Fletcher
19   Posted 07/12/2007 at 09:31:34

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Tom Hughes the last I saw it the Jaguar plant was in Knowsley not Liverpool.
Philip Whitehead
20   Posted 07/12/2007 at 10:01:36

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By what criteria do we judge Robert Earl as "an extremely successful businessman" ?

Planet Hollywood under his leadership were forced into bankruptcy twice in the space of two years during the late 1990’s early 2001 period. His plans to expand worldwide haven’t actually taken off either with over 100 PH restauarants having closed.

We need more information , more substance and less spin re the proposed move. Something we don’t currently get from this board.

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