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Kirkby Inquiry ? questions that should be asked

By Peter Cornwell :  06/12/2008 :  Comments (25) :
I have read summaries of the evidence heard at the inquiry last week and I am astonished that the most pertinent issues with regard to EFC's move to Kirkby have not been raised. These are the questions that should be put to Elstone:
  1. Please confirm that the ballot of Everton fans in 2007 simply gave the club authority to "explore the possibility" of moving to Kirkby.
  2. Do you accept that the ballot did not actually give you authority from the fans to actually move to Kirkby?
  3. Do you intend to hold a further ballot to ask the clubs fans for such authority?
  4. If not, why not?
  5. Do you accept that if the club moves from the city of Liverpool it will change the club irrevocably for ever and that such a move should not be taken without such an authority from the fans?
  6. Do you accept that many fans perceive that, in the previous ballot, the Club's representation of the proposed stadium and in particular the transport facilities were misleading?
  7. Do you believe that the stadium will have (as was claimed at the time of the ballot) possibly the best transport facilities of any stadium in the UK?
  8. Have you made any attempt to assess how many supporters will walk to the Kirkby stadium if it is built?
  9. If it is very few, then do you accept that most of the supporters attending at the new stadium will travel by car, bus, or train?
  10. Of those persons travelling by transport, do you accept that most will travel by car?
  11. Is it correct that there are very limited parking facilities close to the stadium?
  12. Is it correct that supporters will be prevented from parking in the public car parks constructed for the shopping facilities.
  13. Is it correct therefore that most persons travelling by car will have to park some considerable distance away from the stadium?
  14. Do you accept that fans travelling by car will spend some considerable time in traffic queues before they can park because there are so few routes into Kirkby?
  15. And that they will then spend some considerable time walking to the stadium?
  16. And that they will be faced with similar problems after the game?
  17. Do you believe that there is a risk that a proportion of fans will find this a disincentive to attending matches at the stadium?
  18. EFC's current average attendance is approximately 35,000. Many lifelong supporters have expressed their intention not to attend matches at Kirkby because the club is moving out of the city of Liverpool. Do you accept that there is a risk that in moving to Kirkby the club will lose a proportion of its core supporters who reside in city of Liverpool?
  19. Do you accept, therefore, that there is a risk that a substantial proportion of those 35,000 supporters will not attend matches at Kirkby?
  20. Have you made any attempt to assess the number of such fans?
  21. Do you accept that there is a risk that the attendance experience of those travelling by car is a disincentive to those fans attending in the future?
  22. If you accept that these risks exist, then are you concerned that the future attendances at the stadium will fall below an average of 35000?
  23. Have you made any attempt to try to assess the likely future average attendance at the stadium?
  24. Do you accept that it is highly unlikely it will equal the current 35,000?
  25. Would you accept it could fall to as low as 30,000?
  26. Would you accept there is a risk it could fall to 25,000?
  27. Is it correct the capacity of the stadium will be 50000?
  28. Would you be concerned that 25,000 people in a 50,000 stadium would create an empty atmosphere?
  29. Do you accept that that could affect the team's performance?
  30. If this occurred, do you believe there is a risk that, of those 25,000 fans, many would find it such an unpleasant and uninspiring experience that they may not attend future games?
  31. Do you accept therefore that there is a subsequent risk that the attendance could then fall below 25,000?
  32. If that happened do you accept that attendaces could fall to 20, 000... 15,000... even 10,000?
  33. What will be the minimum attendance EFC requires to continue financially, bearing in mind you have given evidence that the current debt has risen recently to in excess of £35M and the club's minimum expenditure on the stadium will be £78M, making a total of at least £113M and that that level of debt will require substantial annual repayments?
  34. Because of falling gates and the financial pressure that that creates, is it likely that, to raise funds to meet its debts, the club would most likely sell its most saleable assets?
  35. Are its most saleable assets the players?
  36. If a club sells its best players, do you accept that that is likely to adversely affect the team's performance?
  37. Excepting the top 4 clubs, who are unlikely to ever be at risk of relegation, do you accept that there is a 1 in16 chance of EFC being relegated?
  38. If EFC is relegated have you carried out a risk assessment as to whether EFC will be able to continue trading?
  39. If EFC cannot meet the increased debt repayments, is it likely EFC will enter administration?
  40. If it enters administration and has no prospect of meeting its debt repayments, is it then likely that the club will cease trading?
  41. If that happens, what will happen to the stadium that has been built?
  42. Is there a risk that it will remain unused and empty?
  43. Do you accept that you, as CEO, owe a duty to the club, its shareholders and its supporters?
  44. Do you believe you are fulfilling that duty if you engage in a course of action which exposes the club to a risk of catastrophic failure and ultimately closure?
  45. Do you believe you have done enough to assess that risk?
  46. Do you believe you have the right to put at risk the future existence of one of the greatest football institutions of this country, which has been in existence for 130 years and which is such an important part of so many people's lives?
I'm sure others cleverer than me could think of more searching questions, backed up by statistics, but I just don't think the inspector listening to this enquiry has had it brought to her attention the risk that this move presents to EFC. If it all goes badly and we are relegated with huge debts then, having alienated its core supporters, the club may not survive. If that happens, the inspector may be responsible for sanctioning the construction of a stadium that will subsequently lie empty and be an embarrassment to her and the people of Kirkby.

Reader Comments

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Derek Turnbull
1   Posted 08/12/2008 at 17:11:17

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Some good questions there. In particular, I’l like to expand on points 29-32 with regards to the atmosphere.

You questions about the the poor atmosphere of the ground when it holds 25,000.

You may be interested to know that it hasn’t been designed fore atmosphere even if there was a full house there!

In fact if a group a fans try to get any atmosphere going by way of any singing, which naturally includes sdtanding, then the stadium either
a) There will be safety issues as the upper tier is too steep, and it’s an upper tier which is unsafe for standing anyway.

b) It will impair the view of the executives if they stand in the lower tier causing more friction.
Steve Taylor
2   Posted 08/12/2008 at 19:07:30

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Derek - not sure what facts you?ve based those comments on, but standing in the upper tier of any ground will have safety implications and is therefore not allowed ? no idea how the angle of the stand compares to GP or other PL grounds, I assume you do?

As for the exec boxes ? I?d agree that having them at the back of the home end is not a sensible option; however, I?ve been in a few at various grounds & I?ve watched the game with the fans in front all stood up & it doesn?t impair your view, as the height of the box is such that?s it?s irrelevant ? thus it won?t cause an issue IMO.

As for Peters questions 1-4 relating to the ballot ? come off it mate, what do you think that the positive outcome of the ballot meant then? And don?t forget EFC are the only major club to ballot their fans in search of a mandate to move ? they had no legal obligation to do so & I?m sure they regret it, as it?s given each & every Evertonian a "stakeholding" in the decision & made the move even more divisive that it needed to be - it?s their business & ultimately they can do what they like with it.
Derek Turnbull
3   Posted 08/12/2008 at 21:52:28

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Steve you said ?but standing in the upper tier of any ground will have safety implications and is therefore not allowed?

That?s the point I was making, sorry if I didn?t make it clear, I wrote it in a rush in work.

KSS suggested that the vocal fans go in the upper tier, but as we both pointed out there are safety issues. Most exec boxes are higher than that of the ones in Kirkby and they do take into account that fans may stand up. The ones in Kirkby don?t.

There is another issue here, though, as well as blocking the views: how many fans will actually feel comfortable standing up with boxes behind them? You go the match as a form of escapism, and you have your bosses directly behind you!

More likely though the police control room will be right behind the vocal element.

Final issue on standing in the lower, where?s the acoustics?
Mick Gallagher
4   Posted 08/12/2008 at 22:46:19

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Yes, Everton are the only club to ballot fans... but don't say all fans were asked. I have followed them home, away and abroad and was not given a vote, as I'm not a season ticket holder. Although the club had all my details from buying tickets.
Jay Harris
5   Posted 08/12/2008 at 23:15:48

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One question you?ve missed out:-

Why are members of the Board providing a statement requesting government assistance documenting that they are unwilling to sell their shares to help fund the development while, via an EGM and the media, they have publicly declared their intent to sell their shares?
Neil Pearse
6   Posted 08/12/2008 at 23:50:36

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Jay, the answer is pretty obvious. They have to tell the Kirkby Inquiry that they don’t intend to sell their shares otherwise, amongst other things, there could be questions as to whether new owners would continue with the project.

On other occasions they suggest they would sell - because they want to get new owners!

Beats me if they can get away with it, but it’s obvious why they are doing what they are doing.

Like most of these questions it is pretty obvious after all this time what the answers would be, even if you disagree with those answers. They are not really questions, more the laying out of all the arguments against Kirkby which those on both sides are now so familiar with.

I don’t think Elstone is suddenly going to say: "Gosh! You are right! If we go to Kirkby we might lose most of our support, have to sell our best players, get relegated, be unable to pay our debts, go into administration, and disappear off the face the earth..." At least I would be suprised if he did! It would certainly make the inquiry a bit more interesting....
Peter Howard
7   Posted 09/12/2008 at 12:38:55

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None of those questions are in any way relevant to the issues the Inspector has to decide. Do you not think an experienced QC understands what questions too ask? Why not ask her if she prefers 4-5-1 at home?
Steve McWhortle
8   Posted 09/12/2008 at 13:06:40

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Oh dear.... We seem to have reached new levels of desperation in the NO camp if the opening gambit from Peter is any indication!

The ballot was to assertain if the majority of fans were in favour of allowing the club to pursue the Kirkby Project further; ie if we had said NO then the club would have ended the deal there and then.

At no point was there ANY indication of a follow-up ballot to continue dealing with Knowsley/Tesco!

To suggest otherwise is, as I said, pure desperation.
Tony Williams
9   Posted 09/12/2008 at 13:49:05

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Peter, the theme that binds nearly all the questions you raise are about the fans... who the Government don?t care one iota for.

The process was called in, not because of Everton's involvement but because of the size of the retail park and its effect on business in neighbouring areas.

Q 1-4, here we go again. The ballot said "Are you in favour of moving to Kirkby?" Nothing more nothing less, so the authority was there and they didn?t need to ask for it anyway. Would you ask your local publican/shopkeeper if you could move home?
Pete clark
10   Posted 09/12/2008 at 15:20:29

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Question! Are the Board aware that they will go down in infamy amongst most Evertonians because you are not only taking us out of the city but clearly insulting our intelligence with this scandal?!

I think a few protests against the scheme will do it a lot of harm. Start with a banner along the Bullens Rd reading, "BILL..... I DON'T WANNA GO TO KIRKBY, I DON'T WANNA GO TO SPEKE. I ONLY WANNA WATCH THE TEAM IN BLUE FROM A MODERNISED GWLADYS STREET".

EJ Ruane
11   Posted 09/12/2008 at 15:09:31

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The questions are good Peter.

The problem comes with not only if they’re answered, but HOW.

While looking at the pre-enquiry doc, there is - under Nature and format of evidence - a line that says..

"All those wishing to give evidence, should produce a proof of evidence...blah blah"

Key word - evidence (nb: just to be clear, that’s NOT guesswork or ’a hunch’ or a feeling or an ’educated’ guess).

After I’d read it, I imagined myself a 70’s teacher and Everton FC a lad talking about a subject he hadn’t revised for.

I mentally gripped his sideez and screamed "YOU’RE WAFFLING LAAAAD - I WANT FACTS!"

With this in mind, can anyone attending, not only make sure Peter’s questions get answers, but also make sure the following TOTAL GUESSWORK, WISHFUL-THINKING, BOLLOCKS AND WAFFLE from Everton FC does not go unnoticed or unchallenged..

The following comes from ’Proof of Evidence’ of Robert Elstone Everton Football Club Company Limited.

My objections to these ’points’ are below, each one in shouty caps (anyone at SFX in the early 70’s can put Mr Blackhursts woolyback voice in).

Everton: 10.3.2 DTZ7 conservatively estimate that an annual total of 28 sporting events are likely to be held at Kirkby, comprising 22 Everton home games and 6 other sporting events (for example Under 21 internationals, rugby league or union matches, boxing matches etc.). An extended run in domestic cup competitions (FA Cup and League Cup), together with an extended campaign in European competition,
may lead to an increase in the number of matches held, with a theoretical total of up to 50 events being held.


Everton: 10.3.3 DTZ assume an average attendance per event of 44,000, which would deliver in excess of 1.2 million visitors to Kirkby. Additional matches would significantly increase these numbers.

’ASSUME’? - GUESSWORK! (and by the way, what happened to 50,000?)

Everton: 10.3.4 Visitors are likely to combine their visit with some form of expenditure, directly boosting the local economy.


Everton: Many football supporters combine attending matches with some form of social activity and Premier League research shows that the average fan on a matchday spends £11 over and above the cost of their matchday ticket.


Everton: Applying this per-capita expenditure to the additional visitor numbers suggests that the Kirkby would benefit by an estimated £13.6 million per year.


Everton: 10.3.5 Note the Club is confident that average attendances will comfortably exceed 44,000, hence resulting in local expenditure greater than £13.6 million.

’THE CLUB IS CONFIDENT’ - GUESSWORK! (nb: given many Goodison attending blues -ie: me - will never go there, where are the extra 15-20,000 coming from? - facts/evidence please!)

Everton: 10.3.6 Much of this expenditure is likely to take place within the Destination Kirkby project, although a proportion is likely take place in the surrounding area, benefiting existing businesses and potentially attracting new businesses into the area.


(and on and on and on and.....if it’s not guesswork, it’s just irrelevant).

Everton: 10.4.1 There is a symbiotic relationship between a football club and its community, and clubs are committed to continuing this relationship by delivering a range of benefits to their local
communities. Football clubs seek to place themselves at the heart of local communities and to embed themselves alongside other key delivery agents such as Government agencies, Local Authorities,
schools and the voluntary sector. As well as providing funding, clubs act as key hubs or agents in the delivery of community activities.

TRUE!...But if you are "committed to continuing
this relationship by delivering a range of benefits to local communities" - WHAT ABOUT YOUR COMMITMENT TO THE WALTON COMMUNITY?"

Everton: 10.4.2 Many clubs are situated in areas of socio-economic need. According to a recent report9, 64% of professional football and rugby league clubs are located within deprived neighbourhoods, while 68% of Premier League and 61% of Football League clubs are based in areas with significant minority ethnic populations.


Everton: 10.4.3 The kudos, emotional involvement and ?pulling power? of football clubs helps them to reach andmotivate otherwise hard to reach disadvantaged groups.


Everrton: 4.4.1 Clubs are thus potentially key agents of change, a role which they have taken increasingly seriously. I consider this role as a key part of the move to Kirkby.


Everton: 10.4.4 A total of 1.42 million participants were involved in Premier League clubs? community activities (Creating Chances) in 2007/08, the equivalent of over 70,000 participants per club. Football participation activities form around 80% of this total, however clubs have been increasingly involved in a broader range of initiatives addressing wider social objectives. In 2007/08, almost 200,000 of the participants took part in activities aimed at improving education, health, antisocial behaviour, or in anti racism activities. This represents a tremendous level of growth considering that ten years ago clubs? activities centred almost purely on delivering football participation activities.


Everton: 10.4.5 In addition to delivering activities and initiatives the clubs also provide other in kind contributions which support local organisations.
Clubs also commit significant staffing resources to deliver their community activities, and collectively employ over 400 full time equivalent dedicated community staff and over 1,000 qualified coaches in support of their community activities, an average of over 20 staff per club.


Everton: 10.4.6 Everton already takes its community responsibilities seriously. The move to the Kirkby Stadium presents a series of opportunities, both in terms of the stadium facilities provided and an opportunity to expand our community activities. Everton in the Community is the centrepiece of the club?s community activities and is profiled in
section 10.5 below.


Everton: 10.4.7 The new stadium is a facility that could be used as a key focus for Kirkby community activities. It will include facilities which can be used for meetings, conferences and more formal occasions and we would be proud to provide facilities, where available, to support these initiatives, either as a key stakeholder, or by providing facilities. 10.4.8 Stadium moves by other clubs have been combined with
effective community initiatives.


Seriously, anyone attending and/or speaking, if they get the chance, should jump all over this nonsense.

Guesswork should NOT pass for evidence.

(Elstone 0/10 SEE ME!)

Peter Howard
12   Posted 09/12/2008 at 16:34:14

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If I see a car accident and submit a statement saying I estimate that the vehicles were travelling at about 45mph is that not evidence?
Peter Cornwell
13   Posted 09/12/2008 at 23:06:08

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Peter Howard - you?re missing the point of the line of questions, when you suggest that they are not relevant to the issue to be decided upon by the inspector. Tesco apparently need the stadium to be included if the development is to be approved. However, the inspector needs to understand that football is a precarious business, and wholly different to normal retail businesses that I suspect she usually considers.

A football club?s financial well-being can be decimated by relegation. Invariably, its best players are sold, even if a club has moderate levels of debt. However, EFC will have accumulated debt levels of £110m at least.

In addition, it also runs the risk of alienating and losing forever its core support, which in itself vastly increases the risk of relegation. If relegation subsequently occurs then how can EFC possibly continue in existence with this level of debt? Quite simply, it cannot.

If that happens then the stadium, which is the subject of part of the application may lie empty and the enquiry needs to be aware of this. The issue is to establish, so that the inspector understands that this is an immense, irresponsible risk that is being taken by the Board of EFC.

If nothing else, one question needs to be put to a representative of the Everton Board: "If the stadium is built, taking account of the likely level of debt which will be incurred in the construction costs, can the club survive if it is relegated?"

Peter Howard
14   Posted 10/12/2008 at 15:31:23

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Peter C
So, in a nutshell :
" Madam, please don?t allow this development. Some efc fans think it will send the Club into insolvency and Kirkby will be left with an empty stadium".
EJ Ruane
15   Posted 12/12/2008 at 10:30:26

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Peter Howard, you say...

Peter C
So, in a nutshell:
"Madam, please don?t allow this development. Some EFC fans think it will send the Club into insolvency and Kirkby will be left with an empty stadium".

That is actually as good a reason as I?ve read ANYWHERE. (Erm... are you for or against?)
Peter Howard
16   Posted 12/12/2008 at 15:38:49

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Why ?
EJ ruane
17   Posted 13/12/2008 at 10:39:53

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Wh.....because Peter, an insolvent Everton and an empty ground in Kirkby would be considered bad things.

And bad is the opposite of?.....that’s right, good!

And we like good things don’t we.

Finally, could I just say hope Santa brings you (and indeed ALL under-fives) a lot of presents on his sleigh!
Peter Howard
18   Posted 15/12/2008 at 11:46:07

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My "why?" was in response to your question as to whether I?m for or against Kirkby. I was asking why (the clue is in that word) you wanted to know. Perhaps you can now answer.

I agree that an insolvent EFC would be a bad thing but my point is that that is not a relevent issue for the Inspector to consider. Even someone under five can see that. Thanks for the best wishes.

EJ Ruane
19   Posted 15/12/2008 at 15:17:54

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Peter - a tip. When responding to a single point, in a post that expresses more than one sentiment, it helps to be slightly more specific when asking ?why??. This can be achieved using ?regarding? (or the accepted abbreviation ?re?) followed by your specific point/question, eg: "Why... do you want to know if I?m for or against?" (As I say, just a tip - yours to do with as you please...)

So, as I NOWWWWW... know what your question was referring to - I?ll answer it. I wanted to know if you were for or against, simply because I saw a contradiction in your response to Peter Cornwell. Your snotty tone suggested you were ?for? the move (as he was/is against); however, the content and the valid points made in it, suggested (to me) ?against?.

(You: "Peter C. So in a nutshell ?Madam, please don?t allow this development. Some efc fans think it will send the Club into insolvency and Kirkby will be left with an empty stadium?").

As I stated initially, I think you put forward two very good reasons for not moving and although you don?t seem to think they?re ?relevant? to madam chair-person, I?d be interested in why you think an enquiry of this nature ? basically about a possible huge construction programme in Knowsley ? would find the building of a 50,000-seater stadium in that borough, that could end up empty, NOT relevant.

(Call it intuition, but something tells me in a selection-box debate - "Mars or Cadbury?" your vote would be for Nestlé....)
Peter Howard
20   Posted 15/12/2008 at 17:05:28

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Thanks for the tip ? I?ll remember to be more careful in future
The thing is, I was actually responding to your (single) question. As I say, that was obvious to an under five but as you?re not under five perhaps you didn?t understand.
Take a tip from me:- if you don?t understand a question, just ask. Did they not teach you that at SFX?

I didn?t put forward ANY reasons about a move. In my opinion the Inspector won? t be interested in EFC?s financial viability. I believe that to be the legal position.

EJ Ruane
21   Posted 16/12/2008 at 10:02:03

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Peter, I was thinking of responding with a lone ?why?? but I actually think when reading posts, you should take your own advice.

IE: You really SHOULD remember to be more careful in future (if there was an online 70?s teacher, there?d be an online blackboard-wiper just missing your ear, followed by a computery voice saying "YOU?RE NOT LISTENING LAAAAAAD!")

1) Fact: You DID put forward reasons why Everton should not move. The fact that you don?t agree with them, or that you don?t think they?re reasons, doesn?t make them ?not reasons? against a move.

Fact: They?re both reasons, YOU put them, I agree with them.

2) You say, "The thing is, I was actually responding to your (single) question".

Well... erm.... fine.

However, in my response, I DELIBERATELY didn?t say ?when responding to a question?.

If you READ what I wrote, I said ?when responding to a specific POINT? - and I repeat, there WERE more than one of those. (Oh, and a ?sentiment? is also NOT strictly a question).

3) Your big ?touché!? finish doesn?t quite work. You say, "I didn?t put forward ANY reasons about a move. In my opinion the Inspector won?t be interested in EFC?s financial viability. I believe that to be the legal position"

Tut tut - you see the thing is, if you?re going to come across all sarky, you can?t simply ignore the questions you don?t like....

EG: "I?d be interested in why you think an enquiry of this nature ? basically about a possible huge construction programme in Knowsley ? would find the building of a 50,000-seater stadium in that borough, that could end up empty, NOT relevant?" (remember that? a point YOU initially raised...)

Well of course you CAN ignore the question.... you can do as you please! But when you do, I?m entitled to think, hic puer est stultissimus omnium! (nb: They DID teach me that at SFX.)
Peter Howard
22   Posted 16/12/2008 at 12:31:30

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EJ, I didn?t put forward any reasons about the move, I merely encapsulated what the poster was, in my opinion, trying to convey to the Inquiry (it?s an "Inquiry" by the way ? not an "enquiry").

As I?ve said already, in my opinion the financial viability of EFC is an irrelevance to the issues to be decided. I don?t think it?s legally relevant. Others may disagree ? that?s their prerogative. Love the Latin ? do you do Ballroom as well?

EJ Ruane
23   Posted 16/12/2008 at 18:05:57

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Peter Howard
24   Posted 17/12/2008 at 09:43:20

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Why what ? (I thought you followed your own advice). By the way, see how simple it is to clarify a question you don?t understand.
EJ Ruane
25   Posted 17/12/2008 at 11:49:48

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