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One Wednesday in Kirkby

By Neil Adderley :  08/12/2008 :  Comments (35) :
Not unsurprisingly, detail of the cross-examination of the acting CEO of Everton FC; Robert Elstone, was lost, misplaced or disgregarded by the local press. Thankfully, there was someone who thought that Evertonians just might be interested in what exactly took place one Wednesday in Kirkby:

After lunch, the afternoon session began with Robert Elstone fielding questions from Colin Fitzpatrick on behalf of KEIOC.

Colin began by asking Robert Elstone to explain what was his previous involvement in the scheme prior to assuming responsibility. Robert Elstone explained that this involved the stadium search, the naming rights deal and he?d also had a major input into developing the business plan. Colin enquired further, ?after the sudden departure of Keith Wyness has there been any major changes to that business plan?? ?No? replied Robert Elstone.

Highlighting the statement in Robert Elstone?s proof of evidence concerning the identification of 13M Evertonians, Colin enquired how this figure related to other premiership clubs; Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Aston Villa and Newcastle. Robert Elstone replied that web traffic was a good method of estimation. Colin asked if they?d simply extrapolated the figure from this but Robert Elstone explained no, they used independent experts to identify it. He didn?t know the figures for other clubs.

Colin went on to explain that prior to relocating to their new stadium at Ashburton Grove, Arsenal had identified their worldwide fanbase as 15M which had been attributed to their constant participation in the Champions League and the winning if the Premiership and other cup competitions, ?What would you attribute Everton?s 13M fanbase to?? ?Heritage, tradition and family ties? reponded Robert Elstone. ?Do you know what Arsenal used this 15M figure for?? Asked Colin, ?No? replied Robert Elstone. Colin informed the inquiry that it was apparently used to secure their stadium naming rights deal.

Colin then asked, ?Emerging football finance guru Miss Amanda Staveley, owner of PCP Capital Partners, speaking on behalf of Middle Eastern Investment vehicles such as DIC and QIA [Qatar Investment Authority], you?re familiar with QIA?? Robert Elstone replied ?No, don?t know them.? Colin continued ?Ms Staveley has described English Premiership teams as ?the key provider of digital content on media platforms worldwide?. Does this have any significance to the aforementioned figure and would an identified large worldwide fanbase encourage potential owners of football clubs to buy into clubs that were on the market?? Robert Elstone replied, ?Our media assets are limited, they?re distributed by the Premier league.?

Turning to past investment, Colin asked Robert Elstone to confirm that recent investment in Goodison Park had been practically non-existent, Robert Elstone confirmed this was the case. ?Yet others, notably Manchester United, Aston Villa, Newcastle, Chelsea, Blackburn and Liverpool have invested in their current facilities have they not?"

?Yes, they have? responded Robert Elstone. ?In fact in para 3.6 you say that premiership clubs have invested £1.8 billion, by comparison, and just to confirm, how much have Everton invested in this same period (fourteen years)?? ?£13M over fourteen years, it's been modest, small investment in lounges and for safety reasons, investment in disabled areas, small last year, approximately £1.5M, including maintenance.?

?Why haven?t Everton invested in their stadium during this period and whom are the people responsible for this lack of investment?? asked Colin. ?There are constraints that Goodison Park presents, its footprint?..? Mrs Wendy Burden interjected ?I think the question is whom Mr Elstone, not what!? ?Well, the board, on the basis that they didn't have the facility to.?

?There?s a site favoured by many in the Scotland Road area; has the owner of the site attempted to meet with the club?? asked Colin, ?I?m not aware that he has? responded Robert Elstone. ?You?re aware that he?s spent £30,000 on a feasibility study that confirms that this site, adjacent to the city centre, is suitable for a 55,000-seat stadium?? Robert Elstone stated that it was not affordable or deliverable.

?Are you also aware that the site has the full backing of the council?? Mrs. Wendy Burden again interjected: ?This is a question for Mr. Potts.? Colin persisted ?Can you confirm that Everton have insisted in the past that there needs to be 500,000sq ft of enabling attached to any site?? Robert Elstone responded, ?No, we have confirmed that we need substantial support to deliver a new stadium.?

?Keith Wyness specifically mentioned a figure of 500,000sq ft, did he just pluck it out of the air?? Robert Elstone didn?t offer an answer, Colin continued, ?You know you?d never get that in Liverpool don?t you?? ?Yes I Know.? Colin persisted ?So is this to prevent other alternatives to Tesco?s proposals?? Robert Elstone chose not to offer a reply. Colin tried again ?Would you agree that this insistence is little more than a device to prevent the emergence of a viable alternative (to Tesco?s proposal) that would be located in Liverpool?? Robert Elstone; ?No.?

Colin next turned his attention to the subject of relocation. ?Are you aware that this isn?t the first time the club has attempted to relocate to the Kirkby area?? Robert Elstone confirmed that he was. ?The then chairman, Peter Johnson, advocated a relocation to Kirkby Golf Course, the second site was Gilmoss, just up the road from where we are and the final location was Cronton in South Knowsley, two miles away from Widnes town centre, in Cheshire. Are you aware of these failed plans?" Robert Elstone: ?Yes?.

Colin continued, ?The current chairman, Bill Kenwright, was opposed to this relocation away from Goodison Park was he not?? Robert Elstone: ?Bill's preference would be to Keep Everton In Our City.? Colin, ?I?d agree, in fact are you aware that he was so opposed to the idea of leaving Goodison Park that he gave a substantial financial donation to the supporters group opposed to the move at the time?? Robert Elstone replied ?No.?

Colin pushed on; ?I appreciate that he?s now the chairman but why is he now so keen to relocate to Kirkby and what has changed??

?The financial circumstances have changed for clubs in this league, this is now viable and deliverable, one that was unique? offered the CEO. ?You also know that Everton attempted to relocate to the Kings Dock on Liverpool?s waterfront, why did this fail?? ?Complexity of the scheme and rising costs, the risks were too great.? Colin challenged this by asking ?Everton told LCC that their £30M contribution was ring-fenced didn?t they?? Robert Elstone replied, ?All I know is the costs were increasing.?

Returning to Goodison Park, Colin now asked ?Are you aware that at the time of the first proposed relocation to Kirkby a study by Ward McHugh Associates, designers of Twickenham, indicated an ultimate capacity of 55,000 (through extending the footprint of Goodison) could be achieved? Yet you claim in para 7.2.2 that a redeveloped Goodison could now only have a maximum capacity of 36,000, how is this?? ?Based on the advice I've been given, yes? responded Robert Elstone

. ?This report was paid for by a supporters group after being told by the then chairman that Everton had in their possession a report stating that they could only redevelop Goodison Park to a smaller capacity than it currently held at that time, it was later admitted that no such report existed? stated Colin. ?Not aware? was all that Robert Elstone was prepared to say.

Colin continued; ?This latest report is lower than the current capacity is it not? Who produced this report?? Robert Elstone replied ?We have consistently looked at if (the redevelopment) is doable, it's highly risky and highly expensive. We revisited it before the EGM, a fresh look. No agenda. That work suggested that the club couldn't redevelop.?

?What was the scope of this latest report, the one indicating a redevelopment figure of 36,000? What were the terms of reference?? Robert Elstone explained ?One: what can be done on the existing site for a modern stadium, two, can we extend the footprint and three, what can we achieve with £78m. KSS got to £50m without added hospitality. We could go to 44,000 for £71m."

Colin; ?You say in para 3.7 that Everton?s inability to invest in its stadium has resulted in the club being at a competitive disadvantage to other clubs do you not?? ?Yes.? Colin continued, ?Yet during this period of time Everton has enjoyed above average attendances but they?ve been unable to follow what other clubs have done?? ?We haven't been able to invest due to shape of site.?

Colin pressed further; ?Would it be fair to say that the situation Everton find themselves in, you describe it in para 3.5 as ?the deficiencies of Goodison Park? and the apparent inability to afford the redevelopment or construction of a new stadium is primarily a consequence of the failure of successive owners of Everton to invest in their Stadium?? Robert Elstone; ?Restrictions of site have made investments impractical and unworthwhile.?

Colin, returning to investment asked, ?In the main, highly successful business people typically own these Premiership clubs, how do these owners obtain a return on their investment?? In a bizarre reply for a chartered accountant, Robert Elstone told the inquiry ?In a variety of ways: emotion, profile, status.? A clearly confused Colin put the question another way, ?would you agree that they take the long view, that they?ll obtain their return when they sell their club?? ?There is evidence of substantial capital growth in the Premier League.?

Obtaining the accountants answer he wanted Colin went on to ask ?You indicate that Everton have failed to invest in their revenue generator, their stadium, would it be a fair observation to state that the current board have never invested a single penny in the club?? Robert Elstone answered honestly, ?Yes, that's true, so when they sell, that's a return.?

Now once again changing quickly to finance Colin asked ?This asset utilization and disposal plan that has been adopted by the board, it can?t be sustained forever can it?? ?No? came the reply. ?It?s inherently unsustainable, won?t the assets run out and the loan repayments overwhelm the clubs ability to provide sufficient funds to obtain better players?? ?We have a highly qualified finance team and a good relationship with the bank. That wouldn't be allowed to happen? replied Robert Elstone.

?The lack of available funding clearly indicates that a change is needed? continued Colin, ?we can completely understand the need to become facility led. One would assume that improvements in the Stadium would, if correctly managed, lead to increased revenue streams from ticket sales, increased ticket prices that reflect the better amenities available, increased catering, hospitality and corporate sales and higher commercial and merchandise revenue, this is what you?re after is it not?? ?In broad principles, yes? replied the CEO.

Now moving on to the site of the proposed stadium Colin, somewhat mischievously asked Robert Elstone, ?This criteria, Available, Suitable, Accessible, Viable and Deliverable, was this developed by Everton or was it borrowed from Tesco? It seems to be for a supermarket and retail park development?? Robert Elstone replied, ?Seems sensible to me, I?m not aware that it's a Tesco plan.?

?The reason I ask is that in many people?s eyes this location doesn?t meet the stated criteria, does it in your opinion?? ?It does? ?We?ll agree that it?s available, Knowsley have bent over backwards to accommodate you, some would say forwards but as for being suitable it's a park on a former tip with class one and two waste isn?t it?? ?We have engaged with experts who say the site is possible.? Replied Elstone.

Colin came back again, ?Do you know if the site is going to be excavated or compacted?? ?Don't know.? Said Elstone. ?So that'll be an additional cost?? ?Our advisors will have costed this.? ?Even if they don?t know if it?s to be compacted or excavated?? ?It?s been costed.?

?The stadium was originally described as a 55,000-seat stadium but was capped at 50,401 in this application; do you believe that a town of 42,000 after experiencing an influx and rapid departure of 50,000 supporters over a four-hour period, would agree to a 20% increase in capacity?? ?Yes, ask Mr. Ellis of SDG.?

?Would you agree that this proposed stadium has clear and apparent access issues? In paragraph 7.1.3 you describe access as critical, yet you?re so concerned with access issues you?ve borrowed another tactic from Tesco and you?ve set up your own transport group, haven?t you?? ?Yes? Elstone agreed, ?we have set up a group.?

?Do you agree that Evertonians of all ages should me made to walk up to 45mins, queue for buses that may or may not be available or wait in pens for over one hour and a half before being ?crush loaded? onto trains?? Colin received no reply so he pushed on, ?Have you considered that the old and the infirm will be the slowest to exit the stadium so, being last to arrive at the bus or coach facilities, they will wait the longest. I?m amazed that anyone would claim that this criterion has been met??

At this point, Mr. Patrick Clarkson QC, acting for Tesco, perhaps wishing to protect his witness, interrupted and pointed out that these were matters for SDG and that Mr. Fitzpatrick had been so informed. Mrs. Wendy Burden agreed that it was a matter for another witness. Colin protested, ?Madam, I appreciate what you?re saying but I would point out that I?m asking the CEO as we?re talking about his customers here.? Mrs. Burden reinforced her point.

Colin continued ?When it comes to viability the cross subsidy is clearly available, have we decided if it?s still coming from the critical mass of retail or is it now being provided by another source such as the value of the land provided by Knowsley and purchased by Tesco?? ?Yes? responded Robert Elstone.

Colin went on to ask ?We?re sitting in a public inquiry surrounded by neighbouring authorities citing significant departures from a whole host of planning policies, how can you say that this is deliverable, Isn?t it the case that three of the qualifying criteria are clearly unsatisfied Or is two out of five acceptable?? Robert Elstone: ?We believe it is deliverable.?

Now switching to the ability of the stadium, Colin asked: ?What research have you conducted to assure and confirm that this figure can be obtained?? Robert Elstone replied ?We've looked at the volume of ticket buyers and the dispersion of the fan base. 75% are within 12 miles of Kirkby. We will also be working on new marketing programmes.?

Colin continued, ?You?ve previously told me and shareholders that Goodison generates £800,000 of revenue everytime it opens it gates?? ?Yes.? ?Does this figure include everything? Ticket sales, catering, hospitality?? ?Yes.? ?So you could say that over the course of a nineteen-game Premiership season and three additional cup competition games, on the basis that an average attendance of 37,000 generates 800,000 per event an increase of 10,000 would generate an additional £5m per season and a further £1m from the six additional events as outlined in para 10.3.2?? ?That information is confidential.? ?But it?s confirmed in a letter from Deloitte, Dan Jones stated from our work with the club to date on its business plan we understand the annual potential business to the club of the new stadium is of the order of £6M? ?Robert Elstone replied ?That?s profit not revenue.?

?And just to confirm? Colin asked, ?this figure is based on a target of 47,000?? ?Yes? was Robert Elstone?s reply. Colin then asked; ?What research have you undertaken to prove that you can fill the stadium?? Robert Elstone replied that he had responded to this earlier in the day when he gave details of ticket sales analysis. ?In para 8.1.8 you tell the inquiry that Everton conducted a ballot in 2007, what was the result?? ?Other schemes were mentioned at the time and we got 60%? answered Elstone. ?40% of your customers were against this?? ?Yes.? ?Has there been some unrest since this?? Robert Elstone laughed and said ?you could say that, yes.?

?You say in para 8.4.4 that Everton has a pool of 60,000 matchgoing supporters, 25,000 season ticket holders and 35,000 that you describe as active buyers, is that correct?? ? No, 30,000 had held a season ticket over the last three years, a further 60,000 individuals had attended at least one game? ?So, you?re now saying there are 90,000? Most match going Evertonians weren't given the vote, but you?re now expecting them to flock to Kirkby? Why where they not included?? ?We canvassed the most active? was the CEO?s response.

Colin continued ?Have you surveyed the fanbase since the ballot to ascertain if their feelings towards Kirkby have changed?? ?No? came the reply. ?Why haven?t you done this? Is it because some people are alleging that the club and Sir Terry Leahy misled the fans and that the result of any survey would be detrimental to your claim surrounding a mandate?? ?I don't think it prejudiced the ballot? responded Robert Elstone. At this point an attempt to refer to material surrounding Keith Wyness and Terry Leahy was challenged by Mr. Patrick Clarkson and upheld by the planning Inspector.

Colin, dropped that particular line of questioning and began a new attack; ?Other clubs have elected to follow the relocation route in a bid to increase their stadium derived revenue, Arsenal have already relocated to a 60,000 seat stadium Ashburton Grove, around the corner from their traditional Highbury home. Tottenham are building a 60,000 seat stadium next door to White Hart Lane, West Ham are hoping to relocate to a new ground in the east end of London and our nearest and dearest across the park; Liverpool, are attempting to build a 60,000 seat stadium in Stanley Park next to their ground at Anfield. Can you tell me Robert what was Arsenal's season ticket waiting list before their move?? Robert Elstone; ?Not sure.?

Colin; ?It was 20,000, what?s Tottenham?s?? Elstone again;?Not sure, it's substantial, 28,000?? ?It?s 22,000 and West Ham is 8,000, no laughing, what?s Liverpool?s?? This time it was Robert Elstone who asked the question; ?Go on?? ?It?s 65,000 according to their website, it probably includes 32,000 Norwegians but none the less it?s substantial. What?s Everton?s?? ?We don't have one,? replied Elstone, before claiming that ?Other clubs have filled stadia without waiting lists.? ?Really?? Asked Colin. ?Bolton, Middlesbrough and Sunderland prior to the development of their new grounds didn?t but that the new stadiums were filled after the completion of the development.? ?Really??

Colin pressed on. ?As the person responsible for delivering commercial growth, principally via filling the stadium at higher yields, as confirmed by you in para 1.2, could you describe what measures you will employ to overcome the loss of the new stadium effect?? The CEO answered, ?We will work with the local community.?

What?s happening to Goodison?s attendances at the moment, where are they in relation to last seasons 37,000?? ?As I said earlier??.? Came the reply.

Colin once more changed tack. ?While I remember, at lunchtime I was sat with three other Evertonians, between the four of us we had over two hundred years of attendance at Goodison yet not one of us had ever heard of the 53% figure for obstructed views that you mention in para 5.3.11. When was this introduced? For the inquiry?? Robert Elstone explained; ?It?s been there forever. It's not a figure I was familiar with though.?

Colin continued ?Do you discount all of these tickets?? ?No? replied Elstone. ?Thought not,? said Colin, before continuing; ?you go on to say in para 8.4.4 that Goodison Park only has 3, 500 obstructed view seats, which is it, 3,500 or 21,000?? ?It's clear in the application. 17,000 obstructed, 3,500 can't see the goal mouth.? Colin clearly wouldn?t let this go, ?so that I?m clear here, it?s a 40,000 seat stadium and we have 25,000 season tickets, you?re telling me that we have 6,000 season tickets holders who have paid for seats with obstructed views?? ?Absolutely? said Elstone, ?yes.?

?Returning to demonstrating future demand,? Colin continued, ?have you conducted a survey of match going Evertonians as to what their requirements are?? Elstone was clear; ?No.?

?The route Everton has elected to take, relocation, rather than redevelopment, how successful has it been for other clubs?? ?Arsenal, Sunderland, Man. City, Bolton they?re all successful.? ?Really? Table 8.2 lists all the new stadia constructed since 1992, do you know what the combined average attendance is for these stadia? Elstone was again clear; ?No.? ?It?s 77%,? replied Colin, ?that would mean an attendance figure of 38,000, that wouldn?t be good would it?? Elstone was in no doubt; ?No.?

Colin asked ?What steps have you taken to ensure Everton will be nearer Arsenal?s attendance than Sunderland?s?? Mr Patrick Clarkson once again interrupted saying that this was old ground.

Colin started again ?In section 8.4 you list the financial benefits of moving to Kirkby, you claim that you?ll achieve substantially increased ticketing revenue, I think we?ve established that this may not be the case. You next claim that corporate hospitality sales will improve. You appear to be doing what you?ve done with the stadium here, you?re putting forward a build it and they will come plan. What evidence have you got that people will flock to the new corporate facilities at Kirkby, what research have you done, have you surveyed people?? ?None, that I know of? was Elstone?s reply.

?Are the current hospitality facilities at Goodison over subscribed?? ?No not all of them.? Said Elstone. ?How many lounges are there?? ?Eleven.? ?And how many are under-subscribed?? ?Nine.? ?So the vast majority then?

?The marquee, does it sell out on a regular basis?? ?Irregularly.? Replied Elstone. Colin asked ?Why?? ?It's a poor facility in a poor location, you have to walk across the car park.? ?But it?s true Liverpool wanted to use it as they have too many guests to cope with at Anfield?? ?Yes? said Elstone. ?Would this have brought money to a club with limited funds?? ?Yes? confirmed the CEO. ?Who prevented it going ahead?? ?The board didn't like it.?

Colin continued; ?So Liverpool could fill it but we can?t?? Again, Elstone agreed; ?Yes.? ?Despite telling all and sundry how poor the facilities are could you just tell me how good the hospitality is at Goodison?? ?It?s the bottom of the league? said Elstone, ?the parking facilities are poor, like I said earlier?

Mr Clarkson again felt the need to interrupt proceedings, claiming that this had been covered by other people, Colin remained firm ?Madam I have a point to make, it hasn?t been covered.?

?So these are poor are they? Can you confirm that they are in fact award winning services, didn?t they win the directors choice award when the opposition was Arsenal, Newcastle and Chelsea amongst others?? Robert Elstone explained ?that was just for directors hospitality.? ?No it wasn?t, the club also won a Certificate of Achievement award for the overall hospitality experience.? ?That was just for service??.? ?Let me read out the examination criteria ?PARKING, SIGNAGE & WELCOME, FOOD QUALITY & STANDARDS OF SERVICE?

Colin continued; ?So can I ask you again, why, is it that Everton can?t sell these award winning services and can you demonstrate that you will in Kirkby?? Robert Elstone responded, ?The Marquee arose out of surplus demand but the quality has deteriorated. The majority of our buyers are Evertonians, currently 75% of hospitality members were fans of the Club, we don't benefit from neutral corporates.?

Colin once again changed tack: ?Does location play any part in this conundrum? Wasn?t it Konrad Hilton that once said the three most important things for a hotel are location, location, location does this not apply to a football club?? Robert Elstone replied ?I don't believe it will have a significant impact?

?Won?t being nine miles from Liverpool City Centre provide an extra challenge to the management team at Everton?? Colin asked, before continuing; ?What research have you conducted, have you surveyed the fans, the bulk of which live in Liverpool, Wirral and North Wales, on if they will make the extra journey that will prove very time consuming due to congestion?? ?Don?t Know? replied Elstone, before asking ?is Kirkby five miles from Goodison?? ?Yes, it?s not me that saying it, it?s the RAC, the average distance a premiership club is from their major center is 2.6 miles, Bolton is 5.5 you?re proposing taking Everton 9 miles.?

Colin then explained that he wanted to close by asking some questions on Everton?s ability to pay. Colin asked, ?First the securitisation of a stadium naming rights deal. Can you just describe how these deals are structured? Are there various elements such as a basic award and then bonus performance related payments? Which element is securitizable?? Robert Elstone; ?It depends on the partner, brands won't commit without planning permission.?

?Where are Everton with their deal, you said it would be concluded in December and here we are, what?s the status?? A smiling Robert Elstone explained, ?It?s delayed.? ?Why?? ?Because it requires a stadium!? ?Was Mr Wyness correct when he said Everton are expecting £25M?? ?Don't want to put target figure in public domain? said Elstone. ?He?s already stated this last year, it?s already in the public domain and there?s no change of business plan.?

Once again Colin, ?It was originally stated that Everton would receive £15M for Goodison, would you say that this is optimistic, what are the land values in Walton?? ?We have targets? replied Elstone ?and are confident about delivering the funding mix.?

Colin moved to the sale of Bellefield, ?The sale of Bellefield, do you still believe that you?ll obtain £8M or have you revised your estimate? I?d be amazed if we?re not looking at finding approx £45M through the last two methods? Robert Elstone responded ?None of the sources are guaranteed. We can raise the money at the right time.? Colin informed the CEO that ?this isn?t what Everton?s barrister told the inquiry in Liverpool into Bellefield.?

?To bring this all together it would appear to many, and I must say I?m even more convinced that this is not right for Everton. Would you agree that what we have here is a scheme that nobody knows the true cost of, that nobody knows if the fans will travel to Kirkby, that nobody is completely certain where the money is coming from and that all the indications are that it is being promoted as something it isn?t; that is a long term cash generator that will be beneficial to Everton Football Club? Didn?t Everton have to prove to Knowsley that they have the funds?? Robert Elstone responded, ?I?m not aware that KMBC asked if Everton had the money.? ?Really?? Asked Colin. Robert Elstone said ?Yes.?

Colin closed with ?Everton have a wish list of methods to raise funds, how much money from that list has been secured to date?? Robert Elstone answered ?Nothing.? ?You?re saying you haven?t got a penny?? ?No.? ?Isn?t it the case that this was little more than a Trojan horse that was originally promoted as the means to deliver an inappropriately sized supermarket and retail park and that on close inspection it would appear to have the capability of transforming into yet another of Kirkby?s infamous white elephants.? ?No? replied Robert Elstone, ?I believe the main beneficiaries are our children.

Colin thanked Robert Elstone and Mrs Burden, Mrs Pethard from the Grange then took over the questioning, her first question concerned the possibility of concerts being given planning permission in the future, contrary to the current planning application. Robert Elstone explained that he was unaware of that condition being removed in the future.

Mr Clarkson then took the opportunity, as is his right, to cover any of the points that he felt needed some clarification.

We Interviewed Colin at the close of the inquiry he explained ?It was a lot tougher than I imagined, Robert Elstone was a very credible witness who put on a good performance but I thought we scored a few points.? He came over for a friendly chat afterwards, there was no animosity, irrespective of the inquiry we?ll be taking up a few of our concerns particularly surrounding the future performance of a new stadium in Kirkby!

The KEIOC campaign would like to thank the donator who came forward at the end of the day and presented the campaign with a cheque for £500.',cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=201&cntnt01returnid=15

Reader Comments

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Rich Jones
1   Posted 09/12/2008 at 08:27:07

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All BK apologists, please read this and if you have any common sense youll see exactly what's going on. We?re being railroaded down this route with no study of where we?ll benefit, just empty soundbites about increased attendances and sold out corporate facillities, while Mr cleanhands because you gave him the mandate can sit back and wait for his big payday.
Jay Campbell
2   Posted 09/12/2008 at 09:02:29

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Well said Rich.

Kenwright is a traitor and a liar.
Ciarán McGlone
3   Posted 09/12/2008 at 10:14:43

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Interesting that there was no report from that day on the official site..even thought they?d done the previous day... gangsters.
Nick Entwistle
4   Posted 09/12/2008 at 12:21:43

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"Knowsley have bent over backwards to accommodate you, some would say forwards..."

Colin Malone
5   Posted 09/12/2008 at 13:03:48

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Its great to have you on board, Colin. It shows it's not a transparent inquiry by the media.This alone needs to be addressed. We are supposed to be living in a demorcratic society, so why are we getting only getting the clubs side in the press?

Again, thanks Colin. You're a diamond.
Jay Harris
6   Posted 09/12/2008 at 14:13:33

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I just hope Richard Dodd and Neil Pearse read this one. It goes a long way to proving that Kirkby is just a scam and the supporters don't matter. Well done, Neil, for posting, and well done, Colin, for an excellent performance.

Rich Jones
7   Posted 09/12/2008 at 14:50:49

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But Neil Pearce believes that moving to Kirkby will help us get rid of Blue Bill and that is his justifaction for supporting it! You really couldn't make it up ? he doesn't think that loosing our identity, history, and half our fan base is worth considering... it really takes my breath away that such Evertonians exist.
David Collins
8   Posted 09/12/2008 at 17:14:44

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Well done, Colin, I appreciate your effort and if anyone still thinks Kirkby is the best option for OUR football club then god help yer.
Alan Kirwin
9   Posted 09/12/2008 at 19:56:34

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An excellent report.

I believe Kenwright is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Leaving Kirkby to one side for a moment and looking at option Goodison.

It is currently the 2nd worse ground in the EPL, after Portsmouth. The Park End is the only part that could be retained. That leaves 3 sides (minimum) to be re-designed & rebuilt. One of those 3 sides (Main Stand) is massively restricted. Thus a rebuild in situ is totally impractical.

Thus we?d have to be looking at moving the footprint to accommodate a full ground. The upheaval this would create is unimaginable. Even assuming the club got planning permission, it would decimate the stadium and the immediate area for a very long time. We?d lose huge numbers of fans & revenue in the process, as well as atmosphere.

And even assuming that we all decided we didn?t mind that upheaval, some fucker has to pay for it. Oh that it was possible, but how?

As for Kirkby, I can actually see why the club was taken in by the prospect to deliver a new stadium at (apparently) a heavy discount. But the devil as ever is in the detail and the detail (from Colin?s forensic scrutiny) doesn?t smell too sweet.

Slagging off Kenwright is, to my mind, missing the point and hitting an easy target. We have lived beyond our means for a long time and are forever trying to square the circle. We are now regarded as a top 6 club, although our attendances are about 10th. How did we get to the stage, after finishing 7th, 4th, 6th & 5th where most clubs have waiting lists for season tickets and we have none?

In all this crap, it also beholds Evertonians to look at themselves. Too many hold on to this idea of us being an elite club and that Nil Satis Nisi Optimum is a literal maxim for us all. The reality is that we are on a slide and something is needed to break that slide sooner rather than later. Kenwright was led to believe that Kirkby offered the quickest, easiest & most affordable solution. I think for the right reasons, albeit with indecent haste & stubbornness.

Whatever the context, it seems it will all end in tears, and probably in Kirkby...
Rich Jones
10   Posted 09/12/2008 at 20:47:12

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Oh I see, Alan, so Kenwright has been misled by the club too!! Absoluntly astounding logic there, Alan. How does that work then he employs people at £400k per year to not only mislead the fans but to mislead himself?

Like I say, it really takes my breath away that we have such foolish fans amongst us. You'll be telling us next that he was pissed in a bar with Knowsley councillors before signing the exclusivety agreement.

Jay Campbell
11   Posted 09/12/2008 at 22:23:15

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Alan - Kenwright’s been on the board for nearly 20 years and has allowed this situation to happen because he has done fuck all about it in that time.
Alan Kirwin
12   Posted 09/12/2008 at 23:39:20

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I don’t understand your assertions. You’re clearly a Kenwright hater, but my only reference was that he may have been led (by Tesco/Leahy) into believing Kirkby represented the quickest & most affordable way of Everton climbing the ladder.

Perhaps you should re-read what I actually said before making such sweeping criticisms. And it’s OK to disagree.
David O'Keefe
13   Posted 10/12/2008 at 00:39:20

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Kenwright was easily led!! A chairman of a EPL football club was duped, conned, led up the primose path by Leahy? If this is the only defence that BK?s apologists can enter, then I am worried.

At least his detractors/critics attribute to him some intellect and low cunning. Bill is a succesful businessman (in theatre, if not football) and knows a good deal when he sees it.
Rich Jones
14   Posted 10/12/2008 at 00:38:35

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Hate is a strong word, Alan. If I?m honest I admire him because people will come up with all kinds of scenarios, rather than believe that this guy might just be thinking of himself before Everton. Bearing in mind you could be talking of 10s of millions of pounds here.
Dave Johnson
15   Posted 10/12/2008 at 03:00:50

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Alan Kirwin, your defence of BK might have stood up if he hadn't tried to make out it was more heavilly discounted than it actually is. I think the term they used was "effectively free".

To be honest, the location worries me more than the lies and the fake mandate. On the plus side, you do say the detail doesnt smell too sweet but please dont make out Bill is a poor fan trying his best and being duped by big bad Tesco. The man is a liar and is probably lying because he has something to hide.

I backed the fella when he first took over. I believed his bullshit about just being a fan who would step aside as soon as someone with more financial clout turned up. Chris Samuelson was bollocks. Keith Harris is bollocks and superimposing the Emirates onto the Goodison footprint was bollocks.

How desparate have we Evertonians become? Why do so many believe this utter bollocks?? Is it because he's scared us into thinking there are no alternatives???

He saved us from Johnson, I hear you cry. He loves Everton. Well Adolf Hittler loved Germany but he still fucking ruined it. He's not even a fucking good liar but he's getting away with it. BILLY BOLLOCKS!

Neil Pearse
16   Posted 10/12/2008 at 07:26:29

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Mainly just personal abuse and anger from you again Rich, which is a shame. And questioning the credentials of fellow Evertonians like myself. Again, a shame that you go down to this level.

Like Alan I think, I believe that Everton are in a very tight spot and do not have any very good choices at the moment given our financial constraints. We are way off currently being able to afford anything that would satisfy our ?nil satis? motto, and that is the unfortunate reality. Simply denying this reality will get us nowhere. Kenwright and previous owners of the club absolutely share the responsibility for landing us in this predicament.

I do not think that Kirkby is a dream move for our club. Of course it isn?t. The question is whether, in the difficult circumstances we are in, it is better than actually possible alternatives. Kings Dock would of course have been what we all would have loved, but that one was screwed up. I do believe that Kirkby will increase the revenues of the club over time and that it will make us more attractive to a new owner (that?s the replacing Kenwright bit).

I don?t believe that moving to Kirkby will destroy the fan base, destroy our history etc etc. Very many of your fellow Evertonians don?t believe that either, Rich. The club and its history and its fans are stronger than you seem to think.

As again I have always said, the element that worries me the most is the transport and the access, and it seems that that is worrying the club the most too. That obviously needs to be solved somehow.

My favoured option by far is a ground share on Stanley Park. Unfortunately, the powers that be in the two clubs lack the foresight and the courage to bring this about. Especially in the current economic environment, I think it will be seen as the height of folly if two large new stadiums are built on Merseyside.
Christine Foster
17   Posted 10/12/2008 at 06:33:44

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Gentlemen please.. time out.

Neil & Colin, thank you for detailing actual comments rather than the sanitised versions I have been reading on the OS. It's clearer than ever that this scheme was run without anything but lip service to alternatives. I would not say Elstone lied because factually he may not have actually been involved in the actual conversations. BUT somewhere in Goodison park are the letters, the emails and minutes of conversations with Bestway, Tesco, LCC... the list goes on and unless there is a whistle blower we will never know.

So, to Colin, well said sir. To the directors, when Kirkby is thrown out will you resign? I doubt it.

Who will face the questions then?

"I?m Just a fan" no you're not. You're our chairman. A chairman who stands to make a killing when he sells on the back of Kirkby.

A chairman who for nigh on twenty years stood by as Goodison declined and did nothing.

"Watch this space" ? Look into my eyes, look into my eyes...

Come on, Doddy, put your head above the trench. Tell us again how wonderful our leaders are...
Rich Jones
18   Posted 10/12/2008 at 08:10:43

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Hmm Neil, I've looked back I can't actually see any personal abuse, a few generalizations maybe of the Yes camp, I suppose... Once again though, Neil, you say you believe it won't affect our fan base. I can point to a fanbase that is already dwindling and the fact that 10,000 people said No. FACTS, Neil!!!
Neil Pearse
19   Posted 10/12/2008 at 08:33:39

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Rich - fine, let’s bury the hatchet on the personal comments. On the fanbase, the reality is (as Colin Fitzpatrick lays out in his excellent recently posted article), none of us really know.

How many people will go to Kirkby depends on a whole range of factors, including the general state of the economy, the success of the team on the pitch (very important), and of course the transport and access issues. Personally I believe that so long as the team is doing at all well, the loyalty of Everton fans is such that they will still follow the team in KIrkby. It’s okay to disagree about this!
Rich Jones
20   Posted 10/12/2008 at 09:14:42

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Okay then, Neil, I'll just deal with facts shall I? There are 436,000 people within the city of Liverpool ? our home for the last 130 years. 10,000 voted No ? of those allowed to vote. Where we're planning to go, Kirkby, has a population of 42,000 10% of the population of the city we?re leaving... Would you accept(urely regarding attendance) that these facts would support the theory that we will have less fans going to the game after the new stadium effect has worn off?
Neil Pearse
21   Posted 10/12/2008 at 09:30:15

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Of course not Rich, unless people in the Merseyside area are going to need passports to get into Kirkby to go to the game! The population of Kirkby is completely irrelevant, since the club’s catchment area is obviously far bigger than that.
Rich Jones
22   Posted 10/12/2008 at 09:51:30

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Would you accept that down the years Tranmere also have had access to this wider area too Neil. But have suffered because they’e not in the middle of it and are less successful than there counterparts Everton and Liverpool.
Tom Hughes
23   Posted 10/12/2008 at 09:37:15

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If built, DK WILL be the worst served major stadium in the UK. In the city with the lowest car ownership in the country on a site with next to NO parking. Yopu’re right, we don’t know how things will work out, but we are allowed to make judgements, and I can’t see any logic that supports increased support at Kirkby..... or anything close. Would be interested to see you extract any positive indicators from it apart from speculation based on NOTHING quite frankly. When Manchester was bidding for the Olympics, especially in comparison with London the biggest stumbling blocks was the public transport. Comparsions were made with Manchester United Old trafford having 25-30,000 passengers per hr (before the trams) compared to Wembley of over 100k, as are several stadium sites in London. They said the cost to match this in manchester was literally tens of Billions. Kirkby is approximately just 5k per hour. Similarly, the cost to affect those changes that will ever give Kirkby even comparable infrastructure/capacity to Walton (as regards to Evertonian convenience) can never be met and exceed that of the whole project by a margin.
Arthur Jones
24   Posted 10/12/2008 at 10:13:19

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Just to add to what Tom has just said, how many of you have tried to drive the short distance along Valley Road between 4 - 6 pm on any average evening? It?s horrible, the traffic lights on the Copplehouse Lane junction help but it has it?s fair share of accidents and if only a small colision occurs the tailback can go as far as Fazakerley Comp. This is without the proposed retail and Stadium development. There will be chaos, I?ve absolutely no doubt .
Neil Pearse
25   Posted 10/12/2008 at 11:40:36

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Rich, Tranmere is not a reasonable comparison. They have never had our history or fanbase, we actually do now play in the Premiership etc. etc..

Tom, I agree that the major argument for me against Kirkby is around transport and access. The absolute size of Kirkby itself is irrelevant, the distance from the city centre would be fine with good access, and being just over a historically moving city boundary makes no odds ultimately.

I am absolutely concerned that there is not yet a credible plan for transport and access. This is the one thing which makes me question whether Kirkby is a good enough option (I have never thought it was a great option).

Of course I would rather we built our own world class ground on Stanley Park, or had secured King’s Dock, wouldn’t we all? But you can’t have something in life just because you want it.
Rich Jones
26   Posted 10/12/2008 at 13:42:59

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Yeah but we were 99% certain we’d be playing there by 2007, as someone told us and apparently the money of £30,000 was ring-fenced but this wasnt there in the end.
Rich Jones
27   Posted 10/12/2008 at 13:48:07

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Ok then, Neil, I?ve had my go with resonable facts and figures, now this feeling that you have about increased fan base and revenue can you tell us what has given you this feeling or is it a "it'll be alright on the night" type of attitude.
Neil Pearse
28   Posted 10/12/2008 at 17:20:15

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I guess part of my answer Rich is: why not? As I’ve said, the biggest reason I can see why not is the transport and access issues (if not adequately solved). Yes, that could certainly depress attendances.

But apart from that there should be at least an initial positive effect from a new stadium (Colin F suggests as much if I read him right), and arguably some positive ongoing effect from the better facilities, views etc..

I think a big factor frankly will be how the team is doing on the pitch. If at least as well as now, I cannot see any obvious reason why support would fall. I simply do not believe that being just across the city boundary in the end will make much difference, but I understand that others see this differently.

Revenue should certainly go up as long as attendances do not fall because of increases from corporate facilities and more general entertainment revenues (bars, shops etc.). Also the average price per seat will no doubt go up, especially with the absence of restricted views.

IF people can adequately get there and the team is playing decently (and the economy hasn’t generally collpsed) - then revenues will pretty obviously go up. Again, the major concern is access.
Jonathan Ashton
29   Posted 10/12/2008 at 19:38:21

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Worrying to read the level of detail that Everton’s CEO DOESN’T know about the club’s most important project. I don’t think he’s been one of the better witnesses, though a very important one.

CEOs don’t generally have a great command of detail, though, their jobs aren’t like that. They take decisions on limited information on basic principles. The project might be his final say so, but you’d hope a more junior member of staff has looked at the detail and the CEO just has to trust they get it right.

The concern with DK is that that process failed. It’s great for the supporters that Colin is trying to scrutinise all this.
Jay Harris
30   Posted 10/12/2008 at 21:00:01

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Two things stand out to me.

1. There are other options that have been dismissed out of hand not because of their unsuitability but because the gravy train to Kirkby is already in motion.

2. The cost of £78 million is arrived at by using a cross subsidy of £52 million which may or may not be available. Surely there is not only Tesco?s and their builders who can come up with such a package in the current climate.
Rich Jones
31   Posted 10/12/2008 at 22:37:07

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Why not!! Neil that is very week even for you. Neil I haven?t dished out any personal abuse to you and that's a fact but you do infuriate me with your ridiculous reasons for agreeing with the move to Kirkby, your blind faith in BK. For Christ's sake I think if he?d of captained the Titanic or been in charge of the Light Brigade, you'd have an excuse fore him. Be honest, now, Neil is he a friend or family member or even your employer per chance?
Neil Pearse
32   Posted 10/12/2008 at 23:46:06

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Rich, I first stated on Toffeeweb two years ago that Kenwright should go as the owner of Everton Football Club because he didn’t have the resources to carry it forward. I say in this very thread above that he must bear his share of the responsibility for our club’s being in the weak financial position that it is now in.

I am at a loss. Where am I ’making excuses’ for him? To be honest, I don’t care about Kenwright very much one way or the other. He will be gone soon and I think that is a good thing. I do not think he is evil and corrupt like you and many other Toffeeweb posters, but that is about the extent of my support for him. I have never met him and never expect to.

Why do you find it impossible Rich to distinguish ’support for Kenwright’ and ’support for Kirkby’ (which, actually, as I’ve stated above, and repeatedly, isn’t even my first choice - which by far is a ground share). On Kirkby my position is: I do not think like you that it is likely to destroy the club as we know it; I think we need to move; I am sure that we cannot afford anything else right now.

I could ask you the same questions Rich. Be honest now, did Kenwright run over your dog or something? You seem obsessed by him. I am more interested in the best future for Everton Football Club.
Neil Pearse
33   Posted 11/12/2008 at 00:21:13

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And by the way, Rich, I really think your and others’ complete identification of Kenwright and Kirkby is way off beam. All that we know about Kenwright suggests he is a romantic dreamer who would much rather somehow stay at GP. He has as we all know never constructed a coherent sentence in favour of Kirkby, and the little he has said on the move has been very grudging and not particularly enthusiastic.

Actually, one of the main reasons that I think Kenwright should go is that we need someone much more hard-headed and realistic about the state of the club, and someone who is not basically living in the past. To be honest, I think you would get along much better with Bill than I would!
Rich Jones
34   Posted 11/12/2008 at 08:04:28

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I think somewhere in there Neil you are calling me a romantic dreamer who is stuck in the past. Well I?m far from it. I totally accept the argument for a new ground, but not outside the city and certainly not in a different town, just so someone can make a quick buck. I think you are falling for what Bill wants to portray in the media, the image of "Oh it's not my idea", which is fine, I can understand that. By the way, he's not run my dog over, he's just desroying my football club.
Neil Pearse
35   Posted 11/12/2008 at 08:36:23

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Fair enough Rich, and as others have said it is okay to disagree.

And I actually agree that Bill is a bit of a mystery on this with his "oh, it’s not really my idea" kick. And again that this hardly endears him any more to me - to be honest, I think it is a pretty pathetic stance to take. But since it’s not going to make him any quick buck unless some new owner thinks Kirkby is a good idea which makes the club worth more, I think we are going to disagree about Kenwright having purely self-interested motives. If Kirkby is as obviously bad as you think it is then, absent a completely idiot investor, Kenwright is going to lose money over it and would be better off selling up right now.

And of course we will disagree over the question of how we are going to afford this ’new ground in the city’ that we would BOTH no doubt want. (I really would prefer King’s Dock or Stanley Park too Rich, I really would!) But I guess this is really old ground now and if people still believe we have the odd £200M+ lying around to invest in the city then there is certainly nothing by now that I can say to persuade them otherwise.

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