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Reply to ?A Blessing in Disguise?

By Gareth Price :  07/08/2008 :  Comments (25) :

Firstly I would like to congratulate Lyndon for an excellent piece of writing in his column piece, A Blessing in Disguise. I do agree with many points that were raised. I also concur with many of the latter comments, the quality of professional journalism really does stand above comments made in knee-jerk fashion in the Mailbag.

Secondly a commenter asked how a "yes" voter could come up with a similar reply, one that also goes above the knee-jerk reactions of last night. I would like to give this a try ? although, admittedly there is not too much that can be said that hasn't been said already.

The reactions from this is the end of the debate whole-heartedly have been exaggerated. This alone will not spell the end of a football club. Football at the end of the day is a business and Everton would only end if all of the revenue stopped. Fans would still go to games no matter what league they are in, still buy memorabilia, the match day programmes and, especially in the Championship, TV revenue, whilst not Champions League-level, is continuing to grow.

Leeds are a good example of this. Fans still come through and last year their attendances were around 30,000 by the end. (Although some would argue that Leeds is a one-city club, unlike Liverpool other sports are extremely popular, such as the two local Rugby sides. As far as I am aware, Liverpool does not have a team in the top two divisions of either code of Rugby. Liverpool only hosts one cricket game a year whilst Leeds is a Test match venue. This may be becoming a bit irrelevant but it is to show that Leeds kept fans when other sports to support their city team were available and initially did.)

Like any plans for any ground, new or old, the success of it is determined by numbers through the turnstiles. I always remained confident that if this move happened Everton would still have had an average attendance of at least 30,000. I guess what I'm trying to say is, subject to competition entered, Everton wouldn't lose the income they already receive at present from Sky, the Premier League and the fans.

I voted yes for the same reasons everybody did, the way it was sold. People can criticise me then for naivety, but is the regular fan really to be expected to delve through all the clubs accounts, read into all the planning applications and proposals for every site before hand?

Yes the campaign from KEIOC was effective, but like with the club you do except an element of bias with every argument. For me it was the comments of the players that sold it to me. Maybe if they weren't playing in a new stadium with bigger dressing rooms they'd hot-foot it! Stay at Goodison and lose the likes of Arteta or move to Kirkby and still seem them play anywhere on the pitch and not just in the corners that the pillars don't obscure.

This then brings me round to investment from wealthy investors. First of all most, if not all, modern grounds contain a tier round the stadium (such as Bolton, Sunderland, Man Utd to name a few) for corporate boxes and facilities. Remaining firmly with the point that football is a business nowadays it is these sorts of facilities that drive up clubs' revenues. Though many regular fans despise them as they tend to split grounds in two hindering atmosphere, they do make clubs money. Again, I expect that any new ground Everton have would contain these, even a redeveloped Goodison, but I do believe that the ability to hold corporate events raises the profile of the club to an investor.

To get back to the point in hand, corporate facilities attract investors. Goodison cannot offer investors these. A new stadium or redeveloped Goodison, although not guaranteed, is going to be the easiest way for Everton to gain investment. The investment is more likely to come if said investor has to put as little as possible into the club. Lerner hasn't spent a great deal yet has he? At present Everton is not viable for investment ? they would have to pay big money just to get to where Villa, Pompey and even Spurs are. Forget about the Sky 4. What I disagree with Lyndon most about is his claim of a short term fix with long term problems for Everton. Yes it could be true but so could this scenario:

Spending more money redeveloping Goodison to that standard, the team suffers a bad run of form and gets relegated. Players leave to pay off debts on developed stadium costs, Then in turn support dwindles, revenue slows back into a Leeds scenario. I know this may sound like I'm contradicting myself as Leeds, after a tough few years, look like they're coming back up and I've already used them as a positive argument for why Everton won't die ? but anything in the future is possible. I also concede said scenario is possible for Kirkby but so is the positive scenario, the Pompey one:

Pompey had council backing for a new ground around the time Gaydaremack came knocking. He invested knowing a new stadium was en-route and brought in better players for Pompey and took them to a cup. What if the stadium in Kirkby had gone through, a billionaire took over, invested in the team and we would now be competing, the players he brought took us into the Champions League and success and Wembley dates came too?

You talk about it being a short term fix only. How can you say that? Sunderland, City, Derby, even West Ham to an extent (their ground was developed with the Rio Ferdinand money, which is why it has been referred to as the Rio Stand by Leeds fans) have seen big investment with modern grounds despite being in the shadow of nearby bigger teams. Why could this "short term" fix not have been the catalyst we needed too?

I tried once before to ask what was preferred ? the Tescodome on Stanley Park or the Nou Camp in kirkby? I'll ask again along with this ? one thing we all agree on is that success nowadays is what brings in fans. I believe that corporate facilities bring added revenue and attract investors.

Investment is required to bring the success to bring in the fans, as no investment is coming anytime soon, no money spent on players ask yourself this: are we really better off now than what we could have been because with one or two injuries this year we will struggle, we could lose our Premier League place and be worse off than what £78m we would have lost on Kirkby.

Reader Comments

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Adam Cunliffe
1   Posted 08/08/2008 at 16:34:24

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A good response, well writen and adresses most of the points Lyndon made in his article.

However I’m with LL on the quick fix point.Kirkby was supposed to get the go ahead, get built, make Wyness a quick buck and then it would of been some one elses problem when he sods of on his jollies to Majorca.

To me, I would sooner have 40000 passionate screaming Evertonians on a Thursday night under flood lights than 50000 fans struggling to be heard.

That opinion isnt shared by the business men but it should be.After all without the fans football wouldnt be as rich as it is.
Tim Keen
2   Posted 08/08/2008 at 17:48:28

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We ARE ripe for investment.

I don’t understand the arguement on this one that a new stadium makes us more likely to be taken over.

Without a new ground Everton shares are worth £20m and we break even each year.

With a new ground Everton shares are worth £100m as we make a £10m profit each year.

So the new investor either pays an extra £80m to the current shareholders or puts that £80m into building a stadium.

Oh and since Lerner has taken over Villa they have spent £68m on new players with hardly any money bought in. That is 6 times more than Moyes net spend in 6 years!

Chris Briddon
3   Posted 08/08/2008 at 19:24:22

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Tim - you are aforgetting one minor point. Any investor would STILL need to provide the funds to build a new stadium (or re-develop the old one if feasible which is another argument entirely).

Randy Learner had the advantage that Doug Ellis had run Villa into the ground with no cash to spend, by re-developing VIlla Park over a period of time, so he already had a stadium built for him. Hence all his money could go on improving the team.

As any new stadium (without Outside help) would cost upwards of £150m, then any investor has to provide that money first, before the team get anything.

How does this make us ripe for investment as anybody who doesn’t have about £300m might as well not bother, becuase by the time you’ve bought the shares and financed a new ground, you haven’t got much left anyway!
Tim Keen
4   Posted 08/08/2008 at 20:35:26

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Doug Elllis refurbished Villa Park whilst still providing more money then we’ve seen under Kenwright.

Why does everyone think that a new investor would not be able to get a similar, or better, deal then Kenwright got at Kirkby?

If you buy a house to let out you don’t have to pay the full £150k in cash. If you can show that it will bring in more rent than the mortgage repayments then banks will loan the money. The loan is then paid off and the surplus money is profit. A new stadium would work in the same way.

As long as a new investor has enough money to get us to the stage where a stadium can be constructed, and show that it will generate the income to cover the borrowing, then he won’t need to shell out money out of his own pocket.

After all 15,000 of our fans voted on the basis that an entire stadium could be funded by selling Goodison, Bellefield and naming rights plus enabling.

Surely any new investor would be able to find the same package? Swansea, Cardiff and MK Dons have matched the offer.
Paul Hardcastle
5   Posted 08/08/2008 at 20:47:02

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"For me it was the comments of the players that sold it to me."

You might have held my attention but not after that gem! The golden insights of Phil Neville and the like were key to you voting Yes? Well, that certainly helps me understand the mindset of your avearge Yes voter I suppose... but does absolutely nothing to increase their credibility ratings!

You’re talking about players who, in all likelihood would be a million miles from Kirkby when it opened. You’re talking about players who are currently on the payroll of the club which does not even tolerate discussion of the issues over Kirkby, having done it’s best to marginalise the protest group it’s henchman (Tom Cannon) then chose to demonize in most ridiculous terms for having single-handedly brought about the call-in of the project.

Other naive Evertonians elsewhere on this website are calling for some rapprochement and unity as we move forward but that seems rather a pious hope with we must unify with such shallow and limited thinkers who say they voted Yes because the club and its players told them to!

Colin Wordsworth
6   Posted 08/08/2008 at 21:50:01

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Just because you disagree with someones point of view it does not mean they are shallow or naive or a limited thinker!

Depending on your point of view this can be pointed at both sides of the argument.

But being flippant, and talking about the players, where do you think they would rather play.....a brand new state of the art stadium or the old lady?......and what would impress potential new players more?......

just a thought........
Gavin Ramejkis
7   Posted 08/08/2008 at 21:47:31

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There is one major fault in your argument along the lines of just build more corporate boxes and they will come; the Arsenal methodology of getting it right on the pitch first which subsequently attracts corporates who want to be linked to success and not also rans. Just building facilities doesn’t mean by any way shape or form they will just arrive. Why try to run before you can even walk? We don’t sell out our current corporate boxes, we need to run the business properly and have a multi year on year plan.
Colin Wordsworth
8   Posted 08/08/2008 at 22:22:59

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I think the problem is the state of our corporate facilities..........they are really poor in comparison to other clubs.

There are some good people working at Goodison behind the scenes, don’t you think they are doing their is very easy to critisise from afar!

Hense DK which can give us the tools and still enable us to purchase players. The old lady is struggling and groaning in an attempt to give us any more!

At the moment the only way we can
Gavin Ramejkis
9   Posted 08/08/2008 at 23:13:33

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Colin without requesting the usual tirade in return from BK fans.

The trouble with the "behind the scenes" work at GP is that those in overall control have neither the acumen to bring it to a satisfactory outcome or the money to do so.

With all the best intentions in the world, if you have incompetent and/or incapable leadership then your best intentions will come to nothing.

I’ve been in many situations in business over the years and made recommendations to the powers that be, that have been ignored or dismissed out of hand then later been mistakenly accused of not making changes that I had recommended when I was never empowered to make those very same changes.

Many people could well be stuck between a rock and a hard place at GP and my cold recommendation for them would be to move on to an environment where their work is acknowledged and used if your assumptions are correct.
Derek Thomas
10   Posted 09/08/2008 at 00:40:25

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Colin; It all starts from the team, you have to have a product the customers want. If United played at Goodison, the corporate bods would be crawling over broken glass to get to the tent, sorry marque.

ALL, a small word that covers a multitude of sin, all that needs to be done is,

1) maintain and improve the team.

2)get the ? front desk? right.

3) revamp Goodison bit by bit as the results / cash allows.

If Bill can?t or won?t he must go, if he must stay for face saving a nominal figurehead role at best.

As for the shares he ? owns? the real question about them is Who ?owns? him!!.
Alan Ross
11   Posted 09/08/2008 at 03:52:38

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The whole point about Kikby is that it was the wrong deal at the wrong time. The infrastructure is totally inadaquate for a 50,000 seater stadium and would have still been inadaquate 10 years down the line. As the enabler for this project we should have been far more aggresssive in our negotiations with Tesco to push for a stadium more in keeping with the best league in the world and with Knowsley for a vastly improved transport system which could more than cater for the existing capacity and with vision to cater for an increased capacity. Instead Everton accepted what they were offered without recource to alternative options due to the exclusivity agreement. If Everton are so determined to end up at Kirkby they should use this opportunity to rake as much out of this situation as they can or else they simply do not defend the enquiry. Something tells me that our board on past performance has niether the balls or the where-for-all to carry this forward to Everton’s advantage. No way should Everton be responsible for any increased costs that are brought about because of the call in which is soley down to the size of the retail element of the project. All along Everton have played second fiddle in any stadium negotiations with any party. A dogs of war attitude is required right now for the sake all concerned.
John Ball
12   Posted 08/08/2008 at 20:11:31

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So our ground move is called in for a enquiry. If it does go ahead, which I now doubt, it will cost us over £35M; if is does not we are in the mire. We will have a old ground and if we did rebuild there as some fans suggested who is going to pay?

We are trying to find a buyer but can't attract a nest of wasps. The so-called big 4 plus other Premier League teams have all got multi-millionaires behind them and who are we attracting.... erm let me think... and without a new ground we will go further down any investors list....

The future is bright, the future is shite! No new signings, no investors, possibly no new ground ? how long before Moyes has had enough?

I voted for the move and glad the majority won as they like me can see what the problems will be if we don't move.

Gavin Ramejkis
13   Posted 09/08/2008 at 16:58:02

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John Ball, not everyone believes the annual lies of BK or the deal of the century which would put the club in a mediocre, hard to access retail park stadium and make us another Wigan or Bolton or Reading. BK’s failures are as clear as daylight for even the national press to now start writing about but if you believe a small town retail park is what you want to follow then why not just jump ship to follow a club that is already there, like Wigan or Bolton?
Colin Wordsworth
14   Posted 09/08/2008 at 19:47:26

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Hopefully much of the malise behind the scenes will be sorted soon, certainly the PR from the new man in charge is a lot more positive!

DK is really the only deal on the table that will allow team strengthening and a new stadia, nothing else comes close. I know location is the great bugbear for many.....but how many people will visit each day....or go past, and see the new stadium and perhaps take an interest etc etc, there are many positives to it.

To redevelop the grand old lady would cost at least double, we just aint got the dosh!
Steve Green
15   Posted 09/08/2008 at 22:36:31

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Hello Gareth,
?For me it was the comments of the players that sold it to me?.
Do the players walk 40 mins to the new stadium from where they have had to park their vehicle?
Do the players queue in a cordon in the wind and rain for 40 minutes to catch a full to bursting train?
Or do the players park 40 yards from the new stadium entrance and pocket £40k per week from their employer and main mover for the move...EFC ? ? ?
Just one thought that occured to me at any rate!
Paul O'Hanlon
16   Posted 09/08/2008 at 22:40:48

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whilst I appreciate you had a lot to live up to in replying to a high quality article such as Lyndon?s, you?ve completely failed to address the problems and lies that have been exposed surrounding the Kirkby project. If you want to know what those problems are, re-read Lyndon?s article, he?s detailed them clearly.

Secondly, like Paul Hardcastle I too also lost respect for your decision making when you state you were swayed by players telling you to vote for Kirkby and that average fan shouldn?t have to read between the lines when the club tell them something. You have a brain, use it to make your own choices! Don?t blame others for leading you astray.
Andy Crooks
17   Posted 10/08/2008 at 00:37:01

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Gareth, I disagree with you, but you have wriiten the best pro-Kirkby article I have read on this site. Reasonable debate still lives.
Steve Carter
18   Posted 10/08/2008 at 01:11:20

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I too have enjoyed the quality of Lyndon?s and Gareth?s articles and the responses thereto. I have to disagree, though, with those like Tim who say we are ?ripe for investment?. We are not, in my view.

Even if it?s true, as some believe, that BK can?t be believed most of the time, I, for one, believe that he is right when he says that no fairy godmother ?foreign billionaire? is interested in us because the kind of fairies we want to want us all hold the view that Liverpool is too small an area for two EPL teams and LFC is the global brand. For anyone outside of Merseyside, and certainly outside of England, EFC is as well known and supported as Blackburn, Sunderland, Bolton etc. In other words, we?re an also ran who makes up the numbers in the EPL that no-one is interested in.

Don?t believe me? Go anywhere in SE Asia and play spot the LFC and the EFC shirt on the street for a day. You?ll be totting up the former throughout the day and search in vain for one of the latter. The lack of fairy godmother interest and the reason for it is reality folks. If it were not so, why hasn?t there been any solid (or even fanciful, for that matter) media speculation about someone, anyone, sniffing around? Staying at and revamping Goodison, or moving to Kirby, the Loop, Walton Hall Park, even bulldozing Kings Dock and going back to the future there, will not change this basic problem.

The market that fairy godmothers are interested is not that constituted by the supporters who actually go to the games. That?s globalisation. We either run with it - and that means looking outside the goldfish bowl that is Liverpool - or limit ourselves to the current extent of navel gazing that?s going on and, at the same time, hope to hell that LFC don?t make the top 4 this year, their owners get credit crunched and they go from roosters to feather dusters.

Michael Dempsey
19   Posted 10/08/2008 at 10:33:12

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I have been away so am late with this but I expected to see all the predictable triumphalism of the KEIOC camp. But there are three points I want to make.

First, Peter Kilfoyle was quite right about Liverpool City (apology for a) Council. They granted planning permission for the reds to build a great pile on a historic Victorian park. That wasn?t called in. They refused permission for us to build on Bellefield and have done absolutely nothing to help Everton from the start. They are now primarily responsible for getting the Kirkby application called in on purely parochial grounds and they should be ashamed of themselves.

Secondly, people go on about the Kirkby budget affecting the running of the Club but where do they think the money is going to come from for redeveloping Goodison or building a stadium somewhere else without a partner like Tesco? Goodison is an aged wreck, however nostalgic it all is to us. If we have a hope of re-emerging as a mega club we have to have a new stadium. That would cost a fortune and we don?t have it. However much the figures changed, Wyness was right; Kirkby is the bargain of the century.

Finally, if KEIOC think that they are going to go to the public inquiry and argue that Everton should remain in the City, or find a new site, they have another think coming. These are not planning issues and won?t be taken into account by any Inspector.

I think the call-in is a complete disaster and the prime culprits are LCC. Watch now as they try to resuscitate the shared stadium idea. What bastards.

Graham Brandwood
20   Posted 10/08/2008 at 18:58:57

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Colin. You say how many people will visit each day or go past Kirkby and take an interest. That is the problem. nobody visits Kirkby, only people from Maghull or Lydiate go past. The stadium will not market the club in the same way as an inner city site does.
Colin Fitzpatrick
21   Posted 10/08/2008 at 19:18:48

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Michael Dempsey, some serious questions, how old are you? Have you ever read the Tesco planning application? And finally have you ever read anything the people of KEIOC have read and campaigned for?
Nick Entwistle
22   Posted 10/08/2008 at 19:47:52

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Given that it was my reply to Lyndon?s post doubting a Yes voter to come back with a post of simular reasoned arguments for their position, it?s nice to know I was right...

There is nothing in this which is arguing the Yes vote to the same degree.

You say your decision was made on this... full acceptance of what the club had to say without looking into things further (yes you are supposed to) and the fact the players were for it... who?d have thought!

Other than that the article is full of nonsense, presumptions and scare mongering (including playing in the Championship), as if you?ve fallen for the ?no plan B? line.
Dave Carson
23   Posted 10/08/2008 at 22:34:32

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If ever the paucity of the pro-Kirkby argument was exposed, the lack of substance compared to the KEIOC case, then it’s in Price’s piece - absolutely pathetic.

If King Bill and co had been willing to find £78m for signings this summer we’d be CL qualifying contenders and if successful the suits would be fighting each other to get into bed with us.
24   Posted 13/08/2008 at 10:43:54

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re the reference to pompey - is the author aware that gaydermak was so impressed with the plans to redevelop fratton park (the key to his investment according to your article), that he dismissed them as too small & his plans for a more ambitious stadium are now onto the second post-fratton location, with a number of others having been considered. incidentally, not only would the pompey supporters be up in arms at the suggestion that they should leave the city for the pompey hinterland, but there was even some disquiet when it was proposed that they move onto the "mainland", even within the current city boundary.
Graham Atherton
25   Posted 13/08/2008 at 17:14:40

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Gareth has some good points - one in particular being the argument being based around the bottom line - money.

Kirkby has far more potential to earn the stuff. More seats, modern facilities, lots of non-matchday facilities and lots of space fro further expansion.
Goodison is virtually full to usable capacity despite it being a long way from Premiership quality. Where is the new business going to come from? Increases in Premiership money aren’t going to make us more competitive in the Premiership - all 18 clubs get that money and player prices & wages rise.

I have read all the documents and most of the interpretations on both sides. Some of the arguments chip away at the edges of the fundamental improvement Kirkby offers but many are emotional arguments attempting to find real substance by extracting and manipulating lines from large documents e.g. I have seen it quoted that KMBC will have 100 days free use of the stadium facilities (leading to a natural conclusion that nearly 1/3 of the profit from the stadium will be lost). In point of fact the actual statement talks of 100 uses per year, which in a stadium the size of that projected for Kirkby could involve 10 uses a day - a far less worrying figure - and in all likelihood those uses will be for local schoolkids & other community groups.

Overall then both sides of this debate have circulated half truths and much can be discounted as biased. The real truth lies between the two.

Stadium moves do work. Man City moved 2 miles from their heartland into an industrial wasteland that is a 30 min walk from the nearest train station - albeit a high capacity station. Most people travel by car despite only 2-3000 official car parks being available. The club quickly accumulated 10 000 more spaces in local businesses, much as could happen in Kirkby. Park and ride is also about to start happening at GP!
Attendances have dwindled over the last few years as they struggle on the pitch but still remain far above the old stadium. They went into £35 million worth of debt plus lose a fair percentage of their ticket earnings every match BUT turnover remains high and I’m sure that can’t all be due to ’still being within the city boundaries’.

As a businessman would you spend £66 million on debt repayment, £30 million on buying out the old owners and then £150-200 million on a new stadium that might easily take 4 years to deliver a profit? Or would you spend a similar amount on a club that already have the new stadium so would offer returns immediately?

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