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The Greatest Show on Earth?

By James Brand :  18/08/2008 :  Comments (29) :
As I prepared this article I couldn?t help but browse through the complimentary pages of Wikipedia about our dear friend Bill Kenwright. Undoubtedly he has become one of the most successful Theatrical Producers in the West End and if you bumped into him in the pub, you?d have to buy him a pint and a ?congratulations? for being a fellow scouser, a blue and doing very well for himself out of life.

Mr Kenwright is a professional showman and it?s in the course of his decorated career that he acquired funds to buy his (and our!) beloved Everton Football Club from Mr Johnson. I was about 14 years old at the time so I don?t really remember the finer details. However, the one thing that sticks in my memory from it all was this:

Mr Kenwright wrestled control of the club back in 1999. One thing I do recall is that it didn?t happen overnight. Mr Kenwright had to scrape the money together to make the purchase. I remember everyone being so gleeful! Here was a true blue buying the club from the evil Mr Johnson. But even in my tender years, I couldn?t help but think that if it took Mr Kenwright so long to scrape the funds together, would there be anything left to actually buy players with?

My suspicions as a teenager have been proven over the years that, as much as he loves the Everton Football Club, he just has not got the funds required to sustain an assault on the top half of the table. His only success has come due to an astute Scotsman. Moyes's bad buys, transfer dithering and tactical awareness are arguments for another article.

Mr Kenwright was interviewed again this summer and he reiterated his intention to sell up to the right buyer. My question is this: will there ever be a right buyer? I find it so hard to believe that there isn?t someone out there willing to purchase Everton FC! My suspicion would be that part of the ?would you like to buy my club?? proposition is more like ?hey, invest in my club and I?ll give you a seat on the board?.

I think it boils down to pride. I genuinely believe that Mr Kenwright will never allow Everton to be bought outright by someone else. He will insert a caveat stipulating a powerful and senior role for Bill.

If you had the money to purchase Everton FC, would you want Mr Kenwright anywhere near the boardroom table? Personal decision, but if I was to buy the club, I would want exclusive ownership (like Bill) and a board that catered to my every whim (like Bill!). I think it's only human nature that he is desperately holding onto a role that he probably craved for years and loathes to surrender by some ?Johnny-come-Lately? In the meantime, fan unrest just fans the flames of resentment against a Chairman that simply does not have the cash!

I am absolutely not one of those ?I?ve got a mate who works in the ticket office and he tells me on the highest authority etc?? but I thought I?d share something interesting with everybody. I?m sure it was a ?throw-away? comment at the time, but a very high authority at the club at a recent social non-Everton-related function, claimed in no un-certain terms that Everton Football Club is absolutely penniless! Granted it?s probably what we all knew, but apparently it?s far worse than fans think. ?Absolutely Penniless?.

Moyes was insistent that there were funds to spend prior to the first game of the season. I see a gaping hole in that statement though. Not that I?m calling him a liar, but this is how my mind works:

If you owned a football club and had given a manager a budget to dabble in the market with, you?d expect him to have spent it (unless you?re Wenger). Mr Kenwright must have known that a large contingent of fans blame him for the fact that we haven?t signed anyone and possibly, rightly so. So on Saturday, Bill would have known that there was a lot of animosity directed at him. In the interests of self-preservation, would you have allowed your manager to not sign someone by now? I wouldn?t. I think the next few weeks will be crucial to the next few years of our club. The key will be whether Moyes signs his contract or not. If the board cannot match his ambitions and provide funds and/or sell-up to someone who can back him (yeah, like that?s ever going to happen), he will be gone and will take our dreams with him.

I?ve calmed down since Saturday so I?ve had chance to gather my thoughts constructively. I?ve decided to withhold my vehement retaliation of the club, board etc until September 2nd when we know who will be playing for Everton FC this season. As disappointed as I am, I?ll give them the benefit of the doubt 'til then, which will be pleasant reading to Master Baxter et al as this is giving them an opportunity that only other club's academy graduates dream of.

In the long run, I do wish there is someone out there that has the funds and the desire to buy and run our club according to how we?d want it. I do believe a radical change in the hierarchy at Goodison is required to make us successful once again. In the meantime we?re stuck with Mr Kenwrong who has an impressive list of theatrical shows that he has produced over the years, though his greatest show to date has to be the one he is choreographing at Goodison Park.

Reader Comments

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Dan Brierley
1   Posted 19/08/2008 at 06:38:16

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"I find it so hard to believe that there isn?t someone out there willing to purchase Everton FC

Can I know your reasons for saying this? I find it easy to know why nobody will invest in us, I have listed my opinions below.

1.) There is a worldwide economic downturn, resulting in the majority of firms tightening their belts. I believe the majority of football clubs are owned by investors with multiple portfolio’s. Not many are ’flush’ with cash to invest at the moment. Credit is harder to come by, and costs more when found.

2.) Everton FC need a new stadium, so any investor has to take this into account. There is 78 million gone before you have even started. Everton also need new squad players with the minimum spend just for competing for UEFA football (which gets you around 500,000 if you do well) being around 20 to 30 million. So thats 100 million before you have got out of the door.

3.) Everton FC consistently produces a loss due to poor revenue streams, and has little brand appeal.

4.) If you wanted a general dip check of how EFC are doing and went on the net for a general opinion, would EFC seem a wise choice for investment in the current financial climate?

5.) The fan’s berated the current owner for buying out the club from a previous regime making no investment, even using his own money, but still recieving death threats and suffering constant abuse for ’damaging’ this club. Sound appealing to somebody who only wants to ’make’ money?

There are plenty of people who would buy Everton, I am sure. But the only way to make a worthwhile yearly profit would be simply not to invest into the team, or asset strip it (sell players). I really don’t think BK wants to sell to those types of people, and nor do any of us!

I am all ears if anybody can give me a reason as to why we are an attractive investment idea.
Lee Penswick
2   Posted 19/08/2008 at 08:53:46

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Dan, you make it sound very bad. Here?s a reason, we arguably have the fifth best first XI in the Prem already in place, we have a huge loyal fanbase, an illustrious history. Surely EFC is a good long-term investment. With the right people in at all levels and good investment we could definetly challenge at the top.
Barry Lightfoot
3   Posted 19/08/2008 at 09:00:03

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Does anyone think that the exclusivity contract that forbids Everton talking to anyone else about stadium moves/regeneration also forbids Bill from selling Everton to anyone else. After all if it was sold and the new owner wasn?t interested in Kirkby that would be an awful lot of money wasted by Tesco and a huge amount in future revenue lost.

After reading that statement in the contract that said Kenwright & Co would not sell or dilute their shares it may well be the case.
Roy Warne
4   Posted 19/08/2008 at 09:17:59

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Dan, Bill Kenwright has never ?used his own money? to bankroll everton football club, a la Jack walker. This is a common misconception held by many everton fans.
He has used his own money to buy a majority stake of everton shares, which was obviously only ever an investment that he will get a retrun on.

During his tenure our debt has far exceeded that during the Johnson era.
Steve Hogan
5   Posted 19/08/2008 at 09:11:12

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I think Dan has hit the nail on the head with his brief synopsis. Basically were looking for an individual or organisation, willing not only to buy out the contolling interest of the current board, but to pump up to £350 million worth of new capital to fund a new stadium etc with no real immediate prospect of a return on their money.

One point Dan has not mentioned which I believe also has an influence on the lack of offers to date is the sheer strength of the LFC brand we share the city with.

Like it or not, they are a global brand with many admirers world wide, yet it took them five years to attract serious interest after Moores and Parry decided to place the club on the market to attract new investment.

The likes of Newcastle, who dominate the local city and it?s surrounds, are a far more attractive proposition to potential purchasers who can effectively market the club and brand without the added distraction of a powerful neighbor on their doorstep.

Anyone know of a sympathetic blue (or blues) with £400 million to spare?
Steve Carter
6   Posted 19/08/2008 at 10:58:36

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To which, Dan, I add:
6) Liverpool is not London.
7) The Liverpool market in the eyes of investors who are looking investing their money in a top 4 potential team is a one-team market
8) There is already a top 4 global brand in that one team market - LFC.
9) Therefore:
(a) we either have to hope LFC goes broke sometime soon; or
(b) move away from Liverpool - and not to Kirby (because, among other things, it’s still in the Liverpool market).
Ronan McGinley
7   Posted 19/08/2008 at 11:28:33

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Dan, I completely agree with all of your points, a very valid argument outlining why EFC is not an attractive investment proposition right now. However just to play devil?s advocate for a moment;

There is little potential for increasing future revenue stream without significant investment, therefore it is reasonable to suggest that a potential investor would only have to bid a relatively low multiple of the share price to acquire the club, knowing that if they invest £100m of debt/cash the revenue stream could be doubled in a few years (by breaking in the Champions League proper). In that regard EFC could be a very rewarding, if risky, proposition for the right investor.

But as I said I am just playing devil?s advocate, I do agree with all the points you made.
Dan Brierley
8   Posted 19/08/2008 at 11:45:33

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I am afraid that an illustrious history counts for nothing when talking investment. Its like saying ’Anybody fancy buying Nothern Rock? Just look at how much it USED to make..’ if anything, demonstrating a favourable history when you are in the shit now makes you MORE unappealing perhaps?

We are talking about cold hard facts, which I agree make it sound bad. But the reason I make these points are to rationalise why we arent getting any investment. We simply are not an attractive package! But some people use this as ammunition to attack the man who pulled us from the Johnson era, and gave us real hope and ambition again. Give me some evidence he wont sell up to an investor with a real plan to makie EFC great again, and I will nail him to the fucking gate’s myself!

I agree ronan, its certainly plausible that an investor could take a gamble on us. But believe me, if the gamble doesnt work, they wont walk away thinking ’oh well, win some lose some’. They will strip this team of our star players to re-coup, and nobody could do anything about it. I am sure you know only too well about Leed’s ’gamble’ on breaking the CL.

I really get pissed off with the lack of signings, but I understand Moyes only wants to bring in those he has identified as improving the core set of players. Had he brough in 6 average players, this board would be full of people complaining about ’why did he knee jerk just to fill numbers? Now we are left with average players, and no money to improve’. I personally can be patient to the last transfer day, if it means that we bring in players that improve us.

But again, people are screaming for the board and Moyes to be kicked out. Just like they did last season, and in the CL qualification season. One day these people will get what they wish for, and I personally hope that the new people will have EFC truly in their hearts even half as much as the current set up.
Lee Spargo
9   Posted 19/08/2008 at 12:43:35

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Why do people continue to think there are ?investors? or potential ?takeover bids? that involve individuals spending their OWN money to buy players for US. It doesn?t happen - a very few exceptions aside - a la Abramovic. People don't give money away. They invest if they think they can make a bigger return. Players are funded by the clubs own income or credit. So why are people suprised that BK hasnt got the ?means? to compete? Even if he had - he wouldn?t be spending it on players.
Jay Harris
10   Posted 19/08/2008 at 12:33:34

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totally agree with a number of your points.

Everton has always been difficult to buy because of the way the shares were structured and that was compounded when the Kenwright regime took over,a point that was made 5 years ago by Paul Gregg.

Dan you make a lot of sensible points but football is not "sensible".

How do you explain QPR, Sunderland, Villa, Portsmouth, West Ham etc. all attracting investors.

I do disagree with you fundamentally on one point though. Historic performance is a pointer to future performance and ours would be a great marketing angle.

How can you say GP, Dixie Dean, The Golden Vision, Alan Ball, The Holy Trinity and Everton?s glorious history as the 4th most successful club in England are not GOOD marketing opportunities.

We have got to forget this bullshit that investors are not interested because we are in the same city as the RS. That was coined by BK as an excuse for why he WASN'T "looking for investment 24/7".
David Shepherd
11   Posted 19/08/2008 at 12:45:38

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Dan I read your comments and agreed with them to start with but then thought about them in greater detail.

Yes there is an economic downturn, except in the Premier League where money is just flying into it. Look at West Brom ticket prices for an example of football not living in the real world.

We will not be bought by a company as I am not aware of any company that has bought a club. We will be looking at a Billionaire to buy us who will have the money in the bank. Yes they may well be looking at making a hefty return on their investment but that’s business.

Secondly, do we really need to spend £78M up front on a new ground? Couldn’t we spread the cost over several years and re-develop (yes REDEVELOP) goodsion. It can be done with a little imagination.

This would mean that the new buyer could invest the main amount of the money on the team, producing better results meaning more fans going to the games, thus bringing about more matchday revenue.

Brand appeal? Yes of course, the thing that comes with winning things! If we won something we would gain more fans thus making the ’brand’ better! Chelsea had no way near as many fans until they won things, now they have a healthy brand as you would say. The two, unfortunately, go hand in hand!

Now I come onto Steves comments.

We do not compete with Liverpool in Liverpool. We have beaten them in turns of having more local fans going to the game. "Highest walk up in the country". I know as I moved to Cambridge a few years ago that after night games and some saturday games (I usually stay up north after sat games) the M6 is a dream to drive on after the match. When that lot have been at home it’s a nightmare and I don’t know if you were at Anfield this year but they gave advice to the LFC fans of how to get onto the M6 as the M62 was closed. Ever hear this at Goodison? The most we get is an announcement one of the tunnels is closed.

When you brought up the idea of moving I laughed and laughed. Dublin perhaps? Get real!

As far as I am concerned we are a good investment. Modern day football fans are fickle beyond belief. If we won something we would get more fans in. As we already have the local market cornered there is only potential and any businessman can see this!
Ronan McGinley
12   Posted 19/08/2008 at 13:08:30

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Lee, you make a good point. Just to clarify one thing though, Abramovich is not even one of those exceptions, the Chelsea accounts show that the company owes him £750m! So not even his money was a gift, it was actually an interest free loan that will have to be paid back to him some day.

Jay, I couldnt disagree more. Show me an investor who judges investment propositions based on historic performance rather than forecast performance and I will show you an idiot on his way to bankrupcy. The millions of investments made every day are based on FUTURE earnings, not "historic performance"
Joe Rourke
13   Posted 19/08/2008 at 12:57:43

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Dan, I?m in agreement with your key points. You seem to be quite well informed from a financing / business point of view.

Point 3 is the your strongest point for me. The RS and the Manure derive a huge part of their income ( I nearly said wealth - but I realise they are mortgaged to the hilt ) from merchandising sales and an unblinking following of both loyal fairweather from all over the world. Everton simply don?t have this.

What if a different financing model was developed that maximised Evertons income from what it has? I think trying to copy these two is a very bad idea and that a tailored financing strategy is in order. We are not completely in the mire just yet, at least I hope not.
Lee Penswick
14   Posted 19/08/2008 at 13:11:08

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Dan, how on earth can you compere a football club to Northern Rock? Northern Rock will of course struggle in the future because customers wont trust them anymore, Everton’s customers ie the fans, sky, advertising etc are always going to be there. That is a guarantee. I know we may not be a good short term investment at the minute, but, surely any buisness man can see what a good long term investment we can be if we are run properely.
Tony Marsh
15   Posted 19/08/2008 at 13:17:11

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Pennieless apart from the McFadden £6 million the AJ £10.5 million and the £40 million Sky payout for last season. Oh and What about all those bits and bobs the Mancs owe us of the Rooney deal after there clean sweep last season??
Jay Harris
16   Posted 19/08/2008 at 13:50:49

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my point is better illustrated by this analogy:

If you have historically been amongst the premiership’s elite for a long time with gates of between 25000 and 65000 you are much more likely to continue there than say a Bolton,Birmingham or Wigan with half the support and very little historic performance.

Or in financial terms if you want a safe investment you go for one with an established track record rather than one with none.

That is just basic common sense so your point about Northern Rock and there have been a few other’s (Equitable LIfe springs to mind)is valid but not typical.

Everybody is always looking for that cracking new business that will give fantastic returns but fund managers will always have a large amount of "historic performers" in their portfolio.
James Brand
17   Posted 19/08/2008 at 16:08:27

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It’s all gone mate (well most of it)! I don’t think people realise just HOW bad the debt is.
David Banner
18   Posted 19/08/2008 at 16:31:01

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Mr Bland,

you are like so many on here who forget life under Peter Johnson. Mr Kenwright has had little money but has ensured Everton have progressed to the point were we are now finishing in the upper places of the league with a good young manager and young squad.
You seem to have all the ideas so you introduce us all to the billionaire
Simon Skinner
19   Posted 19/08/2008 at 16:51:33

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"Lee, you make a good point. Just to clarify one thing though, Abramovich is not even one of those exceptions, the Chelsea accounts show that the company owes him £750m! So not even his money was a gift, it was actually an interest free loan that will have to be paid back to him some day."

Actually, it’s still a gift because there’s no way he could ever get it back. Even if he asset stripped, he could only get a max of say £200m for the club. So he has still "gifted" £550m, albeit in a different way.

Loaning interest free rather than in any other way is probably for tax reasons.
Gavin Ramejkis
20   Posted 19/08/2008 at 17:20:49

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Two things - correction needed in the article for James - the Manager does not buy the players he merely asks the chairman and board who he would like to buy and they find the funding and do the deal. It would be tantamount to financial suicide to let a manager run amok with funds for players hence it’s left to the owners of the club.

Dan, funny you highlight conjecture in the argument then use it yourself; "death threats", a bit fucking melodromatic and just where did you glean this tittle tattle?
Brian Williams
21   Posted 19/08/2008 at 18:47:00

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Tony Marsh: You rattle off what about the money for Mcfadden, Rooney etc...

Just stop and have a think about firstly, how much is the weekly wage bill, secondly how much are installlments on paying back the overdraft.

I can?t believe, if you?re being genuine, that you wonder where the money?s gone...

And lastly. Why would anybody want to invest???? When you choose an ISA or a PEP you look for the one most likely to give you a decent return on your money......

Need I say more?
Simon Templeman
22   Posted 19/08/2008 at 20:07:45

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Simon Skinner,
I think Abramovich would get his money. Are you forgetting the hotels and value of London real estate? As far as I am aware Fulham are around £200m in the red and what do they have? (Craven Cottage)
John Andrews
23   Posted 19/08/2008 at 22:05:49

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Dan, First and foremost Everton Football Club do NOT need a new stadium. They already have one in case you haven’t noticed. Had it not been for the short termism ? of the current Board the ground could/should have been redeveloped by now. Villa, ManU and Newcastle have all managed this without too much disruption ?

My second point may rankle with some on here. Kenwright is, allegedly, trying to find investors for a club that has £60m debt ! And probably rising and definitely rising if we are to be moved to Kirkby.

Would it not be possible for Kenwright to sell his shares at a more reasonable price and not make quite as much profit as he had hoped for ? Probably me just being naive.

I also believe the arrangement with Abramovich is that should he decide to call it a day then Chelski have 18 months to repay the loan.
Robbie Carew
24   Posted 20/08/2008 at 08:24:10

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I?m a fan of football on a Saturday and a pint or two afterwards in the pub. I work hard all week for my and me lad to have a season ticket and go to some away games. If we got to a semi final or final i?d always go.

I always keep myself up to date with the official site, the BBC sport section and these days, ToffeeWeb.

But I?m not interested in the "nitty gritty"of the clubs finances, day to day transfers yes, debating about Kirby, yes, immediate, (note the immediate) and impending club takeovers, yes.

But speculation on how much are we in debt, how evil is Mr Kenwright and why is there no investor, does not interest me.

So here's my theory on how we will achieve success (in the long term);

Keep in the top six or seven each and every year for the next five or so years and we will show investors we are
a: Steady
b: Have everything in terms of a team just need one final push for the big four. (Hopefully Liverpool will have done a Leeds by then.)
c: Hopefully sorted out Kirkby.

So how do we continue in this trend over the next 5 years.
a: Joao Monthino and M?Bia and Smith and Tiago. Two other players. This wouldn?t be breaking the bank, just bending it.

Personally I will be delighted and equally amazed at Bill K if this happens.
Dan Brierley
25   Posted 20/08/2008 at 08:56:29

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We dont need a new stadium??? Christ why didnt someone say??? To think of all the arguing we have been doing on here, and we dont even bloody need one! My apologies, I thought the away fan’s were being honest when they sung ’what a fuckin shithole’, I didnt realise they were actually jealous!

I retract everything I said, and scurry for the nearest fox hole....
Paul McMonnies
26   Posted 20/08/2008 at 09:45:38

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Original article said : - My suspicion would be that part of the ?would you like to buy my club?? proposition is more like ?hey, invest in my club and I?ll give you a seat on the board?.

I think that has always been the situation when it comes to Kenwright - it’s not investment he wants, it is donations, and there is no way he is walking away - any proposal will need to involve him in a big way.

I believe that quote is virtually word perfect to what has been said to some would-be buyers who would have been willing to take over Everton as long as Kenwright left : "Me ? leave ? I’ve only just got the job - no, no, no - me and you together - I stay as Chairman, you join the board...." etc. etc.

He wants to keep hold of his train set - always has - but I’m not sure how much longer he can keep that up.
Mark Williams
27   Posted 20/08/2008 at 11:02:25

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Another anti BK FACT for you: I am a friend of Mike Lyons... legend to us blues.

He told me a construction friend of his and another lifelong evertonian offered BK to build a stadium facing the once vacant site opposite the Showcase Cinema edge lane... for... FREE!!!!

All he wanted in return was a box/suite named after him so it stayed in his family from generation to generation.... BK turned him down FLAT.... WHY Bill???????

You have killed our great club and I hope Dixie Dean, Alan Ball and Brian Labone haunt you in your sleep, you imposter!!!!

Steve Hogan
28   Posted 20/08/2008 at 20:02:16

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Mark Williams, could you please put me in touch with the ?construction company? that builds stadiums for free?

They could knock me up a house and I will let them have the kasi in the spare bedroom for their own personal use for as long as they require it!

FFS Get real.
joseph maguire
29   Posted 21/08/2008 at 16:40:34

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can someone please tell me what teams we are likely to get in eufa cup draw

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