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The Kirkby Stadium Debate, Everton Supporters, and the Commercialisation of the Game

By Peter Kennedy & David Kennedy :  09/10/2008 :  Comments (54) :
At a time when English Premier League success depends increasingly on super-rich benefactors willing to pump-prime clubs with money, some supporters urge that their own clubs be sold to the highest bidder in order to have their day in the sun.

To what extent have supporters surrendered to the view that football is just another business to be understood in terms of the power of money, and to what extent do supporters resist this view? In this article we address these questions by looking at the ongoing debate between Evertonians concerning the proposed ground move from Goodison Park to Kirkby.

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Graham Atherton
1   Posted 09/10/2008 at 06:26:33

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Would the authors of the article, or anyone else for that matter like to propose an alternative to Everton FC being run as a money making business, because I can?t see any other way to achieve success?

It is all very well bemoaning the loss of some sort of ?true spirit? of the game but unless you want us to stand alone against the tide of cash this is little more than a narrative of changes within the game ultimately caused by professionalism.

Prior to the introduction of the Premier League - one of the main forces behind commercialisation of the game in the UK - the ?beautiful game? was in stark decline in the UK amid crumbling stadia, abuse and violence (on and off the pitch). Perhaps there is some selective memory as to the ?wonderful? way the game used to be played in this country?
Christine Foster
2   Posted 09/10/2008 at 07:56:38

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To many of us reading this article it is a statement of the obvious. Two perspectives clashing about the interests of a football club with a great tradition trying to compete in an environment where money and the pursuit of more money is king.

It brings out the best, and worst in people and of commercial realities many rebel against.

Platini has spoken about foriegn ownership and the Arab investment, do we want to see Everton with 11 players who don’t speak the English language, a brazilian coach and a Sheik as president. Sadly many of us there would smile but say yes to it.

It is a step once taken can never be reversed except in decline.

Tradition has brand value. Tradition dictates why we love our club but there is a realisation that life changes, the game has changed and so must we.

But it is how we change and what we hold on to that dictates the shape and destiny of a club we love and still want to see success.

Will there be a day when the Premier League is solely a plaything for billionaires and that every club has debts that could never realistically be called in without the death of that club?

Therein lies the issue, the age old one of the devil and the deep blue sea. Do we adopt commercialism to the point of Chelsea and now Man City? Or do we forge our own values and say this is what we as a club stand for and where we belong. Its not sentimentalism, its acceptance of the fact that as the Premier league is currently we can not compete with clubs who can afford hundreds of millions a year in transfer fees. Every year.

I see those super clubs, a handful in each country, forming a Super league leaving those others to compete in national leagues.

I would love to see us compete there but I fear they are already out of our league.

A new stadium, irrespective of location, will not change that view. The AMOUNT of money available to us as a club will dictate the level we can compete in ultimately. The race for the money is on. Can we afford to join the race or can we afford it if we don’t?
Art Greeth
3   Posted 09/10/2008 at 09:31:18

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An interesting read, but not a particularly deep and profound one. I can appreciate the authors perhaps strived to be concise, but I think their demarcation of the pro and anti Kirkby camps is too glib and simplistic.

Both Graham and Christine make possibly far more salient points in their replies. As for the Kennedy’s conclusion:

?The difficulty, though, is coming to some agreement about what we want our club to be: community asset or a commodity pump-primed with money to purchase trophies..??

I don?t believe it has to be an ?either / or? choice? it can be ?and / and?. That is, Everton Football Club can be both a community asset (as we clearly are, with award-winning programs for EFC in the community?) and a ?commodity pump-primed with money.?

We are NOT a Sunday League football club. Our brand is a registered company, competing in the most lucrative professional league of the world?s most popular sport. That simply cannot be ignored. It would be negligent in the extreme not to explore every revenue source available to maintain and advance our status within that league and beyond.
David Kennedy
4   Posted 09/10/2008 at 09:28:20

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Graham,

There?s no ignoring the fact that money-making is part of football. The question is whether we are entering into a period when it kills the goose laying the golden eggs. I dont think the ?spirit? as you describe it is lost. There?s a struggle going on in that respect, and that?s the purpose of the piece - to highlight that in relation to Everton?s proposed ground ?move?.

One of the central debating points thrown up has been that increasing club finance (the evidence for this being pretty sketchy!) shouldn?t be the sole determinant in decision making. Clearly there are wider concerns and motivations at play - at least amongst supporters of the club. For example, the aesthetics and location of the stadium have been bitterly contested, as has the belief that chasing down the ?success? of the so called SKY Four is a possible or even worthwhile objective.

David Kennedy
5   Posted 09/10/2008 at 10:07:24

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Art - as you say, the need to be concise can constrain your thoughts. Personally, I think remaining at Goodison is the only way of retaining what we’ve built up in terms of being a community club. So, for me at least, that cuts straight against the grain of the business proposals on the table thus far for new stadia development - notwithstanding GFE’s and Tom Hughes’ proposals. As a general principle of business going hand-in-hand with identity/tradition/communal focus of clubs: that’s a tough balancing act to make - as evidenced recently in the case of Man City’s new owners having to be advised of making the right noises in public.

I agree with you when you say we’re not a Sunday League side. We do operate in the big league. My question would be, though, whether - in chasing the the "dream" of a Champions League place ’the brand’, as you call it, becomes compromised and even snuffed out as something that distinguishes us from the herd? Is THAT game worth the candle?
Peter Kennedy
6   Posted 09/10/2008 at 10:46:24

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Graham you are right, there has never been a ?true spirit? underpinning the game, we did not say there was. Nevertheless there is a ?spirit? or enduring attraction no matter how sullied or impure (we often use the terms traditional or community to describe this) and our point is that supporters struggle to defend this ?spirit? but that it is growing weaker as the forces of commercialisation threaten to strangle the game. The paper does not claim to offer solutions but rather indicates how supporters are increasingly influenced by commercial arguments until the debate and options become limited to how far we drift along the commercial logic.

As you intimate, football does indeed reflects the wider realities; the stark decline of football you refer to reflected the economic decline and political conflicts of the 1970s and 80s and football supporters paid for this in terms of crumbling stadia and violence; and more recently the upward swing in football reflects its increasing commercialisation and supporters now pay for this both literally in high prices and ideologically as the terms of debate become ever more business-mined, until the point is reached when just where the money comes from (dictator or democrat) is less and less a source of concern and myopia rules concerning the long run consequences of a situation in which money can flow in to but can also flow out of clubs just as quickly.

Peter Kennedy
7   Posted 09/10/2008 at 10:56:09

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Christine you make a good point when stating, ?But it is how we change and what we hold on to that dictates the shape and destiny of a club we love and still want to see success.? Our point is that despite the contestations over the deployment of market language, the language of the market place is taking a grip on supporters to such an extent that any conceivable change or opinion about what we hold on to that bucks the realities of rampant commercialisation is ruled out of court as idealistic and naïve.
David Kennedy
8   Posted 09/10/2008 at 10:43:43

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Christine - you raise a lot of salient questions. You state though, that: "The race for the money is on. Can we afford to join the race or can we afford it if we don?t?". I’d suggest your previous comment about "being out of the league’" of the clubs competing for the game’s top prizes makes the question moot. Imo, we’re chasing a chimera in that respect.
Peter Kennedy
9   Posted 09/10/2008 at 10:57:00

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Art. The point of the paper is that language such as ?our brand is a registered company? and ?negligence in the extreme not to explore every revenue source available and advance our status? (which you deploy here) is the kind of business-speak ushered in by commercialisation that narrows supporter horizons to the best business case. The language comes across as ?level-headed? and ?realistic? and I?m sure you have, as many do, the best interests of the club at heart, but this sort of language simply echoes the dominance of the business ethic in football; an ethical practice which, if left unleashed, will destroy what we love about the game. We have only to look at the state bailout of big business under way right now to see just how idealistic and hedonistic, as opposed to ?realistic? are the language and practice of the market place.
Graham Atherton
10   Posted 09/10/2008 at 11:14:04

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If I understand your points correctly, you are saying that decisions & changes should be made with the agreement of fans - fans being the community you refer to.

The fact that more money was available to support a particular decision is not the only factor to be considered - in other words it should not be possible to site the Everton FC ?franchise? if it ever exists in the middle of Milton Keynes if a business model says we would make more money there? Similarly businesses should not be allowed prime viewpoints in a stadium solely because they pay more?

My opinion is that there has always been a compromise between the two, with business concerns directing the actions of the club, but with business interests intimately interwoven with the fans - they ARE the business.

Fans used to be quite tightly grouped around the stadium. That geographic community used to be the sole focus of the club, but now travel is so much easier communities are far more widely dispersed and the Everton FC community is no different. The minority of Everton FC support is resident in Liverpool - a recent survey stated that the average Everton fan lives 43 miles away! The community has changed and all that is happening now is that the stadium might be moving slightly - one tenth of the distance of that 43 miles - to offer us a far more comfortable stadium. The move is not an ideal situation, but in my view is tolerable. This move is not just about following money, it is about improving what the club offers its community - its whole community.


I think there is only one consistent desire in all of us fans - the desire to win. I don?t want the ?moneybags? clubs to split away without us because that is admitting defeat. I want us to take every course of action within our power to achieve that success again but yes there are limits, and those limits are already defined by the business itself - the fans.

Art Greeth
11   Posted 09/10/2008 at 11:26:07

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I think it is not simply a question of semantics as your reply implies, Peter. The fact is we ARE a registered brand. It WOULD be ?negligent in the extreme not to explore every revenue source available and advance our status?. Maintaining a professional football club at the highest IS an expensive business. The business-speak you seemingly take exception to is the appropriate language to use to describe the dilemma. It has nothing to do with trying to portray oneself as ?level-headed? and ?realistic?. Without real monies pouring into the club, Everton Football Club would cease to exist as we know it.

The business ethic and money has ALWAYS dominated professional football. To believe otherwise would be naïve. I doubt if there has ever been a golden age of professional football when there was a perfect balance between the governance of the club, its supporters and its playing staff. It is only in very recent years, for example, that top professional footballers have commandeered the ridiculous transfer fees and salaries that are now so commonplace. Because of the riches that are now coming in (AND flowing out of the game?) at the highest level of professional football, the issue has come into sharper focus than ever before. This very medium ? the Internet ? allows individual fans to express their views previously unheard and unthought. Again, not too long ago all that concerned fans was talk of the previous week?s game and the next match. Is it necessarily a bad thing that the Internet has helped democratise and educate, if you like, football supporters and given them access to information and a platform to speak their views previously denied? I would say ?no?.

I am not saying I ENDORSE the direction professional football at the highest level is taking. Nor am I taken in by the sops big business makes to its buying public with their ?Corporate Responsibility? statements, which is little more than disguised marketing in my eyes. But you and David both appear to think (in David?s words) that ?in chasing the "dream" of a Champions League place ?the brand? becomes compromised and even snuffed out as something that distinguishes us from the herd.?

What exactly are you arguing for here?? Mediocrity and oblivion??

Like it or not ? Everton Football Club is a professional sports team, competing in the most lucrative league in the world. The word ?competing? is key here. Because we are not only competing on the playing field. We are competing in the market place. And if we have serious ambitions ? as supporters, never mind the club management ? then we have to accept that to improve as a club, we need to chase the bucks too? If not, we WILL be usurped by clubs with greater ambition than our own.
David Kennedy
12   Posted 09/10/2008 at 12:26:22

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Graham - I think you underline one of the points made in the piece when you say "there are limits [to the colonisation of commercialisation] and those limits are already defined by the business itself - the fans." That thinking comes across in the Kirkby debate a lot and it underscores that a moral economy of the club "it?s our club" is still relevant and it often resides alongside that view you have of "fans being the business".

That?s what?s generated the heat in this debate, and it?s that struggle in the minds of supporters that means we haven?t yet been submerged by our club?s directors and marketing team into becoming the merchandise-buying drones they no doubt want.

But the future is uncertain in that respect. I think what we?re witnessing is the imminent immersal of Everton into the world of business and its effects on supporters are unchartered territory...remember, even with clubs like Chelsea who were earlier into this shitstorm it?s probably too early to assess how a club?s long term well being in terms of identity and club culture fair.

Peter Howard
13   Posted 09/10/2008 at 12:37:24

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Shouldn?t that read Sub-Prime clubs!
Christine Foster
14   Posted 09/10/2008 at 12:33:54

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Without the billionaires the Premier League is confined by good management and income from Sky, the fans and marketing of product. The effect of foreign ownership were millions are poured into a club to buy success is a significant threat to those clubs concerned and the future of the EPL.

The oil money glut in Arabia and Russia will end as will the involvement of the billionaires. What then?

I would contest that as a professional football club we compete at the highest possible level we are able to. BUT the price of doing so, as set out in the article, is at the cost of identity and tradition.

The club is a commercial entity but it has a soul. Its fanbase. If you gave the same fans the stark choice of 5 years of trophy success and then oblivion or playing well and existing for another 100 years, what would be the choice?

Football fans care about winning but they associate with the club for kinship, tradition, community, tribal roots and passion. Take that away and all you have is a business.

Peter Kennedy
15   Posted 09/10/2008 at 13:25:55

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Christine, I couldn?t agree more with your comment that, ?football fans care about winning but they associate with the club for kinship, tradition, community, tribal roots and passion. Take that away and all you have is a business?.

In a wider sense, the importance of football to the social fabric of society is plain for us to see and Government?s have recognised this too, as recognised by for example the Football Task Force set up in the late 1990s to look at ways of regulating the rampant commercialisation of football. Under government direction Football clubs have steadily increased their role in the community re racism awareness, youth coaching schemes, etc. Regardless of the success or otherwise of such developments, the crucial role of football in helping to develop and sustain social cohesion and the fabric of local communities has been at the forefront of government thinking.

My main point is if football is recognised as being much more of a business, both in terms of the game and in terms of the wider local context, then it would seem realistic (more realistic than billionaire bonanzas or bank bailouts) for local government, supporters and clubs to work towards mutual funding, ownership and control of clubs: why leave it to the market. Just by way of example (I?m not a fully paid up member of this idea) in the case of the City of Liverpool, local government could take responsibility for building a joint new stadium, overseeing the communal development of the spaces left by EFC and LFC footprints: not so much housing schemes but perhaps new green areas or football centres of excellence. For doing so, both clubs would allow supporter representatives and other community representatives a seat on the board.

The detail is not the issue ? it need not be a shared stadium ? the principle is, and the principle is this: if football is recognised as being so much more than a business by governments national and local, then how it is run and by whom it is run ought not to be solely based on the commercial mind-set currently imposing itself on the game. The present Labour Government is arguing much the same way about something much more profound: namely that high street banks are too important to be left to either themselves or the market, but must be ?mutualised? in the interest of society and community?

Graham Atherton
16   Posted 09/10/2008 at 12:49:54

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David - there is a fine gap between us - fagpaper in thickness. I am happy to trust that the fans limit the business ambition of any club as they are still the main source of income, you are less trusting in capitalism and worry Kirkby is a step too far.

You and Christine fear oblivion, for me risk is all part of the game and indeed part of life itself.

One central issue seems to be that for some this club is a sort of family, and they project the same protective feelings towards it as they would their biological family. For me it exists to win trophies and little more, it lives and dies trying to do that - there perhaps is the reason we differ.
David Kennedy
17   Posted 09/10/2008 at 13:57:59

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Graham - fair enough. I understand where you?re coming from. Dare I say it, it?s a point of view that?s usually associated with LFC! I?ve lost count of the number of times their "custodians" have said they are in the business of putting silverware in the cabinet. I suppose that?s not a claim our board have consistently been able to make... that?s why they market us as the *coughs* People?s Club.... for now.
;-)
Christine Foster
18   Posted 09/10/2008 at 14:01:28

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Graham indeed it is a key difference aptly put, to many of the fans, self included EFC IS family. It is a value instilled into us from the day we could walk or talk. It is enshrined in our mindset as a sense of belonging. For those, like yourself who view the club as a fan of the football and not the club, it is different.

Peter, for me the motives behind the commercialism of the club and the move to Kirkby is a fundamental example of why fans like Graham may see no alternative or frankly couldn?t care less, whilst those of my ilk believe that the motives of any move other than for the benefit of the club, its fans and in the tradition will always be questioned especially when such a move has been littered with half truths, silence and condemnation from the club to its own supporters.

In doing so the club has attacked the said social fabric and tradition of the club and called into question its continued existence as the family Everton. That it should be seen to be anything less than transparent and that a few who are charged with the stewardship of the club should make significant gain from breaking up the family not only conjures up anger but also condemnation. Who should profit from the break-up of a family?
Charlie Martin
19   Posted 09/10/2008 at 14:56:05

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Is Graham Atherton the only yes voter left? Nearly everyone else seems to have logical views on this subject and like me are probably still bemused as to why our club has offered us the Kirkby project as a way to commercially improve the club.

I normally keep politics way away from footy but Kenwright?s Kirkby is Blair?s Iraq.

So I?m not going to even pay Mr Atherton the respect the rest of you have by arguing any of his points. Michael K.. have you checked to see if all your contributors are blues? It may just be that the odd kopite or Kenwright plant operates on this feedback page.

To the main article authors, it was interesting but we must be more honest now and admit there?s no 50/50 split in the fans and I dont think opinions are too diverse. From what I see and hear we all are now much more in one ?no Kirkby camp? but we do accept a ground move within Liverpool and want to see us more commercially geared for the future. The fans do not want to move to a site that compromises our status, values, mid-term fanbase size etc.... we are becoming more and more concerned about this and what Kirkby will mean for the club in the mid-term..
Clyde McPhat
20   Posted 09/10/2008 at 17:08:58

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The current financial crisis is a foghorn blowing in the thickness as the Good Old Premier League heads for the rocks. Firstly, there is no way the stadium will be built in Kirkby or anywhere else until this storm of credit passes by. This move is no longer going to be on the table. If the RS can?t get a deal done with all the backing of two wealthy, albeit debt-ridden, Amerks, what chance do we have of getting money from any leander?

But the bigger picture is what happens when the club with AIG on their kit has their debt suddenly called in? Or when the Chelski?s lose their Sugar Russian Daddy? The whole thing collapses like a house of cards. The wage bills are enormous, and coupled with the transfer fees that are yet to paid on players who have already come and gone, the whole thing could be wiped out in an instant. Who knew that the West Ham money was built on the backs of Icelanders who were leveraging their houses for two times what they were worth? Has there ever been a time where you could logically say that there are 3 to 4 Prem clubs who could end up sliding into insolvency and receivership?

Can you imagine when we wake up one morning and find the Glazer?s needing to sell the naming rights to OT just to make the payroll? Who knew that AIG was selling stuff to people that neither side of the transaction understood? All of this has vast implications for the League and ultimately for our club. And if this discussion about how we keep the soul of Everton alive was talked about devoid of passion, the logical move would be ground-share. (I am not advocating this at all...just hear me out.)

All I?m saying is that if the RS can?t get a loan to build, we ain?t getting any money to build. My money is on us being in Goodison for easily another 5-8 years. And I can actually see us being in there a lot longer. If someone was coming in to buy us, that someone would have been here already. That someone might not now have the money anymore.

David Kennedy
21   Posted 09/10/2008 at 18:18:41

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Charlie ?

I take your point on the current state of the divide on Kirkby. It was pointed out, though, that the quotes were from the ballot period and that supporters have changed their attitude subsequently...though I?m not as sure as you that the Yes camp now comprises just Graham Atherton!

Clyde ?

spot on about the precarious nature of the Premier League. I?m not sure DK is getting stopped in its tracks because of the downturn ? though all logic dictates it should. My understanding is the club has taken out a very large loan just recently from its bank (they do still exist, apparently!). Is that to prove they have the wherewithal ahead of the inquiry?
Joeynkoo Ludden
22   Posted 09/10/2008 at 19:42:55

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Peter, David - I ain't received my royalty cheque yet for you guys directly quoting me in your paper... 50 squid should do it.. :)
Colin Wordsworth
23   Posted 09/10/2008 at 19:54:27

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David

I can assure you that there are still many Yes voters still out there, particularly where I sit in the Street End. I feel that the arguments are on hold until the result of the inquiry.
Peter Kennedy
24   Posted 09/10/2008 at 20:34:53

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Colin you may be right. Others have argued that a silent majority of yes voters are resting on their laurels. However, some find this hard to reconcile with the sustained critique from KEIOC and the ineptitude of the Everton Board during the run up to the plans eventual rejection, as it is reasonable to assume that it would have drawn them into taking part in and shaping the debate that subsequently unfolded on the internet.
Art Greeth
25   Posted 09/10/2008 at 20:41:00

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I like Christine?s comment that ?football fans care about winning but they associate with the club for kinship, tradition, community, tribal roots and passion. Take that away and all you have is a business?. But she then goes a step too far for me when she charges the club with ?attacking the social fabric and tradition of the club and called into question its continued existence as the family Everton ? (and) breaking up the family?.

Now if I?ve read and understand Christine and Peter correctly, they are concerned that the very localised community of Everton supporters within the immediate catchment area of Goodison Park are somehow being marginalised and disenfranchised by the commercial interests (obligations, even?) of the club. I personally question that view. I don?t deny, as Peter writes, that football IS important in relation to the social fabric of society. I would argue that both the ?close-to-home? family of Evertonians and the more remote members of the family ? for example, Christine is based in Australia, I am in Portugal ? are perhaps far more resilient than is being suggested.

Furthermore, I do not view ?big business? and capitalism as ONLY a threat to clubs such as Everton. It can also represent an opportunity. Like it or not, globalization is a fact, a part of modern day society. That facilitates corporations AND individuals being able to broadcast themselves and reach markets and other individuals across vast distances in an instance in ways previously unheard of. A successful strategy in extending your client base and thus improving your income streams and projecting your image to new markets is? to build a sense of community.

Of course, both Everton and Liverpool football clubs are woven into the very fabric of the city of Liverpool AND Greater Merseyside. That is not to say that either clubs? sphere of influence or ambition should be limited to ? say ? a 50 mile radius of the city. Good investment and marketing CAN consolidate the existing family, rather than break it up as Christine argues. More? it can EXTEND the family and embrace even greater numbers across the entire globe. I do not think that DILUTES the club?s relationship with its fans, or the fans affiliation to the club. Rather, it consolidates and builds on it.

I?ve earlier referred to Everton?s award-winning ?EFC in the community? schemes. As an example of the globalization and good governance (and marketing, if you like?) I allude to, who recalls on their tour to Thailand a couple of seasons back how Everton (thanks to both the club AND its supporters?) made a considerable contribution to helping local Thai communities to recover following the Asian Tsunami disaster?? Help in the community, even under the governance of ?big business? does not have to be limited to Liverpool postcodes. We maybe didn?t win a trophy for it, but? it made me proud as an Evertonian.

In conclusion, Peter in particular seems to be arguing for some Soviet-style social programming to ?protect? football clubs and their immediate communities, apparently with Government legislation if necessary. Here, I side strongly with Graham: ?risk is all part of the game and indeed part of life itself?. I prefer the club to stand or fall within a free market rather than one over-legislated by? who, exactly??
Peter Kennedy
26   Posted 09/10/2008 at 20:39:43

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Joeynkoo it?s in the post: I?m reliably informed by Alastiar Darling that the new value for 50 squid is now 25 blue kippers, hope you like them?
Dave Wilson
27   Posted 09/10/2008 at 19:24:47

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It has to be admitted that it is possible to buy your way into the CL.
Rich clubs owned by billionaires undoubtedly have a huge advantage, but it's only an advantage, not a guarantee; it is still possible to compete at the very top through good management, ambition, hard work and skill.

English football is a shit-pit at the moment. The artistry displayed in the Italian and Spanish league is sacrificed to satisfy the Sky viewers demand for high-speed crash, bang, wallop. Hatred spews down from our stands, from huge sections of our crowds, Sol Campbell's recent treatment is a shocking reminder of that. Greedy players, managers and agents taking money from the game so fast, even Sky are struggling to keep up.

The Sky money will dry up, Abramovich will tire of his latest hobby, as too will the Middle Eastern family at City. The Yanks will line their pockets and scarper, leaving Man U and Liverpool a far less heathy condition than they were... he he, not all bad then!

My blood runs cold at the thought of My Club losing its heritage and identity, by moving to a second-rate stadium in the middle of nowhere, just to enable a few people to profit by entering into some sort of Faustian deal with a grubby little opportunist looking to make a quick kill before the bubble bursts. Or that it becomes the plaything of some semi-interested billionaire.

Taking on the wealthy clubs is an enormous job, the weak-willed need not apply... but it's not impossible ? bigger disadvantages are overcome every day, in every walk of life.

English football needs an example, proof that the game hasn't completely lost its soul, it needs a club that can stand toe to toe with the the clubs who have sold out.

I would not be broken hearted if that clubs was to be Everton.
David Kennedy
28   Posted 09/10/2008 at 20:25:50

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Joe -

a cracking quote it was too!
I?ve got all my accounts tied up in Icelandic banks so you might have to wait for that half a ton.

;-)

Colin - I?m sure you?re right. 15,000 people won't all quickly or easily admit they may have made an uninformed choice. However, and without overstating the case, I think KEIOC?s ability to get across the finer details of the Kirkby move, whilst keeping alive the prospect of alternatives to it has, had a big impact.
Peter Kennedy
29   Posted 09/10/2008 at 20:45:10

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Art, I respect your views about globalisation and free markets, these views are widespread, but it doesn?t make them right or me a Stalinist if I err from such beliefs. I wasn?t arguing for anything, but simply putting forward an example of mutualism (a far cry from Stalinism). In turn I would ask you to consider carefully though whether or not such a thing as free markets exist when all the evidence points to large corporations either dominating markets or seeking bailouts from the state?

I fully concur with your point about communities being something one chooses as much as one is geographically located in and Everton supporters embrace both. Indeed, ?community? is a slippery concept, as you demonstrate when expounding on market-driven communities. And you are correct EFC plc likes to build such ?community networks' abroad.

Colin Wordsworth
30   Posted 09/10/2008 at 21:13:38

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David

I agree that KEIOC have done a fantastic job on behalf of the no voters, however everything is academic until the final decision is made.

Hopefully the rumoured multi billionaire comes in and gives us the viable option that nobody, not even KEIOC have been able to do.

At the moment DK has no rival at the same money.
Harry Reynalds
31   Posted 09/10/2008 at 21:21:35

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I was reading one of Simon Inglis?s stadium books of Europe and I came across this quote which sums it up for me really:

"Despite the appaling death tolls at Bradford in 1985 and Hillsborough in 1989, fans all over Europe continue to talk with affection of "le stade a l?anglais" and "das typisch englische Stadion". By that way they refer not only to the absence of running tracks, but also to the sense of tradition which permeates English grounds. This is not something which can be dismissed lightly. It is real and helps explain why England sustains the largest national league in Europe and enjoys comparatively high attendences throughout its four divisions. Inner-city stadiums, tightly enclosed, with an identity even for differentiated sections within the ground, creates a sense of belonging seldom found in a featureless superbowl"
Peter Kennedy
32   Posted 09/10/2008 at 21:31:18

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As you say Clyde, the bigger picture looks bleak. And Dave, I do tend to agree with your sentiments.

Moreover, IF the financial crisis should turn into a broader economic downturn as looks likely, then what would the likely outlook be?

We might speculate along the following lines (remember it is only speculation): the current business strategy for growth ? enabling deals with various partnerships (whether Tesco-Kirkby, OR other deals within the City) ? may be sunk because they are predicated on access to cheaply available debt finance and the related consumer spending spree necessary for expanding hotels and/or leisure which would no longer exist. Why build more hotels and shopping malls in a downturn? Pre-downturn, when things are rosy and money cheap and abundant, etc, then the pragmatism of no voters searching out business sector enablers to provide an alternative stadium in the city (or indeed the money to rebuild Goodison) is entirely understandable. However a downturn, should it transpire, may lay waste to such a strategy. This opens the door for the only other serious alternative PRIVATE SECTOR BUSINESS solution: namely, to be taken over by a wealthy outside investor from abroad.

At this point perhaps the real fault lines separating supporters, previously submerged by the Kirkby yes/no standoff, begin to emerge: namely, between those who want success through a business solution at virtually any price and those who value the long term identity and stability of the club, who may even be willing to contemplate short term lack of success on the field?
The former are presented with a high risk strategy because the kind of outside investors we are talking about have a) by definition no ties or real responsibilities to the club, which is simply a vehicle for investing their economic capital and securing some social capital for themselves in the process and b) are as prone to the volatilities of the global economy as the rest of the business community. Such a solution also presents a moral hazard of the worst kind for Everton supporters because it is more likely than not that Mr or Mrs money-bags from abroad buying in to the club are part of governing elites with no democratic accountability, who have earned their massive wealth holdings in not too savoury ways.

Under this scenario, those supporters who value the long term identity and stability of the club may be presented with seeking local solutions. For example, one would be the slower paced refurbishment of Goodison, an emphasis on youth development and a move away from high wage policies as a means of attracting talented players. This solution risks mediocrity measured by the success of elite clubs (should the latter survive). Nevertheless, such policies are similar to those adopted by well respected clubs abroad such as Athletic Bilbao (all be it for different cultural reasons). Moreover, if a downturn develops then it would not be too fanciful to hear more of mutualism as a way forward, where clubs, supporters, communities and local government enter a partnership to run the football club on a democratic, mutual, not for profit basis.

So where might this leave us? It might leave us recognising that, In the context of this scenario of a downturn, the real fault lines are not so much the Kirkby no/yes divide (which is all too real) but also those which run between markets strategies and forms of not-for-profit mutualism as alternative strategies?
Christine Foster
33   Posted 09/10/2008 at 21:22:22

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Art, in context please, I stated that by the custodians conduct in the Kirkby debacle, through their half truths, silence and condemnation of the fans they have torn the fabric of family Everton. That was my point.

Secondly, I agree that families can be extended or located in all parts of the globe, but we always know where our home and heart is. I was born on Scotland Road, grew up there and worked in my Dad?s grocery shop opposite St Antony's. Everton FC where and still are an important part of the way of life in the city more so than any other area. You live, eat sleep EFC with a passion with others of similar mindset.

It is different from supporting a club from a foreign land where most people don't even know where or who EFC are. It's actually harder to be a supporter out of the community than in it. But I have done both.

That's why there is a passion and an ownership for the club in the city. That's why there is fierce debate because when a family is threatened the natural instinct is too protect and fight for the values you hold dear.

Over the past 40 years we have seen the heart ripped out of the city and seen it rebuild itself but there has been constants that have been held dear, Anfield and Goodison Park to both sets of supporters have provided the community with a focal point of stability for so long. It has also held the expats both overseas and outside of Merseyside together as part of their social tradition.

Change for the right reasons and the right location is not just about needing to compete with the money bags its about the survival of the soul of the club and its supporters.

Art Greeth
34   Posted 09/10/2008 at 22:18:34

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Steady, Peter? I didn?t call you a Stalinist, nor would I. I think my observation ? that you seem to be arguing for Soviet-style social programming ? was justified, based on your words: ?? it would seem realistic ? for local government, supporters and clubs to work towards mutual funding, ownership and control of clubs: why leave it to the market? ... local government could take responsibility for building a joint new stadium ? both clubs would allow supporter representatives and other community representatives a seat on the board ? if football is recognised as being so much more than a business by governments national and local, then how it is run and by whom it is run ought not to be solely based on the commercial mind-set currently imposing itself on the game ? ?

That strikes me as being way too interventionist and, potentially, even more destabilising to the club with such a hotch-potch of interested parties governing it. Nor, can I add in my defence, do I endorse the level of government financial support being handed out to the very institutions that have created the current global financial crisis, although I can understand the rationale behind it.

As to your most recent post, I feel again ? as in your original piece ? you are too glib in categorising supporters across the divide in too narrow terms. There are many, MANY more supporters, I believe, who recognize the need to have a satisfactory business solution NOT ?at any price? as you state, but who also desire and ?value the long term identity and stability of the club?. As I stated earlier, it is not a question of ?either / or?, but one of ?and / and?.

Christine, I don?t believe I took anything you said out of context. Nor did I make comment on your claim that the conduct of the current custodians of the club ?have torn the fabric of family Everton (apart sic)?. Now you?ve raised it again, I will simply state it is not a view a subscribe to.

Finally, whilst I can understand it to a degree, I don?t fully subscribe to (what I consider?) the rather closed, parochial view that only a true native of the city can claim to fully comprehend what it is to be an Evertonian. As Peter has already commented, ?communities are something one chooses as much as one is geographically located in?.
Rob Szuplewski
35   Posted 09/10/2008 at 22:19:40

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I have read the comments on this site for a while now.

The economy has changed forever, I have a sneaky feeling that Everton may justy be sitting pretty at present.

Just like a first time buyer who wisely pulled out of a market on the cusp of a fall. They could have been up to their eyes in debt, but are sitting, waiting patiently.

I was glad to see Everton nowhere near as indebted as many other Premier League clubs.

Everton will not attract 50,000 to Kirkby - ever.

Liverpool will never build a new ground.

We need to ride this recession out.

Some billionaires are no longer so... and the top 4 clubs are becoming a drain on their reduced finances.

I think that we should redevelop Goodison and leave it at 40,000; here?s what we do and it will cost very little ? let?s face it, the poor old ground has never had much spent on it.

First, extend the Park End (+6,000)
Next, reprofile Bullens and Gwladys Street to single decker (-6,000).
Next, wait and wait and wait.
Derek Thomas
36   Posted 10/10/2008 at 05:34:22

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To be or not to be? that is the question, I think that is what Christine is saying.

Do we run the Football Club as a business...or

Are we in the Football Club business

How far do we push each is the only question.

Rob Szuplewski may be right.

I feel that we have forgotten that football, while being a business is in the entertainment business and I don’t think that the saying ’ that we are in the business of making money ’...and as a big wig at Fords said to me in the late 80,s ’ If we could make money without cars, there wouldn’t be so much as a nut and bolt here ’ (Halewood ) is or should be our prime objective.

What makes me smile, as Los Kennedy’s say both sides use elements of the same arguments...basically...

If we DO / DON’T the Club will end up in the Coca Cola Championship.... one of them is wrong, hopefully.

Worst case scenario; BOTH ARE RIGHT

Things are up in the air financially now, for how long and how bad is anybodies guess

As Bob says ’ The wheels still in spin, the loser now will later win.

My own preference is;

1) I’d rather share than go to Kirkby, coz I don’t think the much vaunted revenue streams are in any way shape or form deliverable ( even before the meltdown ) and the pittance they MIGHT bring is not worth the loss of my Royal Blue Soul.

2) Develop Goodison one piece at a time as and when it is possible, even if it takes 20 yrs. After all, no matter what the scare mongers would have you believe it won’ t fall down to-morrow.

Thus fulfilling both criteria.

Financially pragmatic and prudent

Emotional, waves one untarnished Royal Blue Soul for all to see, especially RS’s

Tom Hughes
37   Posted 10/10/2008 at 07:02:41

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Derek,
Pretty much "on the money" I’d say...... well put!
peter kennedy
38   Posted 10/10/2008 at 08:35:49

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Art you did in fact write soviet-style not Stalinism in reference to my example ? I stand corrected and I?m pleased that you acknowledge there is a very big difference between them.
There are one or two points I?d like to raise with you. I don?t understand why you think mutual partnership among supporters, community groups, club and local government in the running of Everton amount to a ?hotch-potch of interested parties???
On the issue of glib divisions: The analogy of ?fault lines? which I refer to caters for lots of complex movement either side of the line and applied to football does imply that supporters vary, not that greatly, but do vary nevertheless, over business strategy. This variance is hopefully echoed in the paper. When writing the paper we were guided by the insight that ?divides? and ?fault lines? go hand in glove with lots of variability and are not simple either ors. In the current economic climate there is lots of variability and uncertainty, but there is also the strong possibility that a business solution of the scale required to establish Everton in a new stadium and in a position to compete financially with the elite EPL clubs, may well place the long term security of the club in jeopardy. On this point I part company with your belief that both complement each other: that business and the ?free market? will also deliver Everton long term security. So when you state that ?it is not a question of ?either / or?, but one of ?and / and?, my position is that it can sometimes be both, but that in the current climate it is much the more likely to be ?either / or?. This is where we differ fundamentally.
David Kennedy
39   Posted 10/10/2008 at 09:50:56

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Quote of the day. Stand up Mr Elstone and take a bow:

"like it or not, football is a business, commanding huge revenues, employing household names and embracing significant economic and social responsibilities. In my view, we (fans) cannot accept the cash to build stadia and invest in players and then turn around and dictate how the business is run. We cannot have our cake and eat it. The best way to run such businesses ?football businesses, is the same way it is done in any other business ? the long-established and rigorously tested corporate model - regulated properly with effective checks and balances ? the banking sector perhaps excepted! I?d add two key things in conclusion, firstly, any business, any football club that does not listen to its customers or fans and does not respond to their needs and demands will fail. In that sense, in my opinion, there?s inherent and genuine fan ownership in every successful football club."



"...regulated properly with effective checks and balances". This from the man who recently rigged the rules against small shareholders to stop...err...checks and balances.

So there you have it. Somehow, get yourselves around the credit crunch and support the club through the turnstile and merchandising, but dont expect any leverage at the big table.



Art Greeth
40   Posted 10/10/2008 at 10:30:37

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Thanks for your acknowledgement on the Stalinist comment Peter.

As for my observation of the ?hotch-potch of interested parties?, I think that is what a committee of supporters, community groups, club and local government running Everton amounts to and is fraught with difficulties. The company articles and terms of engagement in the day to day running of the club would need to be very, very clearly scripted for such a union to even begin to function effectively. That?s even before we get to the contentious issue of just who is nominated to represent the different groups you propose, how they are elected into (and out of?) office, how their roles are defined in the set up, what executive and veto powers they have, and what constitutes the different parties percentage of voting power in the overall scheme of things. That?s just off the top of my head.

Going back to your original paper, as I mentioned in my first post in the thread I understand you and David?s need to be concise and minimally selective on the posts you used for the piece. Now if you were simply saying that - ironically if you will - both camps are using business-speak to argue and support their case, and further, that most (I think it is a fair presumption?) do NOT have a full and comprehensive grasp of financial issues at the highest level, I would whole-heartedly agree with you. Thankfully, thanks to the democratisation ? and anarchy! ? of the Internet, nobody is or should be excluded or precluded from the debate and offering a position on the financial (and social?) implications for Everton Football Club, regardless of their depth of knowledge or lack of it on high finance and other aspects.

You have consistently argued that a certain following of Evertonians regard the ?invest at all costs? as the ONLY way to go, whilst another group are SOLELY concerned with the ?heart and soul? of the club (I?ve simplified things in their barest terms for economy ? not economy of truth, I hope!). I believe I have consistently argued in this thread that supporters from BOTH camps have an amalgamation of the two viewpoints. Therefore, my charge that your demarcation of the pro and anti Kirkby camps is too glib and simplistic remains a valid one, IMO. You and David say: ?The difficulty, though, is coming to some agreement about what we want our club to be: community asset or a commodity pump-primed with money to purchase trophies..?? I continue to stand by my opinion that we CAN have both ? ?and / and?, rather than be restricted to ?either / or? which you continue to argue for.

Finally, I am very, VERY conscious and aware Peter that in the current economic climate there is the potential for yet more volatility and uncertainty. I am equally aware that in such a climate there is also a window of opportunity for the bold and the astute. Why presume the worst and conclude that any investment or stadium move at this time ?may well place the long term security of the club in jeopardy..?? The flip side of that coin is? ?the moves the club is trying to make GUARANTEE the long term security of the club?.

And as pleasurable as our exchange has been Peter, what do you and I truly know? Both of us ? perhaps ALL contributors on the future destination of the club ? are indulging in nothing more than speculation, based on facts ... presumptions ? scaremongering and outright lies, in some cases. No one, but no one, can definitively say they KNOW what will be the future of our club should we leave or stay at Goodison Park, with or without inward investment.

But it ain?t gonna stop anybody having fun talking and writing about it!
Art Greeth
41   Posted 10/10/2008 at 10:32:31

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Sorry David, but I think your last post sullies what has been a very good thread.

You extrapolate two completely unrelated events, attribute to Elstone with inflammatory language an act he could not be solely responsible for, an act he may not even have had any influence over, and arrive at a sneering conclusion.

Like it or not, the change to the shareholders? option to call an EGM is now in line with widely accepted corporate practise. Like it or not, it was deemed necessary because the actions of a few was threatening to call monthly EGMs as a means to? what, exactly?

Try and maintain the balance you and Peter have achieved in this thread until now.
Graham Atherton
42   Posted 10/10/2008 at 09:28:03

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Perhaps a more emotional response is required here. I have been an Evertonian since I watched us lose to West Brom in the FA cup final in 1968 on a black & white TV set.

I was one of only two Evertonians in school classes full of Liverpool supporters throughout the 70’s - supporters of a team that won and won and won again at the highest level so I know more than a little of the pain that being an Everton supporter brings on a Monday morning.

I wanted that to change back then, and I do now. The whole football world has changed since then and it is an unarguable fact that those with the most money win the most matches.

I ’care’ for the club as much as anyone - my weekend is ruined along with everyone else here when we lose. I make no apologies when I say I want Everton FC to be winners.

Why do we lose? Why do Manchester United win and why are they one of the ’richest clubs in the world’? They drew up a business plan and stuck to it. I remember the glee in the 70’s & 80’s when they lost and it was partly because they were derided for being ’business oriented’ - indeed they still are. They took risks - calculated risks - and they paid off.

So - lets take the good parts of the Man U business model and the good parts of being a community club and try to put them together in Everton football club - that is what the current regime are trying to do.

Yes the physical move isn’t what anyone wants but in our situation we have no right to expect to be able to afford that massive stadium - and this is a way we can. If our financial situation changes then that imperative changes too.

Despite the current unease in financial markets we still live in a capitalist world and risk is a fully engrained part of that.
Christine’s 5 years of success followed by oblivion is rather over the top for me but nonetheless possible, just as 5 years of success followed by a further 50 years of success is possible.

What is ’oblivion’ for a football club? Teams with histories as big as ours play their games these days in the far reaches of the lower leagues supported by a few thousand - is that not oblivion in footballing terms?

We take pride in our history - but that history is studded with times when our forefathers took risks - not the least being the original ground move across the park.


Cursory glances at club demographics (http://www.premierleague.com/staticFiles/2f/6d/0,,12306~93487,00.pdf) show Everton have one of the most reliable cores of support indicated by the reasons given for season ticket sales, one of the least local support (average 46 miles away) and the poorest stadium sightlines by a long way. Close to the highest lapsed season ticket rate in the country speak volumes.

Taking a look at the latest figures (2007/8 http://www.premierleague.com/staticFiles/67/f8/0,,12306~129127,00.pdf) we are clearly and most worryingly the lowest club in the league for new supporters.

The overall message is that the club is slowly dying already - it has lots of loyalty from existing fans (though they are tending not to renew season tickets) but few new fans coming in. if we stay where we are and worry about risk too much we are already doomed to Christine’s oblivion.

If we give it our best shot and come up short at least we go down as a football team doing what football teams should and not as a club without enough faith in its own supporters to take another risk.


David Kennedy
43   Posted 10/10/2008 at 10:54:35

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Art - I think the only balance we aim at here is to keep an open mind on what may or may not be possible now vis-a-vis a stadium solution. On the issue of governance I think we nailed our colours to the mast on that score so it could hardly be a bolt from the blue to read my reaction to the Elstone piece.

Without having the evidence to prove it, I doubt very much that Elstone hasn?t instigated that change to the club?s Articles of Association...and if it wasn?t him then someone?s doing his job for him (perhaps that?s why he?s only ?acting? CEO? ;-) ).

All told, though, this type of hard-nosed, clumsy intervention into the debate over how far tradition and identity can sit within the football business before it becomes inconvenient sort of neatly sums up how out of whack club owners and their hired help are with most of us.

Thanks Mr Elstone.

Peter Kennedy
44   Posted 10/10/2008 at 10:59:01

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Art I?m impressed by your optimism but far from one over by it, although I?d be very interested to know which particular ?window of opportunity for the bold and the astute? could be opening for Everton in this financial and economic meltdown? Mr Elstone?s optimism does seem to be born on textbook neo-classical economics, which depicts a world of little businesses where success depends on healthy competition, market symmetry and attuning to consumer demand and applying this textbook approach to the running of a football club, which is an interesting concept, even if it does struggle vainly to compete with economic realities.

You don?t think mutual partnerships are workable and technically difficult, but you do view the present board?s capacity to change the rules to suit their own position as acceptable if not a fait accompli, fine. Again this highlights the difference between us, which I?m happy to maintain.

It would be interesting to look at the way other clubs in Europe organised on a mutual partnership basis actually run their clubs affairs, perhaps then we could draw some meaningful comparisons, as opposed to speculation (as you say).

On speculation from non-experts: show me an economic/management expert who isn?t speculating right now? We?re in hallowed company mate! I?m much more optimistic about putting my trust (the reverse of ?risk? in many ways) in mutual partnerships and not the Everton board. You may say this optimism is born of naivety while I would say yours is too. Again happy to disagree and let events decide.

By the way, you do still caricature our position re the paper, but that?s okay.
Peter Kennedy
45   Posted 10/10/2008 at 11:38:47

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Derek, well put ? money should not be the prime objective in football as it clearly is in business. Re your reflection on Ford: reading the finances today it now seems Ford cannot make money either with or without cars and I don?t need to tell you who will feel most of the pain of their ?restructuring?, or who will bear most of the risks!
Graham Atherton
46   Posted 10/10/2008 at 12:03:01

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Hi Christine
I certainly hope that I haven’t communicated a ’couldn’t care less’ attitude to the future of Everton FC as a club/team or community.

I care very much indeed and it is that care that has led me to write what I do and think the way I do. I care very much that I see a great club in decline and I care enough to try to look at the forces underlying that failure. That fact that I reach different conclusions to yourself and others is a different matter.

Take a read of the Premiership surveys I gave links to above. They show that the true community of support is quite different to that occasionally portrayed here. Everton’s shortcomings and strengths become clearer and are there in black and white, likewise the strength of the Premiership.

I do realise that this change could be tough on everyone, but those changes are far from insurmountable especially for such a loyal fanbase.

Perhaps this is all now moot anyway if finances have become too difficult for now, or perhaps there is a buyer signing documents as we speak - who really knows other than the club.
Christine Foster
47   Posted 10/10/2008 at 14:07:59

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Graham, I don?t believe you have shown a couldn?t care less attitude either but your right when you say we have reached different conclusions with respect to the underlying causes to our club's decline.

I really have a couple of key issues that for me just won't go away. I am not against a move (if any is viable in the current state of affairs) but I believe that redevelopment or a move in similar fashion to RS is needed / more acceptable, that is a move to a location as close to EFC towards the centre if possible, I like the loop because Scotland Road was a heartland of support (and still is) for EFC. I see that as in keeping with the tradition and roots of the club.

Secondly I have grave concerns over the motives for the move, the association with Tesco, the exclusivity agreement and despite the soundings of some, the real kicker is the probable killing the directors would make in selling the club on the basis of such a move. One only has to look at the recent speculation to see figures of £250m mentioned. Such amounts, even after a £90m debt is cleared leaves shareholders with a cash windfall of approx £50m each for the 3 main shareholders.
That surely would be seen as a conflict of interest in any decision making over relocation. I have often said that buying the club does little to enhance the team as any new buyer would have to pay, in this case, £250m just to sit at the table.

If we take our Acting CEO words as gospel and we can't have our cake and eat it then someone should tell the directors.
Art Greeth
48   Posted 10/10/2008 at 14:35:35

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Peter, a contrarian position 12 months ago when the sub-prime crisis first hit America and a contrarian position now when people are offloading their investments and the like is an example of a ?window of opportunity for the bold and the astute?. Rest assured, there are traders out there who relish a bear market, waiting to snap up temporarily deflated bargains.

I cannot be specific in what could possibly be an opening for Everton in this financial and economic meltdown. I am not that au fait with all matters financial, or the particular circumstances of the club and its competitors within the Premier League.

You and others have alluded to reports this week on the vulnerability of some of those competitors. Possibly a long complained about situation at the club ? a lack of inward investment ? may perversely actually count in our favour at this time. I cannot categorically state that is the case. Can you? However, it is a non-sequitur, IMO, to believe that should remain the case if we are fully to take advantage of the potential disarray of our nearest competitors, with the view of leapfrogging them in both football and economic terms, whilst simultaneously securing the club?s long term future.

I repeat again what you seemingly condemn as Mr Elstone?s unmerited optimism: you cannot choose to ignore the considerable finances involved in the running of a professional sports club and view it as somehow prostituting the club, selling out its fans, history and ?soul?. I fully appreciate the emotive pull allegiance to a football club has for its followers. But important decisions cannot be taken on emotion alone. A degree of pragmatism has to be taken, too.

On a broader note, capitalism and the whole free market system is based on speculation. I don?t believe I?ve claimed otherwise. Similarly, nowhere in this thread have I expressed faith or trust ? blind or otherwise ? towards the Everton board. Nor am I totally opposed to a mutual partnership you propose. Of the major European clubs, I am only vaguely aware of Barcelona and I think Stuttgart in Germany operating something like this. If I am doubtful of its viability for Everton FC it is perhaps with good reason. Whilst supporters occasionally make a lot of noise in this context, when it comes to action they generally start looking at the ground and start shuffling their feet. Similarly, given their track record until now, I don?t have much confidence in the ability of Liverpool City Council to be competent partners in the package you are proposing.

Essentially, I believe we both wish the same for the club: retain and build on our core support (local and global), maintain and continue our historic ties and all that entails, secure the long term future of the club (I would add at the highest level of professional football), good governance, and SUCCESS ON THE FIELD! We apparently differ on how best to achieve that. I am possibly more optimistic than you that it can be achieved. That?s just my nature in life in general, I guess. I haven?t achieved what I have in life by always taking the safe option? and a quick glance at the club?s history will inform you, nor has Everton Football Club.

PS ? there are some pretty stark findings in the links Graham provided about the demographics of Everton?s support which are contrary to some popular beliefs propagated by the anti-Kirkby camp. As he states, there is evidence that our core support ? one of the things you rightly care about ? is already dwindling even though we are still housed at Goodison Park. How do you explain that and how best to address it??
Michael Kenrick
49   Posted 10/10/2008 at 14:44:22

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Graham

Could I ask you to re-post the comment above with the survey links as a new mailbag entry? I’d do it but it wouldn’t be linked to you in the database. I think we need to get a wider discussion going on some of those points.

Thanks
Peter Kennedy
50   Posted 10/10/2008 at 16:19:22

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Graham, you wrote,
?one of the least local support (average 46 miles away) and the poorest stadium sightlines by a long way. Close to the highest lapsed season ticket rate in the country speak volumes. Taking a look at the latest figures (2007/8 http://www.premierleague.com/staticFiles/67/f8/0,,12306~129127,00.pdf) we are clearly and most worryingly the lowest club in the league for new supporters.

Yet the Premier Fan Survey 2007/8 does not paint as pessimistic picture:
The Report states that Everton fans live on average 46 miles from ground (the average is 49, where Arsenal reside on the graph) with LFC 82 and MUF about 78. So EFC core support is more local than many Premiership clubs. One positive aspect of this trend, noted elsewhere in the Report, is that the wider the support area is then the more non-season ticket supporters a club attracts (who attend on average only 7 home games and do so less out of loyalty and more for the thrill of a live experience) relative to season ticket supporters (who on average attend 18 home games for reasons associated with long term affiliation to their club). In other words, the larger the support radius from the ground the more likely clubs are to draw on supporters who adopt more of a customer approach to the club and the game they watch.

Again, while Everton having one of the lowest new fan base (attending regularly in last 4 years), is a concern, this is tempered by the related fact that this category of fan is more likely to be non-season ticket holding and have reasons other than team loyalty but ?match atmosphere? as motivating force.

On the subject of lapsed season ticket holders: there was no general trend data evident, but instead a breakdown of why season ticket holders laps, among many other categories (including cost, etc) it was mentioned that time constraints was a factor for some fans for lapsed season ticket holders, citing Everton 63%, Fulham 69%, Wigan 67%. There was no reference to any fundamental slide in season ticketing holding re Everton.

While we would all like to see Everton doing better in all departments, I cannot find grounds to agree with you in the pessimistic spin you give to the data
http://www.premierleague.com/staticFiles/67/f8/0,,12306~129127,00.pdf
Stephen Stuart
51   Posted 10/10/2008 at 17:28:20

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All this debate is still not bearing any fruit.

I?ve just heard that Charlton Athletic have been bought by a group from Dubai... Charlton Athletic!!!

Maybe someone who owns a Tinned Rhubarb company will come in for Everton.
Peter Kennedy
52   Posted 10/10/2008 at 17:55:54

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With Everton rumoured to have recently secured another £30 million of debt in a climate in which debt is the new bin laden, Richard Scudamore?s claim that debt is ?inevitable and acceptable? must have been music to Elstone?s ears, until the fraction of time it took him to digest Scudamore?s proviso that debt is only ?acceptable? as long as ?the level of debt is proportionate to income and levels of risk?. Everton?s current attempt to secure another £30 million worth of debt to, among other things, help pay the interest on its existing mountain of debt, is surely an example of Scudamore?s definition of ?unacceptable? and hazardous in the current economic climate especially? In this respect, it would appear that Triesman?s urgent message to EPL clubs to ?stop hiding ?toxic debts? through complicated ownership and debt repackaging methods? is falling on deaf ears amongst the present custodians of Everton football club (http://www.fsf.org.uk/news/TriesmanslamsPremierLeaguedebt.php).

Indeed, Elstone appears to be in denial about the whole thing, when insisting that Everton are engaged in a much more sensible enterprise he calls ?managed debt?. It seems this kind of debt is okay because it has ?been part of the way in which football has financed itself since the day it went professional?. To make his point, Elstone caricatures Platini as one of those envious of the EPL who want to ban debt. Elstone is of course aware of the caricature but thinks it neatly paves the way to his own version of ?sensible debt?: for surely, Elstone ponders, Platini means ?sensible debt?, in which case, ?we need to define ?sensible? and observes that we need not look much further that ?Chelsea?s debts?, which ?are sensible in the context of their owner’s wealth? (http://www.evertonfc.com/news/is-football-feeling-the-pinch.html ).

In a situation where billions are currently being vaporised on the stock exchanges and states are throwing £trillions into the black holes the City call derivatives and futures trading, just how sensible is that! Elstone goes on to assert that, relative to his business model, the ?fan or customer ownership? posited as a way forward by some, is an alien business model?. Is it any more alien than the business model Everton?s present custodians are seemingly willingly locked in to? That is the question.
Graham Atherton
53   Posted 11/10/2008 at 10:57:29

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I?m not so sure that to be in capital debt is the worst position to be in at the moment. On the contrary holding cash in an unstable bank is the action that has brought the owners of West Ham apparently to their knees?

The cost of debt is falling, surely those carrying debt are better off?

The difficulty is in obtaining new debt, and that money is available to those with lots of collateral.

Those that have spent money they think they are going to get in those years after the end of the current Sky deal are at risk if they have over-reached ? and that includes owners as well as clubs. Given that the cost of supporting Everton?s overdraft and loan is approximately £6-7 million that isn?t the main potential problem ? long-term contracts to staff are more worrying.

If an owner has come into a club and funded wages through his own pocket, breaking the link between income and expenditure then that club is at high risk if millions of his cash disappear and he can no longer fund the wages ? there is no fallback. Everton have never been able to follow that ?business model? due to lack of a billionaire owner, so their debt is better underpinned by income ? less risk, better management.
EJ Ruane
54   Posted 13/10/2008 at 12:46:31

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I have supported Keioc for a while now and must say a big well done on their latest idea. American's might be angry when they find out but fuck em' - they voted Bush in twice.

http://www.tsgnet.com/pres.php?id=357563&altf=LJSCZ&altl=OPXBZF



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