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COLUMNIST KEVIN SPARKE

Impotent Indifference is 'In'

By Kevin Sparke :  18/08/2009 :  Comments (33) :

Back in the dark ages of the 1970s, before Sky TV had the bright idea to ‘invent’ football, I was sitting in my season ticket seat wondering to myself, “Can it get any worse than this?” The game was Everton v Liverpool... the score was a 0 – 5 massacre; largely at the hands of Mr Rush. I wasn’t yet 20 and there and then resolved to abandon football as a spectator sport and take up snooker or water polo or anything rather than subject myself to the kind of humiliation I’d just undergone and the piss taking I was going to face from the hoard of gobshite Reds who I worked with.

Now I’m not quite 50 and feel exactly the same way – that 1 – 6 defeat by a magnificent Arsenal side (Who, incidentally were missing some key players and were in second gear for much of the game) could well be the final straw for me. I’ve never been so embarrassed to be an Evertonian – never! It was an awful, awful performance. No class, no ideas; no shape – no guts

As a supporter your power is limited. What are your options to register discontent? Well, if you pay your money up front for a season ticket the club already has your cash; so staying away won’t make much difference; cup games apart... perhaps that’s an idea? If you are a casual supporter who picks his games; you can pick fewer. You can stop buying the merchandise and the half time pie and a pint – that will really show em!

Or you can boo the team; chant for the manager’s head; form a discontented mob and linger around the players’ entrance baying for blood and demanding change. Perhaps the Sky Sports News team will turn up and you’ll be able to foam at the mouth in front of an audience of not quite millions and demand the manager’s head; the chairman’s head or plead for a ‘messiah’? – like so many Geordies have done over the past couple of years.

The problem with this strategy is that the rest of the football world will piss themselves laughing at your discontented outrage bordering on lunacy – I know I did when the ‘Wor Kev’ brigade were on the telly every night! Brilliant entertainment – almost as good as ‘The Street’ ... and look where Newcastle United are now?

Or perhaps you favour direct action? Why not get a tin of paint and write obscenities on the manager’s garden fence or write anonymous poison pen letters in green ink threatening the manager’s/chairman’s family and kids; kick the manager if he drops your favourite player? All of which has already been done by the lunatic fringe at our club?

I’m sorry but I can’t be arsed with all of the above; I have not got the energy; I don’t think I ever did; though, I did tell Howard Kendall once if he ever sold Neville Southall I’d hunt him down like a dog.

I clearly lack ‘ambition’ and according to a fair proportion of contributors to this website ‘it’s people like me who are to blame’; the people who have had ‘the wool pulled over our eyes’; the people who ‘lap up everything that Moyes/Kenwright says’; the people who have been ‘taken in’ by ‘Kenwright’s lies’ ... except – they’re largely wrong.

There is no divide between those who are ‘apologists’ and those who are not. It is an artificial construct created and sustained by people thrashing around in their Everton supporting agony, looking for someone to blame and a way of making things right again. Blaming other supporters is a cop-out and an easy way to make yourself feel you’re making a difference. There is more that unites my old sparring partner Tony Marsh and me than divides us – it took Kirkby to make me realise that. We both want the same thing; a successful Everton team

As a supporter you have little or no power – the only power you have is economic; send back your Sky Sports package; boycott Cup games; write despairing letters to the chairman/manager/local news/ToffeeWeb by all means if enough of us do it – they’ll have to take notice... won’t they?

But one thought for you to mull over. If your righteous and understandable discontent does somehow manage to tear down the Moyes/Kenwright era... and perhaps this might be a good thing... what do you think is going to come in its place?

Perhaps those who feel we’ve been ‘punching above our weight’ will be proved right and we’ll find out how far down the toilet in terms of finances and players we really are and level out somewhere in the middle of the Championship... if we are lucky – perhaps a rich Arab on a white horse will gallop to our rescue; give us £50 Billion to enable to compete on a level playing field with the rich kids – because that is the only way I can see us ever winning anything ever again.

I want to see good football at Goodison Park again – the best I’ve seen for a few years was played there on Saturday; but not by us — by Arsenal... Now there’s a thought — oh to be an Arsenal Supporter and watch that every week instead of the shite we have to put up with...

Taxi for the Emirates Stadium!

Reader Comments

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Stephen Kenny
1   Posted 18/08/2009 at 21:34:47

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I dont really think you mean that last bit Kevin?
Steve Jones
2   Posted 18/08/2009 at 22:05:13

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Assume you’re refering to the game in 1982 at Goodison when Rush scored 4 against an Everton team that a few years later became the best in my lifetime.
Alan Clarke
3   Posted 18/08/2009 at 22:15:13

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Exactly Kevin. What the fuck can any of us do about the shambles that is Everton FC? What the fuck can I do to stop us moving to Kirkby? I would honestly take the day off work tomorrow if I thought a proper demonstration against Kenwright could take place and that’s considering I’ve shit loads to catch up on from today because I’ve been on Everton websites all day.

My wife keeps telling me to not be so emotionally involved with a club that obviously don’t give a shit about me. Perhaps she’s right?
Kevin Sparke
4   Posted 18/08/2009 at 23:00:16

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You’re right Steve Jones — it was 1982-83 season.

I’m almost sure that the core of the Cup-Winning side of 1984 never played. In fact off the top of my head I can only think of Sharp, Ratcliffe and Southall... perhaps Sheedy?

I do remember that big lump Glen Keeley getting his marching orders after 30 mins.

If anyone does have the team for that day I’d be grateful... I had the programme but lost it — deliberately I think.
Ray Robinson
5   Posted 18/08/2009 at 23:13:28

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Kevin

http://www.evertonfc.com/stats/?mode=fixture_details&fixture_id=3636
Kevin Sparke
6   Posted 18/08/2009 at 23:24:24

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Cheers Ray - "Billy Wright... and Glen Keeley"...
Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 18/08/2009 at 23:46:15

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Everton 0 - 5 Liverpool
at Goodison Park
Saturday 6 November 1982
1982-83 - Football League Division 1
52,741
H Kendall (Managers) B Paisley
(Scorers) I Rush 11’, 51’, 71’, 85’, M Lawrenson 55’
N Southall (Players) B Grobbelaar
B Borrows P Neal
J Bailey A Kennedy
G Keeley P Thompson
B Wright C Johnston
S McMahon A Hansen
A Heath K Dalglish (D Hodgson, 82’)
(K Richardson) D Johnson S Lee
G Sharp I Rush
A King M Lawrenson
K Sheedy G Souness
Mike Jones
8   Posted 18/08/2009 at 23:44:14

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November 6 1982: Southall, Borrows, Bailey, Keeley, Wright, McMahon, Heath, Johnson, Sharp, King, Sheedy, sub: Richardson.

Dull grey morning/early afternoon. 1-0 half-time i think. Dark black night.
Dave Wilson
9   Posted 19/08/2009 at 06:06:59

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We accepted the 5-0 thrashing at the hands of the shite because there where mitigating circumstances; we were without our usual defensive pair and Kendall was forced to go with an overweight Billy Wright and a panic last-minute loan signing — Keeley. When the Blackburn man got his Marching orders, Dalgliesh and Rush had a field day.

Shortly after that, Evertonians started to vote with their feet and we were soon playing to crowds under 20,000.

"THIRTY THOUSAND STAY-AWAY FANS CAN'T BE WRONG" screamed the leaflets and Kendall knew it was time to deliver... or do one; fortunately his luck changed and he was able to turn it around and give us the most glorious period in our history.

Fuck me, us scousers were a militant bunch in those days; the protests where full blown, but you have to ask, what would have happened if the crowd got its way and Kendall walked?

Some would argue the success came about because of the pressure, because we wouldn’t accept shite... who knows the real truth?

But there can be no doubt that demands of the fans can pressurise a board into making decisions.

I was at Villa Park a few seasons back, when suddenly the whole of Villa Park rose in protest against Doug Ellis, I’ve never seen anything like it... the Villa players were visibly shaken and seemed paralysed for 4-5 minutes - Typical Everton, we still couldn’t score, Lol.

Anyway, Deadly Doug had been at Villa for 400 years, it may have taken him another season or so to sell, but he knew right there and then, that his position as Villa Chairman had just become untenable.

It worked out nicely for Villa... or did it? Doug was always shrewed, tight-fisted even, but Villa knew glory under his reign.

You make a very good point about the Geordies, Kevin and look at the Tottenham fans, they have chosen and sacked a dozen managers in my lifetime.

Everton fans today are far more apathetic than they were in the eighties, but united (that’ll be the day) they can still ultimately make the decisions.

One point I would take issue with Kevin is this: I don’t think anyone would call any Evertonian who doesn’t take to the streets in protest about the way our club is run an "apologist". I think that description is reserved for people who are happy, even grateful for it... and unfortunately there is a divide, the size of which will become all too apparent if DK gets the nod.

A cracking article though.

Neil Pearse
10   Posted 19/08/2009 at 08:20:11

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I truly await the onslaught on this one, but I am a bit puzzled by this characterisation of the debate around ’ambition’ and ’indifference’.

There seems to me to be a rather big difference between ’doing nothing’ (drifting lack of ambition...) and ’doing something I don’t like’.

To read most posts on Toffeeweb, you would get the impression that the Board of the club are simply sitting there, sucking their thumbs, doing nothing, with no apparent plan as to how to get out of our mess.

But what in fact do we find? They are on the brink of approval for a brand new ground, having teamed up with the UK’s most powerful commercial company and a local sympathetic council. What’s more the new ground looks like (you can never be sure on these things) costing less than £100M to construct - an unprecedented bargain in this day and age, And surely one that is likely to attract a new owner if anything can (and of course if there is any willingness to sell).

Now, I TOTALLY understand that most people on here loathe the idea of Kirkby. I’m not wild about it myself. But the idea that the current owners are sitting around ’doing nothing’ is rather wide of the mark. They are actually in the process of doing something rather big, indeed in a real sense something rather ambitious. It just happens to be something that some people don’t like.

(I know the comeback will be: but we want something ’bigger and more exciting’ than Kirkby! Me too. I’d like a groundshare on Stanley Park for example. But reality then kicks in. Unfortunately this is what we can afford. See Dan Brierley’s excellent post on the Brian Baker thread.)
Peter Benson
11   Posted 19/08/2009 at 08:40:23

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You can argue with Everton to give us a better stadium at Kirkby.

I’m not aware if we have the power anymore to prevent it from happening.
Kevin Sparke
12   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:26:49

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My problem with Kirkby, Neal, is that everything about it, from the design to the location, screams ’Championship’ team.

It seems that BK has given up on us ever competing realistically with the big boys and is repositioning the club for a future of mediocrity.

Wenger's recent musings on a European Superleague adds weight to this vision. Man City are already talking about increasing capacity to 60,000 - 70,000. Man U and Arsenal also looking at expanding.

Every year they get further away from us... and what is our Chairman’s response?

Downsizing!
Rupert Sullivan
13   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:25:57

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Neil - I’m not sure that the opinions voiced are suggesting that the board are doing nothing - certainly from my perspective I simply believe that they are doing the wrong things. The stadium debate is a good example: I can appreciate that the club are low on ready funds, but LFC have had permission to build for 3 years and are yet to do anything, my impression is that the LCC are become more and more in favour of a groundshare, the EFC supporters too are more vociferously supporting a groundshare: the reaction from the club - heads in sand, exclusivity deal.

Now do you honestlty think that there are not companies out there that would pay huge sums of money to be connected with a World Class stadium for Liverpool and Everton FC? It was suggested yesterday on another thread that EFC don’t even make money from advertising around the pitch...

I just think that unfortunately the club is limited by the lack of imagination of the board - football is a big seller in the modern world and although Everton is far from the biggest brand, it could do an awful lot more to improve that brand - like taking advantage of Tim Cahill and playing pre-season in Oz.

Small minds, small things - as far as I can see that is EFC’s problem - and as such is compounded by the small gates and small season ticket prices.
Peter Roberts
14   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:36:06

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Dave,

I sadly was not born in the club’s success period as I was born 2 weeks after Rotterdam. However, I refuse to accept the first line where you say the fans accepted a 0-5 loss because of mitigating circumstances. I simply cannot believe that Everton fans would accept such a crushing defeat by our nearest and dearest. If that had happened in today’s game, even without Yakubu Arteta and Jagielka there’d be a riot.
Dave Wilson
15   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:29:28

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Neil

In the time Kenwright has been at GP, just about every club in the Prem have either increased capacity and improved their stadiums or moved to a ground their fans are proud of or have plans to do so.

Sitting on his hands and doing nothing at all is precisely what Kenwright has done — except when he took time out to fuck the Kings Dock up — that's the only reason he nearly snatched Tesco Terry’s hand off when he handed him is apparent get-out-of-jail card.

Unfortunately, £100 million isn't a good deal for Kirkby, in fact it's about £100 million too much.

"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is" said the advert, warning the gullible... pity 15,000 Evertonians were out when that advert came on.

Another thing, this shared ownership lark? How come the yes-men suddenly started introducing it as their "preferred option", long after the vote, show me anything at all where you guys were arguing for it at the time. You won't be able to, because you only started advocating it long after you realised the damage the Yes vote has done.
Dave Wilson
16   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:47:56

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Peter Roberts, It was one of the worst days in the history of Everton. But trust me, there was no riot. Being comprehensively beaten by Liverpool unfortunately happened a lot more than it should have done in those days,
Neil Pearse
17   Posted 19/08/2009 at 09:52:38

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Dave and Rupert on the groundshare - well, it’s always been my first option because it’s so bloody obviously the best thing to do (for reasons Rupert you state). My assumption was always that, whatever we thought, the Reds would always be against it because they had quite enough money to do their own thing. Now this might have changed somewhat, although I still think it would be a very hard pill for them to swallow.

On Kirkby, Dave of course there is a different way of telling the story. We lost King’s Dock, and we found we could find and afford nothing else right in the city. Where OBVIOUSLY we would most like to be. We had to do something, and, yes indeed, we then jumped at the Kirkby opportunity (that’s what successful businesses do - take advantage of opportunities that come along).

As opposed to waiting and hoping for a rich new owner to come along and rescue us, I still think that waiting and hoping is too risky for my tastes.
Kirk McArdle
18   Posted 19/08/2009 at 10:11:02

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I certainly do not want to move to Kirkby. We as a club must stay within the City to keep a loyal fanbase. If we were to move, over subsequent generations, our following would wain.

I have for a long time championed a ground-share for many reasons. The location of both current grounds are so close together, it's like we are on top of each other anyway. Both teams cannot play home games at the same time. As fans we live next door in real life down the same streets as each other.

The only problem I have with a ground-share is this. If we do not match LFC pound for pound in the construction in said ground, we as a club would get a pro rata profit where they would get more. As LFC put more money into the development, would they be able to ask for more red seats than blue?

The only way I can see this working is if EFC LFC LCC all sit down and draw plans up for 3 equal parts in building costs. I firmly believe that LCC would now like us to stay within the city. If the government call-in goes against Kirkby, I can only see this as the only financially viable way forward for all parties.

Dave Wilson
19   Posted 19/08/2009 at 10:51:48

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"That's what successful businesses do, take advantage of opportunity that comes along."

I’m assuming you are referring to Tesco when you say successful business... I’m also assuming you are referring to Everton when you speak about an opportunity to be taken advantage of...

Oh and by the way, I don't buy the "I’ve always been in favour of sharing" claim.

Show me where any of you, just one single Yes man, spoke about sharing at the time of the vote. Maybe then I’ll stop suspecting you jumped on the bandwaggon simply because you know how dIsasterous DK will be.
Phil Bellis
20   Posted 19/08/2009 at 11:06:50

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Spot on, Dave, I don’t recall the pre-ballot campaign on here for a shared ground, either.

As for taking the first ’deal’ offered, that’s bollocks if it’s not the right one. Kirkby to me is a short-term elastoplast for 25 years of neglect by successive Boards, most notably those of which Kenwright was a member.

Those who voted Yes were lied to and, even now, won’t admit to falling for those lies. However well-meaning Neil (I presume a Yes voter) and others may have been, they still elected for the only option at the time, regardless of whether it was the right one — just as well we didn’t all do that with jobs, women, houses etc...

Geoff Edwards
21   Posted 19/08/2009 at 11:34:01

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Dave, Phil,

It’s a bit unfair to have a go at the Yes voters. At the time, the ONLY choices available were to stay at Goodison (which everyone agrees will not allow us to compete financially) or move to Kirkby. You can’t blame the Yes voters for falling for lies — if you’ve ever voted in a general election then you’ve done the same.

The groundshare wasn’t viable at the time, because it looked like RS had the finances to do their own.
Neil Pearse
22   Posted 19/08/2009 at 11:50:23

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Dave, we will disagree as ever on some of your points!

On the groundshare, I had a number of memorable conversations with my dad in the years before the Kirkby vote. He was a big proponent of a groundshare and persuaded me.

Like Geoff says, it wasn’t a big topic at the time of the Kirkby vote because it didn’t look like there was the slightest possibility that the RS would be interested.

And Dave, you are again simply assuming that everyone in their hearts knows that going to Kirkby will be a disaster for the club (so must now either be lying or coming up with a belated support for a groundshare to cover their embarrassment...).

I remain unapologetic. Kirkby is risky of course, but so is staying where we are. I just don’t think it is likely to be the disaster for the club that you and others think. I could be wrong, but then so could you.

I think a groundshare is a reasonably sure-fired winner if people could just knock their heads together. More’s the pity that they can’t.
Alan Clarke
23   Posted 19/08/2009 at 11:58:36

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Neil, you’re so misguided on the groundshare issue, it’s untrue. The only people who are interested in it are Liverpool Council. I voted NO and hate the idea of Kirkby but if you gave me the option of Kirkby or a groundshare I would gladly take Kirkby.
Neil Pearse
24   Posted 19/08/2009 at 12:02:51

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I don’t think either of us are misguided Alan - I assume that you really don’t like the idea of sharing with the RS (almost certainly on somewhat unequal terms)? As it happens, I prefer that to playing in a less than world class stadium in Kirkby.

The real question I suppose is whether you believe there is a genuinely available ’third option’. There could easily be if we were bought by a Man City style billionaire - they can stump up £250M+ to build us a nice new home in the city somewhere. I just don’t believe we can count on this, so we have to do something instead.

Sitting on our hands at GP is a much riskier proposition than most people on here seem to grasp. Graham has added to Dan’s post on the Brian Baker thread if you want to understand why.
Phil Bellis
25   Posted 19/08/2009 at 12:18:34

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Geoff, We don’t all agree staying at Goodison won’t allow us to compete; there have been posters on here who have advocated set-by-step refurbishment, an option the Board won’t consider.

The Yes vote was not a massive majority as thousands of Blues saw through the bullshit and the Batman lights, considered Kenwright’s prior form, and went with their gut feeling that this was the wrong move, at the wrong time to the wrong place. Everything that’s come out since has made those misgivings justified.

Would people vote Yes now if the truth were put to them? A mid-range stadium, no purpose-built transport facilities, attendance capped, costing, what? £80 - 130 million? No extra income as no non-football activities, possible extra £6 million per annum if 50,000 attend every fortnight...

To be shafted by devious ’businessmen’ is one thing — by your fellow fans, quite another!

Alan Clarke
26   Posted 19/08/2009 at 12:16:30

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The disinfecting my seat argument isn’t a sound business argument and I doubt would be an acceptable excuse.

One can only speculate about funding issues but from all the posts where this has been debated, no one has ever managed to answer my question where do Everton find the money from for a shared stadium? If the figures are to be believed, Kirkby will cost Everton somewhere in the region of £80 to £100 million. The reason behind this is because it’s a shit stadium and Tescos are involved.

The RS stadium has been costed around the £400 million mark. Now considering Everton are already in financial trouble where does a magical extra £100 million come from? If Everton could magic that sort of figure up then Moyes would be a happy man and we’d have a lot bigger squad. If you have a real good think about it, if Everton could find £200 million for a stadium, why not just do up Goodison? Why bother wasting it on a groundshare?

Some people have suggested the council will acquire extra funding but that is just bollocks. Where the hell does a council find an extra £100 million from? Council tax? The residents of Liverpool would love that? Local businesses? We’re in the middle of a bloody recession and there’s just been a massive regeneration project of the city centre so I doubt anymore funding would come the way of the football teams.

Add to that we’d half the RS’ debt for the project. They’d want a 60,000 seater which we would not fill. This would act as a constant reminder that we have smaller attendances. Trust me, it would be an absolute disaster. The arguments against a groundshare are far more compelling than the arguments for it.
Ciarán McGlone
27   Posted 19/08/2009 at 12:55:35

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Decent article, Kev, But there’s definitely a difference between those who continue to make excuses and ignore the problems — and those who accept there are actual serious problems at this club.
Rupert Sullivan
28   Posted 19/08/2009 at 13:06:20

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Alan - I don’t know how you can maintain that there are more arguments against than for a groundshare...

The LFC Stadium has been costed at £400m — but do you honestly think that would be the model used? The EFC has been costed at far less — surely a middle ground could be found

The LCC could donate the land — this would also reduce the costs for building a stadium.

EFC wouldn’t necessarily need to find an extra £100m, nor would anybody.

They may well want a 60k-seater stadium, and EFC may not fill it — but that is hardly a reason not to go ahead an build one is it?
Alan Clarke
29   Posted 19/08/2009 at 13:16:40

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Why wouldn’t that be the model used? Do you think the RS would settle for a cow shed like Kirkby? Perhaps they could build their ’famous Kop’ at one end and we could build the cow shed stand at the other!

Do you know how much it costs to build a stadium? Rupert, I actually think not filling a 60k stadium is the best reason for not groundsharing. We all rate Everton as a big club but this would be a constant reminder to everyone that we are in fact smaller than them. How the hell would we be able to attract investment then? Any identity would be lost.

Rupert all you’ve done is dismiss my argument, you’ve still not been able to come up with any real answers as to why a groundshare would be a good thing other than you just think it would.
Rupert Sullivan
30   Posted 19/08/2009 at 13:32:37

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Alan, I was actually only trying to dismiss your argument... but since you ask... just off the top of my head... I believe that a shared ground would profit both clubs from the following:

- Shared transport links and infarstructure
- Shared support costs (effectively halving annual running fees - with perhaps the pitch support costs being slightly raised)
Increased publicity for the single location - increasing profile of both clubs, and capitalising on the great and long history of both
- Possibility of competing for national events which a ’cow shed’ likel Kirkby may not allow
- Sale of both sets of land allowing for money to be put into the build - not just Goodison for Everton and Anfield for Liverpool
- Increased chance of LCC support behind a single venue
- Economies of scale for local contracts - resources, infrastructure, catering costs
- Removal of comptetition for other events, thus an increase on events being staged at the new ground
- Reduction (possible) in antipathy between LFC and EFC supporters
- Only one set of groundstaff required

But you’re right, I do think it would be a good idea... don’t you?
Neil Pearse
31   Posted 19/08/2009 at 16:28:16

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Let me mention the unmentionable on the groundshare: we don’t have to be equal financial partners. And anyway this thing could attract a lot of grants. And we might also be surprised about how often we managed to get 45,000+ into it. Etc etc (no need to repeat Rupert’s excellent points).

I only wish this wasn’t so irrelevant because both clubs lack the will to do it.
Ray Said
32   Posted 19/08/2009 at 17:33:22

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No one pays money up front for a major building project like a stadium — the money is always borrowed and payback is based on increase in turnover otherwise known as investing to grow the business.

Both clubs start a joint company "stadium holdings Limited", they both own 50% of shares and borrow the money to build the ground. Repayments come from the turnover of the joint company and any residual money is split according to how the cost was generated, ie EFC get their share of their matchday activities and LFC get theirs. Any joint activities — concerts, conferences etc, are shared.

David Hallwood
33   Posted 19/08/2009 at 18:00:33

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As everyone’s reminiscing about the 5-0 thrashing by the RS (just shows what a load of masochist s Evertonians are) I’d managed to get 12 ticket stubs off away supporters (Spurs I think) that acted as a priority voucher for derby tickets. At the time all my mates were reds, so I got them the best seats in the house (well the main stand) and they spent the whole game taking the piss out of us and giving us unmerciful stick. How I laughed.

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