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Kirkby Inquiry — questions that should be asked

By Peter Cornwell :  06/12/2008 :  Comments (0) :
I have read summaries of the evidence heard at the inquiry last week and I am astonished that the most pertinent issues with regard to EFC's move to Kirkby have not been raised. These are the questions that should be put to Elstone:
  1. Please confirm that the ballot of Everton fans in 2007 simply gave the club authority to "explore the possibility" of moving to Kirkby.
  2. Do you accept that the ballot did not actually give you authority from the fans to actually move to Kirkby?
  3. Do you intend to hold a further ballot to ask the clubs fans for such authority?
  4. If not, why not?
  5. Do you accept that if the club moves from the city of Liverpool it will change the club irrevocably for ever and that such a move should not be taken without such an authority from the fans?
  6. Do you accept that many fans perceive that, in the previous ballot, the Club's representation of the proposed stadium and in particular the transport facilities were misleading?
  7. Do you believe that the stadium will have (as was claimed at the time of the ballot) possibly the best transport facilities of any stadium in the UK?
  8. Have you made any attempt to assess how many supporters will walk to the Kirkby stadium if it is built?
  9. If it is very few, then do you accept that most of the supporters attending at the new stadium will travel by car, bus, or train?
  10. Of those persons travelling by transport, do you accept that most will travel by car?
  11. Is it correct that there are very limited parking facilities close to the stadium?
  12. Is it correct that supporters will be prevented from parking in the public car parks constructed for the shopping facilities.
  13. Is it correct therefore that most persons travelling by car will have to park some considerable distance away from the stadium?
  14. Do you accept that fans travelling by car will spend some considerable time in traffic queues before they can park because there are so few routes into Kirkby?
  15. And that they will then spend some considerable time walking to the stadium?
  16. And that they will be faced with similar problems after the game?
  17. Do you believe that there is a risk that a proportion of fans will find this a disincentive to attending matches at the stadium?
  18. EFC's current average attendance is approximately 35,000. Many lifelong supporters have expressed their intention not to attend matches at Kirkby because the club is moving out of the city of Liverpool. Do you accept that there is a risk that in moving to Kirkby the club will lose a proportion of its core supporters who reside in city of Liverpool?
  19. Do you accept, therefore, that there is a risk that a substantial proportion of those 35,000 supporters will not attend matches at Kirkby?
  20. Have you made any attempt to assess the number of such fans?
  21. Do you accept that there is a risk that the attendance experience of those travelling by car is a disincentive to those fans attending in the future?
  22. If you accept that these risks exist, then are you concerned that the future attendances at the stadium will fall below an average of 35000?
  23. Have you made any attempt to try to assess the likely future average attendance at the stadium?
  24. Do you accept that it is highly unlikely it will equal the current 35,000?
  25. Would you accept it could fall to as low as 30,000?
  26. Would you accept there is a risk it could fall to 25,000?
  27. Is it correct the capacity of the stadium will be 50000?
  28. Would you be concerned that 25,000 people in a 50,000 stadium would create an empty atmosphere?
  29. Do you accept that that could affect the team's performance?
  30. If this occurred, do you believe there is a risk that, of those 25,000 fans, many would find it such an unpleasant and uninspiring experience that they may not attend future games?
  31. Do you accept therefore that there is a subsequent risk that the attendance could then fall below 25,000?
  32. If that happened do you accept that attendaces could fall to 20, 000... 15,000... even 10,000?
  33. What will be the minimum attendance EFC requires to continue financially, bearing in mind you have given evidence that the current debt has risen recently to in excess of £35M and the club's minimum expenditure on the stadium will be £78M, making a total of at least £113M and that that level of debt will require substantial annual repayments?
  34. Because of falling gates and the financial pressure that that creates, is it likely that, to raise funds to meet its debts, the club would most likely sell its most saleable assets?
  35. Are its most saleable assets the players?
  36. If a club sells its best players, do you accept that that is likely to adversely affect the team's performance?
  37. Excepting the top 4 clubs, who are unlikely to ever be at risk of relegation, do you accept that there is a 1 in16 chance of EFC being relegated?
  38. If EFC is relegated have you carried out a risk assessment as to whether EFC will be able to continue trading?
  39. If EFC cannot meet the increased debt repayments, is it likely EFC will enter administration?
  40. If it enters administration and has no prospect of meeting its debt repayments, is it then likely that the club will cease trading?
  41. If that happens, what will happen to the stadium that has been built?
  42. Is there a risk that it will remain unused and empty?
  43. Do you accept that you, as CEO, owe a duty to the club, its shareholders and its supporters?
  44. Do you believe you are fulfilling that duty if you engage in a course of action which exposes the club to a risk of catastrophic failure and ultimately closure?
  45. Do you believe you have done enough to assess that risk?
  46. Do you believe you have the right to put at risk the future existence of one of the greatest football institutions of this country, which has been in existence for 130 years and which is such an important part of so many people's lives?
I'm sure others cleverer than me could think of more searching questions, backed up by statistics, but I just don't think the inspector listening to this enquiry has had it brought to her attention the risk that this move presents to EFC. If it all goes badly and we are relegated with huge debts then, having alienated its core supporters, the club may not survive. If that happens, the inspector may be responsible for sanctioning the construction of a stadium that will subsequently lie empty and be an embarrassment to her and the people of Kirkby.

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