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Ken-Neutral and the Broken Millennium Dreams

By Andy Riley :  09/11/2010 :  Comments (44) :
Where are you on the Bill Kenwright debate? Is he Ken-Wrong or Ken-Right or are you like me in thinking he?s probably... Ken-Neutral. He is the Billy Kenny of club owners ? one who never fulfilled his potential?

Remember how hopeful we all where when this started. When did it start? Well, I know BK had long had involvement in the boardroom prior to actually getting control of the train set but do you remember 27 December 1999? Where you one of the 40,017 inside Goodison Park to see the 5-0 demolition of Sunderland that extra Boxing Day holiday just before the new millennium opened?

What hope there was that day amongst Evertonians when the torch was passed to Bill... What great goodwill and unity existed then for this undoubted Evertonian who had finally exterminated the secret agent and was ready to lead us out of the darkness and into the light of a new dawn of greatness!

Walter Smith was in charge. Remember some of the players that day? Don Hutchison scored twice. Franny Jeffers, who was being talked of in terms of an expected starring role at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups, got a goal. Super Kevin Campbell, then at the peak of his time at Goodison, got another and the other scorer was Mark Pembridge. Nicky Barmby was at that time majestic for us before he took thirty pieces of silver to defect to the dark side. Old Richard Gough and young Richard Dunne were in defence along with the two Davids: Weir and Unsworth ? Walter?s habit of insisting on including all the fit centre halves at the club in every team he picked!

What hope there was that day ? a True Blue in charge and a feeling that we were only a top class player or two away from having a really good side ? a bit like now. Just over two years later, that dream had died. Walter Smith, sacked after an abject cup defeat at Middlesborough, and relegation staring us in the face.

David Moyes arrived and we were safe long before the final day of that season... but where have we really been heading since? On the plus side, there have been no last-day escapes on Bill?s watch... but no trophy either. Is Bill Kenwright just unlucky? Think NTL investment, Kings Dock, Fortress Sports Fund, appointing and then losing probably the best football administrator of his generation, Trevor Birch, inside six weeks ? why? Is he just lucky ? think of what could have occurred if a valuable gem named Rooney had not been unearthed!

Basically it?s been mid-table mediocrity on Bill?s watch apart from a couple of late surges into Uefa Cup/Europa League qualification. The one real highlight being the unexpected Champions League qualification in 2005 ? which was then ruined by the events of Istanbul and the total failure to look this gift horse in the mouth, as Spurs have done this summer, and invest to move to the next level.

The headline of one match report for that Sunderland game read that Everton's five-star performance heralded a new era but the hopes and dreams I had that December day just before the birth of the new millennium are now well and truly gone.

Overall, I?m still Ken-Neutral. OK he?s a blue but things could be a lot better ? or possibly a little worse?

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
1   Posted 09/11/2010 at 19:17:38

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Okay: new rules for BK debates:

Discuss the issues (such as they are), and only the issues.

Any abuse, hatred, offensiveness, name-calling or pretty much anything else will be deleted.

Tread carefully.
David O'Keefe
2   Posted 09/11/2010 at 19:34:53

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Andy, you haven't added anything of note other than a display of splinters in your backside.

Heed the fate of those that follow no banner in times of moral strife, Andy.

Nick Entwistle
3   Posted 09/11/2010 at 19:41:32

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If we can't abuse Kenwright then you may as well close the thread down. He appointed Moyes, and that's the be all and end all on the positive.

Some may say he hasn't done a Leeds or a Portsmouth but he's never had the cash flow to do it, and you don't judge yourself by others' failures.
David O'Keefe
4   Posted 09/11/2010 at 19:57:41

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Nick, he doesn't want the thread to descend into a slanging match, we can let off steam about Bill within reason.
Tony McNulty
5   Posted 09/11/2010 at 20:01:19

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Michael,

I can (sort of) understand why you have set down your ground rules. But I find it a little difficult to imagine how any debate on this topic is possible without some of the behaviours you have banned. This is especially so, since the ?issues? and ?facts? here are in dispute, and frequently open to differing interpretations. And this is a subject about which people care.

As part of an assignment carried out in Ireland I once interviewed a union official. Describing his contacts with the management, he said to me: ?If there wasn?t a row to be had, it wouldn?t be much of a day.? I don?t know about other people, but I would much prefer us to have an entertaining row on this subject, rather than trying to recreate the atmosphere within a gentlemen?s club.
Robert Daniels
6   Posted 09/11/2010 at 20:12:45

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Ok, Mr Kenwright has single-handedly reduced Evertonians' expectations, he has turned us into a small club, by forever saying we can't compete with the big boys, or words to that effect.

A lot of fans are just grateful for not fighting relegation every season (like we did for the hundred years before he became our leader).

The damage sustained by the Kings Dock fiasco and the splitting of the fans over that joke of a free stadium in Kirkby is disgraceful.

He won't name a price, he does himself no favours... £50 mill for Rooney, all the other untruths...

His years in tenure will be remembered as Everton's darkest hour. He sold us down the river.
Stephen Kenny
7   Posted 09/11/2010 at 20:39:57

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Once again we will list his proven failures and once again some will come and say he's not all bad etc. Some people can't see the wood for the trees.
Andy Riley
8   Posted 09/11/2010 at 20:45:09

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I suspect that, like many thinking Blues, I do sit on the fence because I don?t know if there is currently any realistic alternative to BK. We are told BK is looking for investment but I honestly think that is unlikely to be forthcoming unless those currently in charge are willing to give up control to a new investor. To my mind, those currently interested in purchasing football clubs fall into three groups as follows:?

1. Mega rich people with some unclear unknown motive for huge investments on which they can never hope to make a return. Examples are Chelsea and Manchester City. Good while it lasts but could be problems ahead when individuals pass on or are overthrown and their children or others have no interest. To a small extent, Everton have experience of this when Sir John Moores died.

2. Those who see a profit opportunity. I think most see this as a capital gain i.e. purchase relatively cheaply, invest modestly and then, having increased the capital value, make a good return by selling or diluting their holding. I think the Glazers and Hicks/Gillette are examples of this approach and I don?t really think Everton currently attract such people which may be a good thing. Again we may have had a prior experience of this with Peter Johnson but I think he realised the investment required to turn things round and make a return was too great and too risky which is why he wanted out.

3. Genuine mega rich fan. An example is Jack Walker at Blackburn but again there can be problems after their death etc. I don't see many of these currently around Goodison in any case.

4. Genuine fan or local individual who hasn?t got a great deal of money in Premier League terms but likes the fame or kudos that comes with the territory. Willing to sell if a decent offer comes in but otherwise sees themselves as the custodian of their club.

This last one is basically BK and probably 70% of other owners of Premier League clubs. Their most important aim every season is to protect the current value by avoiding relegation and they will, as a minimum, invest and act decisively in order to ensure that status. Is there any point in replacing BK with someone similar who may not be an Evertonian? Much as I would like to see an improvement in our fortunes and capacity in the transfer market this is in reality where I think we are and will remain for the foreseeable future.

David O'Keefe
9   Posted 09/11/2010 at 21:02:55

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Andy, Bill comes under Category 2.

Why is the fact he's a Blue used as an excuse? There is no discussion of his record in your article, Andy, but now we know why you let him off the hook. This Blue has nothing but contempt for his fellow Blues and I pity those that defend him, as Bill Kenwright is a worthless cause.

I am still waiting for a rebutal of Colin Fitzpatrick's article of a few weeks ago from his apologists, but I know they can't argue against facts, having none in their favour. I'm embarrassed for them, in truth; I can no longer hate the apologists ? if they can't see the man for who he is after Kirkby, there is no way that you can convince them otherwise.
Christine Foster
10   Posted 09/11/2010 at 21:47:36

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The love affair with BK and the fans ended with a line under the DK project. During, and since then, it's been like a bad relationship that's doing neither party any good. The trust has gone and it will never return.

The problem is both parties are trapped with each other until someone else comes along! Until then, it's just a bad feeling and putting up with the same old line that no longer works. It's like watching a divorce, the carve up of spoils, who gets the money, who gets the house, who gets shafted.

It's the best analogy I can find to describe our situation, but BK is still holding all the cards. He knows he should go but he wants his pound of flesh first.

Put it another way, if you were in a bad relationship, would you hang on in there until you could off-load the woman / man to someone else..?

Hang on ? don't answer that...

James I'Anson
11   Posted 09/11/2010 at 22:39:33

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The sad thing is that it is going to take something catastrophic for him to leave or be forced out.

I'm ready.

Michael Coffey
12   Posted 09/11/2010 at 22:45:36

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There's a Jewish, or maybe Chinese, or perhaps Eskimo proverb about true happiness lying in wanting what you have, rather than in having what you want.

This is why Bill is always smiling, and the rest of us are doomed to grind our teeth.
Eric Myles
13   Posted 10/11/2010 at 01:06:35

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Unlucky regarding NTL, KD and Fortress Fund????
More like downright lies and deceit, not bad luck.
No wonder Trevor Birch didn't want to hang around.
What annoys me most is he keeps opening his mouth only to put his foot in it, I'd be much happier if he'd just keep quiet and slink into the background.
Jay Harris
14   Posted 10/11/2010 at 01:03:00

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I am surprised that noone has ever tried to dig deeper on the Trevor Birch issue. Trevor was a very principled man who would not cover up carbuncles and there were some suggestions that he didnt like what he found.

I am afraid like many "Black Bill" mysteries we will never know the truth. There is so much deceipt gone on under Kenwright that I lost all respect and feeling for the man a long time ago.

Anyway, enough volumes have been filled with his misdemeanours, the big question is what does the future hold?

IMO we do not need or want some rich billionaire ? we just need a board (a team, not one man) consisting of men of vision and integrity. We keep failing to build on opportunities (KD, CL, a number of 5th places) because of the lack of any plan or support by this regime.

The sooner we have a fans revolt, the better. It was the only way PJ was got rid of and it may not be the Everton way but IMO it needs to happen sooner rather than later.
Alex Higgins
15   Posted 10/11/2010 at 01:37:20

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The biggest handicap to any investment in Everton is very simple: Liverpool FC.
I don't think any other owner of Everton, unless incredibly rich, would fare any better than Kenwright. Liverpool FC, like it or not (and let's stop denying it) are globally much bigger than us. Manchester City, in a similar situation to us, found that rich owner luckily who apparently stated that he chose Manchester City as a challenge to the fact that Manchester United, the biggest club in world, needed a challenge.

We are Everton, a great club, no denying it, but our success has come in patches not sustained. It will come again.

John Daley
16   Posted 10/11/2010 at 02:25:01

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Michael,

Any reasons for the new rules regarding Kenwright submissions?

My rote three word response of "He's a twat" has now been made utterly redundant!
Kirk McArdle
17   Posted 10/11/2010 at 02:40:50

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Does BK have Everton FC's best interests at heart? = YES

Has BK told the fans fibs in the past? = YES

Does BK have enough cash to successfully operate a top class European / Premier League football club? = NO

Is BK going anywhere out of the board room soon? = NO

I think this sums everything up about BK.

Bored with threads about if he is Jesus's right testicle or Lucifer's bastard son.
Tony J Williams
18   Posted 10/11/2010 at 09:23:03

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Can't he be Lucifer's bastard son's left testcle?
Phil Bellis
19   Posted 10/11/2010 at 10:45:03

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Kirk, sorry to read you're bored.

Easy answer... do as Bill did when he got bored with shareholders' questions.

David S Shaw
20   Posted 10/11/2010 at 11:06:14

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David Moyes has won many awards at Goodison due to over achieving on a small budget. Says it all.
Alan Clarke
21   Posted 10/11/2010 at 11:17:19

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Alex, you don't really make any sense. We can't find investment because of Liverpool FC yet Man City found investment when they share a city with Man U? It hardly proves your point.

Also how come Tottenham found investment? They share a neighbourhood with Arsenal and they're not too far from Chelsea.

As an argument, the fact that we're based in the same city as Liverpool FC doesn't hold any water.
Kevin Tully
22   Posted 10/11/2010 at 11:47:29

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Some people have suggested the asking price for Everton Football Club is around the £250 mill mark. If this figure is correct, we will never be sold. Who would purchase a business with £80 mill turnover, with £70 mill of debt and makes a loss almost every year?

To even have a hope of turning this around, you would need huge investment in playing staff, wages, and a new ground. You would also need Champions League football to cover your costs.

The days of individuals or consortiums throwing hundreds of millions at loss-making clubs like Everton are gone. The Yanks at Anfield are looking to cut wages and contracts already, and bring homegrown players through. We have a head start on them in my eyes. Let's forget about buying success, that ship has sailed.

Kenwright needs to step down along with the old school board, when we find someone capable of taking the club forward through a long-term vision. This doesn't mean he or the board should sell to just anyone, he has a duty of care to put the club in the right hands. It won't be easy. Ask Moores and Parry.
Larry Boner
23   Posted 10/11/2010 at 11:52:51

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Man City do not share a city with Man Utd. The spectre that has loomed over us for the last 50-odd years will never go away, LFC will always be there, but there is no way that potential buyers or investors would be put off by them.

Do you think the shite that is gushing out of the mouths of the new owners "Oh, the atmosphere, the songs, blah, blah" is really what they are interested in? It's the potential for massive profits over the next 10 years that caused them to lay out over £200m, with another £100m earmarked for ground improvements.

Football is the only true world sport, played everywhere and more popular than ever, with the EPL the most popular of all due to massive hype from Sky, ESPN etc. Everton FC are an established PL team, with a great history, sited in possibly the world's most famous city, what buyer or investor would not want to take on what is a tiny debt, compared to the likes of Man Utd's and Liverpool's?

I feel that there is something rotten in the borough of Walton that is turning people off what would be a dream acquisition; I don't know why we can't get this show on the road ? we have a good fan base, a good side, good manager with the potential to go to the next level, but no assistance in sight from the current chairman or board.

At the moment, I would settle for the board presenting a plan for a phased re-development of Goodison over the next 5 years, but instead we have been told there will be nothing done to the ground; selling off the Park End to retail is not going to do it for us.

Let's wait for January to see if Mr Moyes is provided with funds to compete in what is currently the most open and level PL since its inception.

Ernie Baywood
24   Posted 10/11/2010 at 12:05:32

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For all the bile directed at Kenwright I've never really seen a decent explanation of what he's actually done wrong at the club, apart from a few anecdotes about the state of the club shop.

OK, so people want a new stadium, they want a bigger squad full of better players on higher wages arriving for princely sums; but is it really his fault that we don't have these things? What is the expectation of an Everton chairman because if the expectation is that they plough tens or hundreds of millions of their own money into the club then he's a failure and so, in all probability, will be the next owner.

There are lots of things in life that I want but, just because I don't have them, doesn't mean I've failed.

I'm another Ken-neutral. I'd love to see more progress on our revenue but I am hoping that he has the best interests of the club at heart and will not sell us down the river like Moores and Parry did to the shite. There's not a great deal else that is in his control.
Alex Doyle
25   Posted 10/11/2010 at 12:09:24

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Good post, Kevin. I think Kenwright would happily step down if there was any genuine and welcome interest. I don't buy that he's not interested in selling. Sticking to the facts, no-one has any evidence of what the club is supposedly being touted for and everything is negotiable. You're right to question the attractiveness of investment though. If you are not a die hard fan, why would you throw your hard earned millions at a club with no guarantee of success in a very competitive league?

I never hear fan ownership being debated on here ? surely a fitting solution for Everton. It might offer financial constraints, but we wouldn't have to sell our soul. It would be interesting to work out the practicalities of what it would cost.
Stephen Kenny
26   Posted 10/11/2010 at 12:45:23

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Ernie,

if that posts not a wind up I'll get in the Gladwys tonight with a Bolton kit on!!!
Phil Bellis
27   Posted 10/11/2010 at 13:12:22

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You little tinker, Ernie... for a minute, there, you had me going
Jay Harris
28   Posted 10/11/2010 at 13:30:08

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Ernie,

"For all the bile directed at Kenwright I've never really seen a decent explanation of what he's actually done wrong at the club"

How long have you got?
David Price
29   Posted 10/11/2010 at 13:32:13

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Any builders out there who know how much we will make from the Bellefield "project"?
74 homes at an income of approx £30m. 50% return gives us £15m.
I guess it's these items where Bill should be upfront with the detail, or is this deemed not our place and therefore In Bill we Trust.
David Price
30   Posted 10/11/2010 at 13:45:27

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Larry #23, yeah can you imagine us with a Yank Owner with his wife proudly stating "I now know all the words to the ZEE-CARS song"!!!
Charles King
31   Posted 10/11/2010 at 13:38:16

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Kirk @ 17.

I think you're wrong on the first and most important point, ie Kenwright has Everton's interest at heart.

An Evertonian he may be... an opportunist certainly.

As I watched the Kirkby debacle unfold, only a fool couldn't see he was looking after his and his cronies' financial interests.

I've stopped going as a result.
Michael Kenrick
32   Posted 10/11/2010 at 14:49:45

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Ernie (#24): "I've never really seen a decent explanation of what he's actually done wrong at the club."

You might want to glance through this article when you have a few minutes, Ernie.
Chris Briddon
33   Posted 10/11/2010 at 15:08:34

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Charles (and a few others) ? you might remember that what you think are the club's best interests and what someone else thinks are the clubs best interests are not always the same.

Just because someone doesn't do what YOU would have done doesn't mean they don't have the club's best interests at heart in their decision making.

Having the club's best interests doesn't mean there is only one possible option every time!
David S Shaw
34   Posted 10/11/2010 at 15:19:53

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Most chairman have one job ? to ensure there are sufficient funds for the manager.

Unfortunately Kenwright has two jobs. The other is to sort the stadium, or at least start the foundations of a stadium for someone richer to finish off. He has achieved neither.

By the fact that no-one was sacked at Everton over Kirkby shows that Kenwright admits all responsibility. By the fact that Kirkby reached the stage it did shows that the staff are either not interested in speaking up, or were too stupid or stubborn to realise any errors. Either way, a chairman should see this as a weakness.

Whether he means well or not is guesswork; either way he's shit.
Charles King
35   Posted 10/11/2010 at 16:58:49

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Chris @ 33

Couldn't agree more.

So when you were told "there's no other option" regarding Kirkby, I'm assuming you agree it was bollocks.

Which begs the question.... why?
Oliver Molloy
36   Posted 10/11/2010 at 18:31:53

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When a bulldog sees a chihuahua while out out in the park for a walk, the stumpy tail starts wagging ? this only happens with a chihuahua.
Bill Slater
37   Posted 10/11/2010 at 18:54:41

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Can someone more informed correct me if I'm wrong. You know explain it simply because, like, I'm a bit thick.

There are currently 35,000 shares in EFC.

Current owners bought EFC for £30m / £45m? (a bargain)

Current Debts - £70m (some one said above)

Annual turnover is £80m (to run the club as a business)

Owners looking to sell for £250m.

If EFC was sold for £100m this would clear debts and give shareholders their money back.

Amount of further investment by shareholders since buying shares = nil

Potential profit between them = £150m

Businessmen first. Then Evertonians.

Or is it far more complicated than that, and I wouldn't be able to understand.
Oliver Molloy
38   Posted 10/11/2010 at 22:20:11

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Bill @ 41...

Sir Philip Green is the man who has set the price for Everton, and the only way we as Everton fans are going to get rid of this "friend" of BK's is to rebel and start behaving like the red shite did.

I have nothing against Kenwright, but i believe his hands are tied by Green. He's a completely ruthless billionanire who cares only for the £s he can make out of us.

Ernie Baywood
39   Posted 11/11/2010 at 02:17:58

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Michael, of course I've read that article. It's well put together and makes a good case for BK not being the best businessman or the most desirable character we could have. But it still doesn't show what he has done wrong as opposed to what he should have delivered to this club.

The article you link to calls for delivering investment, yet criticises borrowing against our assests and future incomes in order to get some 'investment'. For those who are hard of thinking, investment is also known as 'borrowing'. Someone gives you something, and expects to make a return on it. You always pay it back in one way or another. So Kenwright has delivered investment... investment that has gone into the team and produced a team that has steadily climbed the table... increasing revenues further. That's a plan isn't it?

The other thing that makes me laugh is the criticism of Kenwright in relation to Kirkby compared to the criticism of Kings Dock. No-one ever told us the facts about Kirkby? How many did you know about Kings Dock? The criticism was only ever about the location. Offer ToffeeWebbers a riverside location and they've got us signed up to a reverse mortgage that would have killed the club!

To my mind, fans are asking for investment without debt, and a new stadium without debt. Sorry, but that's going to take a sugar daddy or a magician, and I don't believe that either exist.

What we can judge Kenwright on is our commercial performance. Do we make enough money for an organisation of our standing and catchment area? It's tough to get to the facts here but I do see some progress. Park End building to host more corporates, Everton 2, increased online presence (the club site most used by its own fans in the country).

Could there be improvements? Undoubtedly, but I still believe that the pitch is the place to get it right first. Kenwright's history stands up fairly favourably there ? broken transfer records and some decent investment in the team at the expense of debt. Again, short of putting their own money in, what more could anyone do?
David Thomas
40   Posted 11/11/2010 at 16:14:07

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Bill,

All everyone is doing is guesswork with a bunch of figures. None of us have any idea how much the current major shareholders want for the club. Its a pointless exercise just guessing as they could want £50 million, £100 million, £200 million, £250 million, £300 million etc etc none of us know.
Colin Fitzpatrick
41   Posted 11/11/2010 at 18:54:35

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Funny enough Ernie [39] I once knew someone who read Orwell's Animal Farm and was convinced it was about animals living on a farm.

A non-exhaustive list of your comments "it still doesn't show what he has done wrong", "Kenwright has delivered investment", "the criticism was only ever about the location", "what we can judge Kenwright on is our commercial performance [It's tough to get to the facts] - I do see some progress" and, perhaps the absolute classic in relation to Kenwright ability to support the manager, "Kenwright's history stands up fairly favourably" initially led me to believe that by comparison the Animal Farm reader was an intellectual colossus!

I take my hat off to you, you had us all going there with your ironical sense of humour; I needed cheering up after sitting through that last night, well done!
Ernie Baywood
42   Posted 11/11/2010 at 22:00:52

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Criticism of Kenwright is deserved, Colin. The club hasn't made the strides in terms of revenue that we would have liked. He hasn't delivered a stadium. He hasn't found us a buyer that can take us forward. These are all part of his job.

What I'm saying is that the criticism levelled on this site is part of the 'Kenwright myth'.

The fact remains that players have been signed ? due to us borrowing. This is investment. There's no refuting that ? in fact, people call for investment while criticising him for borrowing. Now that's 'ironical'!

Kings Dock is now a great part of the myth. I would have loved that stadium. Of course all we know about it is that it was going be a big iconic stadium on the river, but people were prepared to ruin the club to get there. Offer people Kirkby and all of a sudden it's about the details. If it was about the details then Kings Dock would be considered in the same way.

Kenwright could deliver further investment I'm sure. But not on the right terms. Hell, I could probably borrow a million on his behalf if he wants to sign a better striker than Beckford... but I couldn't afford those repayments at the terms I would likely be offered.

Football fans are an unreasonable bunch. In any other business it would be a case of having to improve performance before investing in the business and expanding. In football we just expect that if someone can get hold of the cash on whatever terms, then we'll be the best. And of course, the people best placed to make decisions about the likelihood of success apparently sit in the stands.

Some people seriously deserve an owner to come in, borrow (sorry, invest) whatever he can, push it on the club, and leave the club to fold.
Ste Traverse
43   Posted 12/11/2010 at 05:55:09

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Ernie. The Kirkby criticism wasn't just about the location, it was the fact that excuse for a stadium wasn't fit for a club of Everton's stature on any level.

Unlike Kings Dock.
Bill Slater
44   Posted 12/11/2010 at 12:24:40

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David (40) we may not know how much they would sell for, but I can bet they make a profit.

We know that they have not invested a single penny in the Club since buying their shares.

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