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The Patriot

By Jody Nakin :  05/03/2011 :  Comments (13) :
The whole Everton ownership saga/debate over who should buy the club and who should not ? whether it's oil rich Arabs, Russians, or proud and ambitious American sports businessmen contributed to me writing this article.

The reason for my curiosity in this whole ownership debate was spurred on by my discovery that a few Everton legends live here in South Africa, where I am from and currently live, to name one: Pat Van den Hawe. There is another who owns an investment company, I just can?t remember now.I must be honest that, whilst growing up as 10-year-old, becoming an Everton fan after watching a game with my dad and his friends, who worship Liverpool, wasn?t easy.

Fortunately, one Big Neville Southhall made it a bit easy for me, I was a goalkeeper and my dad was confused: Why was I admiring the Welshman when Mr Bruce Grobelaar, who was from neighboring Zimbabwe, was in the Liverpool goal? On this, I think he was convinced that I would become a Liverpool fan, which made sense if one looked at it logically (a young South African goalkeeper, who had no alliance to any English football club at that point).

How wrong was my dad, there is something about the Toffees that you can?t explain, and it was Big Nev's performance that day that melted my heart like sticky toffee (no pun intended) and I have never once looked back or regretted my proudness for the support of this club. I live in a country where the big four rule in terms of support (Liverpool and Man Utd have about 60-70%). When I used to wear an Everton jersey in the town with the sponsor name One2One on, people would ask, "What team is that?"

Evertonians in England and the Everton board have no idea how the Everton brand has grown here in South Africa (and other countries around the world). Occasionally, on a weekend, when I go shopping, I?m guaranteed to see an Everton shirt being worn by someone and when I approach the individual for some banter about the club, they are really proud of being a supporter of the club that it sometimes makes me feel bad when I meet someone and I?m not wearing my jersey. So I don?t know if it?s because of Steven Pienaar playing for the club or the progress the club has made the past few years in terms of getting respect by beating the so called bigger teams (I hope it?s the latter).

And it?s not just the people I bump into in the malls... on our Monday Nite Football Show, you find Everton fans calling in and giving inputs on their views concerning football. I can count on my left hand how many times Man City fans called, so it was more clear to me that Everton fans have a growing fan base in this country. and (as I said earlier) I don?t think the people on Merseyside realize it.

It got me thinking then: if Everton are, or are becoming an international brand, is an international owner the best thing for this club? To be honest, I really don?t know!! What I do know is this:

That I cannot for the life of me, understand how foreigners are easily buying clubs left and right in England, when you are the bloody United Kingdom, you have the King and The Queen, the pound, you are the parents of football. The teenagers of the world come to your country for gap years and working holidays etc, not to Russia. There must be money in the UK. Yet the so-called Top Four/Sky Five are owned by foreigners ? don?t your top, super-rich British men and woman have a problem with that???

I would have thought, for the purpose of national sanity, a UK billionaire or a billionaire consortium could have come together and bought a Premier League club. You are a model country with a great cricket team and a top golfer, a great motorsport pedigree, among many other great things. For crying out loud, the EPL is the Premium Brand of world football! It?s like living in a neighborhood with lots of beautiful woman, and guys from another Neighborhood come in 1 by 1 and shag those girls... you just sit back and admire them. Simple as that. My article title is "The Patriot", defined simply as ?a person who loves his or her country and supports its interests?.

This is my challenge to my beloved fellow Evertonians! Are you guys not able to get a shortlist of UK billionaires and market the club to them? There is no way in hell that the custodians of a country can allow the country?s premium sporting brand be taken over left, right and centre by foreigners. It just doesn?t make patriotic sense, if you know what I mean. Are there lots of foreigners, owning basketball and baseball teams in the States or ice hockey teams in Canada?

Forget about Bill and the Board, do something the Liverpool way (as painful as it is to say): force the owners out, find a British billionaire/consortium and market the idea of patriotism to them (they don?t need to be Everton fans). Then get one of those Echo journalists to get buy in.

I know the Evertonians for Change initiative is in progress, but I?m just trying to come from a different perspective, wanting to motivate you guys to find a British billionaire and let the press run with it so it can be out there. Kenwright and his buddies won?t be able to hide and then will only be able to hang onto the defense that he is an Everton fan to keep the club ? the foreign ownership excuse won?t work.

If it?s in the press, in truth, he will feel the pressure. Sorry for being a bit personal on the UK patriot view, but that?s how I feel.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 05/03/2011 at 14:12:15

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Okay, step forward, who wants to take the first shot?

Global Village, cross-border investment, freedom of enterprise...

Oh, I'm bored of your question already.
Stephen Kenny
2   Posted 05/03/2011 at 14:21:19

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Excellent article, and good to get an foreigner's perspective on how the UK is viewed.

For me there is real value in the traditional English stuff. This is the angle that I think the club should use to market itself to foreign fans and potential investors (Buyers).

Clearly a lot of people in the old colonies still romanticise Britishness and there isn't a club in the EPL that does it the way Everton can.
Dave Brooks
3   Posted 05/03/2011 at 14:40:06

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A fresh perspective Jody.

While, for me, Michael (1)?s comments appear to be a pretty succinct dismissal of Jody?s proposal, I?d also like to hear any thoughts that posters might have on why more EPL clubs aren?t British owned, or ? in fact ? that they are and that a foreign-ownership dominated EPL is a myth.

(God, that was a long sentence.)
Jalil Noor
4   Posted 05/03/2011 at 18:14:30

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What about rich foreign fans owning their clubs? Aren't they patriots too in a sense. Granted not patriotism as defined by Jody but still....
Michael Kenrick
5   Posted 05/03/2011 at 18:21:39

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I can't help thinking there is no reasonable basis for Jody's opinion here. His comments about English comprehension of EPL support overseas suggests a very limited understanding of the real world either back in England or indeed anywhere outside of South Africa.

As for his comments about UK billionaires... well, people who have money decide what they are going to do with that money ? and there's a reason why they have money: usually they are very carful with their money, and sinking it into a Premier League club may not be a very sensible investment for many reasons that have been discussed on these pages. I suggest Jody does a bit more reading and develops a bit more world savvy, then he might develop a better understanding of the realities of big-money finance on the world stage... in the 21st Century.

In an age of global trade, worldwide travel by not only the loaded classes but most rich families are getting their money from one form or another of international finance, and the concept of 'patriotism' in such an arena is a dead duck.
Keith Young
6   Posted 05/03/2011 at 19:28:47

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I think Michael is all too cynical in his response. Jody questions the British mentality that may think only fools or insecure foreigners buy clubs. One thing I'm sure of ? if Michael was a billionaire, he wouldn't buy Everton ? perhaps like Bill, he's looking for a mug.
James Flynn
7   Posted 05/03/2011 at 19:20:03

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Jody - Interesting take. While I lack Michaels's ability to stick the needle in, have to agree with him regarding billionnaires and buying clubs. People serious about making money (which includes most billionnaires) don't invest in professional sports franchises. Waaaaaaaay to risky.

It's why cash-generating machines like ManU, the Yankees in baseball, and the Dallas Cowboys in American football don't appear on any stock exchange board in the world. Folks like us might buy a share just to say, "I'm a part owner of . . . . . . ", but anyone seriously looking to make money in the market would ignore them completely.

I'm American. We have several major pro sports leagues here. In my experience the super-rich who buy in are sports nuts who now have the cash to buy a team and a peculiar desire to see themselves on TV. (Something most billionnaires also avoid as much as buying sports teams.)

BTW - Good to hear the EFC profile is growing down your way.
Dennis Stevens
8   Posted 06/03/2011 at 00:04:28

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It's all owned by foreigners now - from the car industry to chocolate & now footie!
Dave Brooks
9   Posted 06/03/2011 at 10:31:31

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Morning !
Jalil (4) ? I don?t think they are patriots, no. Jody?s definition of patriotism looks pretty sound to me.

Michael (5) ? that?s a very convincing argument again.

Dennis (8) ? I can?t find any hard information out there, but what I did find points to 50% of EPL teams being British owned.
Anyone have more information on that?

I take the point that patriotism means nothing in international finance. But that doesn?t mean that nationality and national identity isn?t a global product that can make money (for someone). Business takes me to most of western Europe?s interior decoration trade fairs each year and if any ToffeeWeb posters had copyright on the Union Jack, they?d be able to buy Everton Football Club tomorrow.

Is Jody?s ?Britishness? card really so meaningless?
Dave Brooks
10   Posted 06/03/2011 at 10:31:47

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Just a quick disclaimer ? when I say "... would be able to buy EFC..." I don't, of course, mean that doing so would make good business sense...
Craig Wilson
11   Posted 06/03/2011 at 14:53:17

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There are no British billionaires!!!

They may start out British but, once they realise how much tax they have to pay to stay in this country, they're off like a shot to live in tax-free havens!!
Dave Brooks
12   Posted 06/03/2011 at 15:16:59

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Good point Craig (11), but they're still British even if their letter box is in Hong Kong, Guernesey, Switzerland, Jersey, the Caymans, etc... no?

I think what?s particularly interesting about Jody?s post is it encourages us to think about alternatives and alternative futures for football. It did that for me anyway.

It?s a tough job understanding how the EPL works and I?ve learnt a great deal by reading some excellent posts on ToffeeWeb these past few years.

It?s an even tougher job understanding how English football might work if the whole current model went pear-shaped.

Thanks Jody for an interesting insight on how things are down your way.
Christopher McCullough
13   Posted 06/03/2011 at 17:10:49

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"...melted my heart like sticky toffee (no pun intended)" I think you intended that one, mate.

Yep. Adam Smith mentioned it in 'the wealth of nations'. The bulk of capital always returns to financial and marketing headquarters (or the people with the most up to date/accurate information). In the English context, that means London. Everton's finance and marketing headquarters are a bad joke.

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