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Platini, our very own superhero?

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After reading our clubs' set of figures recently produced, it was greeted on ToffeeWeb with dismay and another knife to the heart to all supporters, hoping for a change in fortune.

A couple of things, however, need to be taken into consideration when analysing the running of Everton FC. Uefa have the new rulings effective in 2012, firstly on homegrown players in a 25-man squad. Each club must have at least 8 homegrown players, who, from the age of 15 to 21, have spent at least 3 seasons at the club. For example this covers the likes of Osman, Hibbert, Rodwell but not Baines, Neville, Jagielka.

An excellent idea which makes a club develop players through their own youth teams or scouting networks, identifying talent, usually from other countries, a la Wenger at Arsenal.

Does this create a level playing field? The sides at the top of the Premier League could, I guess, purchase homegrown players without making too much effort to actually play them and instead heavily invest on the other 17 players. Works great if there isn?t an injury crisis but what a risk to take. As well as us being skint, this ruling also explains our regular purchases over the last two years. If so, then it?s got to be classed as prudent management towards squad building.

The second ruling from Uefa is around the requirement for a club to basically only spend what you earn. Therefore, no matter who runs the club and how deep the personal pockets may be, the club cannot spend more than turnover and increase their debt to unsustainable levels.

For example, Man City?s turnover of £87M, similar to Everton?s, was dwarfed as we know, by a spend of £500M, Chelsea, turnover of £206M, against £600M outgoings, will be a thing of the past come 2012, especially with a current annual wage bill of £144M. These figures are still classed as a debt, so the owners have transferred this into equity and shares, basically buying out everything from the club. A one-off exercise, which leaves the owners with an inflated valuation of the club, eventually generating a huge loss on any re-sale to the owner and not an ongoing debt to the club.

These two clubs would break the new ruling and, along with Aston Villa with a turnover of £84M and a wage bill alone of £70M would be excluded from any European competition upon qualification.

Arsenal's and Man Utd?s turnover are both in the region of £300M, although Utd?s rising debt would risk the financial rule set and along with their current clutch of homegrown players expiring (G Neville, Schloes and Giggs), you can see why they were reportedly after Rodwell in the same way as Rooney was bought.

Spurs, which we seem to measure ourselves against in terms of what can be achieved, generated profits between 2007-09 of £40M but due to net transfer gains of £66M. Since then, they have spent £150M and increased debts to a figure of £80M. Before the Champions League, their revenue was £113M so, if Spurs miss out this season, whilst it may not be a Leeds Utd, watch this space as Redknapp departs to England in 2012, leaving behind yet another unsustainable spending spree.

Compare their Chairman to ours, by the way: Kenwright pays himself £60k a year, Daniel Levy for three years gave himself a £200k pay rise each year. Currently now frozen at a paltry £1M yearly salary. Smaller clubs trying to compete, for example like Bolton, have a debt of £93M, higher than their revenue of £70M, and they are getting close to selling assets such as Cahill and Elmander to survive.

As for them lot across the way, I think their figures are for another day... but, with two years of no Champions League football, their revenue will show a steep decline without any reduction in wages, currently the net transfer dealings keeping the owners happy. Whilst the club is debt free, the money still went against a team of investors who are in it for profit and are not prepared to throw £200M at new players anytime soon.

In footballing terms, Arsenal's way of running the club under Wenger puts them in good stead to dominate for the rest of this decade. Man Utd fans I think need their owners to sell the club; their turnover will see them in a strong position still to buy the best. Until then, their debt prevents them from doing so. Chelsea and Man City could easily be cut adrift by their owners by the end of the decade as a level playing field makes for an unfamiliar playground to these Billionaires.

Everton, (Arsenal wannabes?) may yet see a closing of the gap on the field over the next 6 years, obviously dependent on current transfer policy into youth paying dividends. A big ask, I know, and definitely no predictions of a top four finish next season just yet!

After checking out the top line details from other club's accounts ? and forecasting the effects the Uefa rulings will have on the Billionaires? playthings ?  maybe, just maybe, our club is not the financial basket case we currently perceive it to be.
Dave Price, Stockport     Posted 09/03/2011 at 16:34:57

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 09/03/2011 at 17:25:51

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That's an excellent contribution, Mr Price, and I very much appreciate the time and effort that obviously went into it. I think it's the first time someone has really taken a close look at this issue, which admittedly is a a little ways off: it won't help us next season, as I understand it... and the general consensus is we need help SOON!

The intent, if honest and true, is really admirable; a return to the level playing field. The reality, however, may be somewhat different.

I hate to be a cynic with such a promising opportunity but my fear is that these rich clubs will come up with all manner of financial schemes and loopholes to cook their books. My perception is they always have and they always will ? not just in football but throughout the murky world of big corporate business,.

I have absolutely no faith in accountants and auditors after the sub-prime fiasco and associated meltdown, but I'm sure someone in that line of business will tell me the rules have been changed to address the problems and the really bad actors (eg. Anderson COnsulting, was it?) have long since been sent packing.

So an excellent post, nevertheless... but I do have to take you to task on two phrases (hi-lited):

1) As I understand it, homegrown means being with ANY club in England and Wales (but not Scotland) during those formative years, not just your club. This is why Rodwell will command a massive fee. Also why Baines, Neville and Jagielka DO count as 'homegrown'.

2) Bill Kenwright on £60k from the club? First I've ever heard of that? Where did you get this from? The line has always been that Uncle Bill takes nothing from the club. (Except his plush air-heated seat in the Directors Box... and his lounge drinks... and his admission... and his matchday parking... and, and, and...)

Richard Dodd
2   Posted 09/03/2011 at 17:29:28

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News to me that BK pays himself £60k a year. I read a piece from the CEO recently that said our Chairman was almost unique in TAKING NOTHING from the Club ? not even expenses. Please supply your source, Mr Price.
Karl Masters
3   Posted 09/03/2011 at 17:28:57

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I 'd love to think this was what will happen, but.....

1/ I 'm sure these Clubs with wealthy owners will find a way round it. E.g. a limited edition shirt that gets sold for £20m at an' Auction' to a mystery un-named buyer for cash. Or an Executive box that charges £50m a season or something else they can put down to 'commercial activity'.

2/ Platini is no super hero for the little man. Far from it. Appalled at how the likes of Juventus, The Milan duo, Bayern, Marseilles etc have been elbowed out of it by the English Clubs (and to a degree by Madrid and Barca) he just wants to give the other 'G18' cartel members more of a chance. 3 English Clubs out of 4 in the Champions League semi's a couple of years back was the catalyst for this, remember. He hates English clubs with a passion.

Great article though. Well done, David.
Stephen Kenny
4   Posted 09/03/2011 at 18:02:13

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The only way our club will ever have a chance to compete is if Platini is genuinely serious about fair play initiatives and debt reduction in football.

If he were to bring financial sense to football it would arguably be one of the single greatest achievements in the game and would return the game to the fans.

I really, sincerely hope that this works out, not just for us but other clubs who can only recruit fans from their area by competing with the big boys.
Tom Mallows
5   Posted 09/03/2011 at 17:42:16

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A Great article! But, while a lot of what you say is valid, I hardly think someone like Roman Abramovich or Sheikh Mansour got where they are today by following rules imposed on them by someone else.

They do pretty much what they like and I thoroughly expect loopholes to be exploited by highly paid accountants employed by the clubs to ensure they pass Uefa's tests. Will Uefa pay their own accountants to question the clubs? I doubt it. Which is the most frustrating thing about football nowadays. Money talks, simple as.

Al Reddish
6   Posted 09/03/2011 at 18:26:59

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If I read this right, then it looks like this could be the last year that teams like Chelsea, Man. City, Man Utd etc can really splash the cash to buy the players they want to rebuild/strengthen their teams. This could be a bad thing if we hope to keep hold of Fellaini and Rodwell, but it should mean we can hold out for top dollar.
Jeremy Benson
7   Posted 09/03/2011 at 18:48:05

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The bottom line is this:

Oil-wealthed owners can afford better lawyers and accountants than Uefa can.

Therefore these rules are most likely to affect less fortunate clubs.

Go figure...
David Price
8   Posted 09/03/2011 at 18:44:01

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Sorry Michael, yes you are correct, it is 3 years at any English or Welsh club from the age of 15-21, so Baines etc is fine. Which is good news for us.

On the Kenwright salary, I read in our accounts from the previous year that 4 directors recieved £240k between them, would that include BK at 60k each? An assumption on my part on that one.

I too agree that these guys have probably had their legal finest developing a cunning plan for a while now, but it would be great if Platini had all the loopholes covered though.

David Israel
9   Posted 09/03/2011 at 18:49:46

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Karl, #3, I think you're spot on on both counts. Indeed, in point No 1, you could be quoting straight from The Italian & Spanish Clubs Guidebook to the New Uefa Rules (probably also to be used by assorted Russians and Arabs in the Premier League;-).

And Michael, #1, I think there is something about both homegrown players and players who come through the ranks of a club in Uefa's new rules.

But anyway, these rules will only apply for clubs playing in European competitions and, besides, the Premier League already has in place some rule regarding the minimum number of home-grown players in a club's squad.
Simon Templeman
10   Posted 09/03/2011 at 19:06:50

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You don't think that City and Chelski might not find exceptional shirt sponsorship deals (funded by companies run by their owners) to compensate and "balance" their books then?
Eugene Ruane
11   Posted 09/03/2011 at 19:50:58

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A very interesting piece but I think Karl Masters (3) is spot on (sadly).
Karl Masters
12   Posted 09/03/2011 at 21:01:00

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Eugene... are you sad that you agree with me (a rare occurrence recently, it has to be said) or sad that money rules everything? Or even both? :)
GJ Butler
13   Posted 09/03/2011 at 20:57:33

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Good Read.

Simon @ 10, I may be wrong but I think Platini has already begun the legislation stopping companies (whose shareholders already have an invested interest in the club) from signing sponsorship deals with clubs 'above the market price' - such as Abramovichs oil company adorning Chelsea kits or 'Roger Ramjet DVD box set' on the redshites. Though Barca's recent deal may well have set an unwanted benchmark in this department.

Either way, the G18 will come up with something.
James McGrady
14   Posted 09/03/2011 at 21:16:03

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I don't like Kenwright but he does NOT pay himself £60k a year. The financial figures released by the club proved this. Whether or not Elstone tried to bullshit how good these depressing figures were they did not anywhere state that Kenwright takes a penny out of the club.

I know Kenwright ain't selling until he gets the money he wants for the club but has never taken cent from Everton.
Eugene Ruane
15   Posted 09/03/2011 at 22:28:23

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I see what you mean Karl, I didn't phrase that well at all.

No I just meant it's sad that you are I'll start again.

What I mean is..erm..I think you ARE right and that is sad.

Oh for fuck's sake....I don't mean that, what I that it IS you being right that is sad, but not because it's YOU.

In other words, it's of what you say being sad.....but NOT because it is you saying it.

Is that right? you're just getting on my tits!
Ernie Baywood
16   Posted 09/03/2011 at 22:35:43

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Agree with everything above. It SHOULD be an improvement but we know full well that clubs will refuse to cooperate and exploit any loophole that they can.

West Ham played an illegal player and were allowed to stay up. And that's just West Ham. Do we really believe that anyone can challenge the big clubs?

They hold the clout. If they were ever threatened with action they would simply say they are leaving their respective organisations and are forming the Super League... which would leave the FA with, well, sweet FA, and Uefa with no international players for their tournaments.

In fact, this is more likely to start a breakaway Euro Super league isn't it? Or am I just being cynical?
David S Shaw
17   Posted 09/03/2011 at 22:58:49

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The "spend what you earn" rule will just re affirm the status quo of the same old clubs in the Champions League.

How dare Man City muscle in on the action!

They need to take money away from the Champions League and put a whole lot more of it into the Europa League. The Europa League will then be a stepping stone from the domestic league to the Champions League. This will bring the competition back into the sport.
James I'Anson
18   Posted 09/03/2011 at 23:27:45

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1. Karl is spot on. Limited edition shirts for 20m quid would go like hot cakes.

2. This will basically make the G18 stronger as nobody, not even a new Man City, will ever be able to compete.

3. If Plattini really wants to level the playing field, then we'll have a European wide wage cap (NET).

4. Man Utd will be fucked, until they start selling their own TV rights that is.
David Israel
19   Posted 09/03/2011 at 23:43:53

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I fully agree, David #17. If you take a club like Man Utd and apply the "spend what you earn" rule, they'll be gloating over the likes of Chelski. Think what you want of them, but they do earn their money.

But I don't think that rule is meant to be 100% strict. There's some tolerance, I believe, and furthermore, I think it can be successfully challenged in the courts.
James Flynn
20   Posted 10/03/2011 at 03:32:51

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Hahaha. Platini, or anyone, is really going to tell the EPL what it can and can't do and the league will just along in the best interest of the game? Not happening.

The EPL is far and beyond more popular across the planet then all other European top leagues put together. It's not even that close.

EPL calls the shots, money-wise. Not Platini, Liguini, or Scungili. EPL owners will do whatever they want (Barca and RM too).

Enjoyed this column, but fiscal responsibility being imposed on the EPL (and Barca and RM)? C'mon now.

James Flynn
21   Posted 10/03/2011 at 03:51:28

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Oh, and we don't need a superhero. We need 25-30 mil for a couple of predators.
Gavin Ramejkis
22   Posted 10/03/2011 at 07:48:49

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Doddy #2 do you have proof that BK doesn't claim expenses? Do you have proof he pays for his match tickets and travel? Do you have proof that he pays for his refreshments before and during the game? Do you know if he pays for his nice cozy seat warmer blanket plonked on his seat when he can be arsed to attend the game?

Karl #3, Peterborough have just released details of their £15,000 season ticket which if you Google will give you details, I'd put money on the Sky darlings doing exactly the same with even higher prices to get around to rules. Look how much tax Barclays have paid thanks to a team of expensive legal men; expect the top guns to employ similar rule bending/loophole tactics, Everton couldn't afford Sexy Rexy (Rex Makin for the uneducated) on legal aid.
Karl Meighan
23   Posted 10/03/2011 at 09:58:42

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Nice article but no mention of loopholes which others have correctly pointed out. This is not the first time Uefa have tried to stiff English clubs to aid other countries in European competition, it's not that long ago British players were considered foreigners in European competitions, which was abolished after the Italians, Spanish and others realised they also used lots of foreign players.

Fifa and Uefa come out with these ideas every so often probably to remind people that their board members are still alive and taking backhanders for favours or votes. These things always look nice on paper but have a habit of having the dates put back, I don't see much different with this latest new (old) proposal.

Mike Gray
24   Posted 10/03/2011 at 11:21:22

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Are you sure Billy Bullshitter pays himself £60k a year Dave? I'd check that out mate!! But if he does, then he is the cheekiest cunt at EFC.
Chris Matheson
25   Posted 10/03/2011 at 11:31:02

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I can't help but wonder that this live-within-your-means rule will allow the rich clubs to remain rich and keep the rest in their place.

The only real ways to stop this disparity of wealth would be a wages cap but, more than that, to abolish the Champions League and replace it with a European Cup format again.

It is this Champions League that has distorted wealth more than anything, even more than Sky and even more than the Premier League.
Brian Denton
26   Posted 10/03/2011 at 12:52:21

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Chris, given that the Champions League is here to stay, a more realistic option for getting football back to something like normality for 99% of clubs is a European Super League. Simply take the Oligarchs and greed merchants out of the equation and let them play each other every week.

Of course, for this to work, clubs like ours would have to give up dreaming of joining the aforementioned Oligarchs and greed merchants. But that ain't gonna happen, is it?

My other favoured outcome would be for EVERY Premier League club to be owned by a Russian Oil Billionaire or Arab Sheikh. They can't all win, and presumably would try to shoot or bribe their way to success. It would be fun to watch!

Noel Lynam
27   Posted 10/03/2011 at 13:01:25

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Karl Masters: "He hates English clubs with a passion"

Pure xenophobic nonsense ? don't believe everything you read in the Daily Mail. More likely what Platini is doing by attempting to create a level playing field, is securing votes from the so-called lesser lights among UEFA's members, which will ensure he gets re-elected and provide a platform for him to subsequently run for FIFA presidency.

However ? and I may be way off the mark here ? he might, just might, want to actually create a healthier competition and safeguard against clubs not living within their means. Sounds far fetched, I know. But a possibility, even if it doesn't fit in with conspiracy theories.
Dave Brooks
28   Posted 10/03/2011 at 14:23:04

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This is the kind of article which brings me back to ToffeeWeb again and again ? thanks Dave. Thought provoking analysis.

For additional reading, try the Swiss Ramble?s ?Is football?s gravy train slowing down?? ? posted yesterday.
Michael Kenrick
29   Posted 10/03/2011 at 15:10:43

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David (#8), a fair assumption... but it is not correct.

The remuneration paid to Directors, as listed in the accounts, was salary and benefits for one Keith Wyness who, as CEO also, was a paid member of the operating staff. You'll note that for 2010, it's gone to zero, as Wyness had by that time departed for the sunnier shores of the Mediterranean.

Sorry to nit-pick what was otherwise an excellent contribution!
Ray Robinson
30   Posted 10/03/2011 at 17:01:06

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The rule that each team must have at least 8 players in their squad who are "homegrown" may backfire (by the way, Cahill counts as "homegrown") because, if you notice, the top teams are scouring the world for top talent at the age of 15 or 16, which means that academies will soon be stuffed with young players from abroad to the exclusion of British stars, purely to increase the number of "homegrown" players. Ok, young players do not always mature as expected but you can bet that when e.g. Chelsea pay £3m for a youngster, there is a better than average chance that he will succeed.

Secondly, the rule regarding expenditure must not exceed income is pointless if a Russian billionaire or an Arab Sheikh simply writes out a cheque for a £100m. If he is prepared to write that amount off totally, it surely counts as income and is not a leveraged debt? I do agree that City and Chelsea are in big trouble when their backers pull out but that is a different issue.
Karl Masters
31   Posted 10/03/2011 at 18:22:19

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Noel Lynam

Not a conspiracy theory. Platini is just a sport politician. Politicians, if you haven't realised yet, are really only interestecd in themselves and their own type.

Don't be fooled. All Platini wants is for the traditional hierarchy (which he has strong links with) to be restored and for gatecrashers to be kept out ? which basically means English clubs with enough money to hoover up all the best players. By bringing it back to football-generated income, he is more likely to succeed.

And, yes, as somebody said, put himself in a good position to run Fifa when Blatter goes. A nice little career move for him if he can be seen as a hero in the the central European axis.
Denis Byrne
32   Posted 10/03/2011 at 20:40:27

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Great piece, Dave, thought provoking and optimistic, which is welcomed! Having a Grade 'C' CSE Maths, I'm not great on the economics, but as suggested, it just seems unlikely that the G18 and Sky 4 (or 5 or 6 whatever it is) will allow any sustainable challenge to the status quo ... (down down, deeper an down...), and being a bit of an American sport lover, there is clearly a lot to learn from our cuzzins (apart from ESPN being infinitely superior to SKY).

The means to equality is in an equal distribution of the key asset. The finiancial asset is too readily open to challenge. A system of equal distribution of the player asset is the anwser. admittedly tricky in our open structure of promotion and relegation, (and possibly not feasible given the power weighting), but if we shifted the focus and had a similar system of the weakest clubs having access to the best players then we might achieve some parity. Sorry, just a thought and Yeh yeh, I hate pipedreams too ... any thoughts from our Amercan bros?

Tony Wilson
33   Posted 10/03/2011 at 22:34:13

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Whilst this article is an interesting insight into a football playing field that is more level, it is both unachievable and contradictory.

The reason it is unachievable is spelt out by other contributors above; i.e. the business elite are almost untouchable in a capitalist world.

The reason it just doesn't make sense to me is that your idea of making things fairer is not fair. If spending is solely connected to revenue then the already established elite clubs that have highly devloped revenue streams from huge fanbases, premium TV rights, and corporate sponsorship, will be untouchable. Clubs like Everton will continue to be bottom feeders.

The sad truth is hard to accept. Blatter's initiative is lip service to the increasingly frustrated clubs of Europe that cannot compete due to the dominance of the Premier League as a product.

Even if you got your wish, how could you say it was fair? Leeds have been outside of the Premier League now for so long that we effectively stole one of their best players whilst they could only watch in despair. I am not sure of the exact figure but I am sure they have a similar number of fans to Everton, and they are a good traditional English club.

The day that players were no longer playing for local pride and fun this path was inextricably set, and now I can't even describe top football as a sport. It is entertainment.

If you truly want to be a sports fan then follow a school or local community team.

If you want to watch Everton or any other top club, accept the show for what it is and don't take it so seriously.

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