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The Park End Stand - 20 years old this week

by   |   21/08/2014  Comments (45)  jump

It's 20 years yesterday since the Park End stand opened for its first League game, a 2-2 draw with Aston Villa on August 20, 1994.

Although a big improvement on the old 1906 built structure, it looks now to have been a massive missed opportunity. The original plans, unveiled in April 1991, were for a 10,000 seater double decker stand to line up and join the Bullens Road stand.

However, symptomatic of the depressing 'Dr David Marsh' era, the Board, including a certain Bill Kenwright, deemed it unlikely we would need a capacity of more than 40,000. So, instead a single tier 6,000 seat structure was built, costing a mere £2.3m, of which £1.8m was a grant from the Football Trust.

Even at the time, it seemed short sighted and we ended up with something not big enough, noticeably further back from the playing area than the Gwladys Street end, and out of keeping with all the other multi-tiered stands.

So, 20 years on, do you regard it as a missed opportunity of 4,000 extra fans at many games from a penny-pinching Board or a prudent move to get the stand replaced at the lowest possible cost?

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Reader Comments (45)

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Peter Laing
1 Posted 21/08/2014 at 17:11:56
Spent one season in the Park End 2 years ago with my two boys (on their first junior season tickets) and didnt enjoy the experience and renewed last year in the Upper Glady. Terrible to trying to exit the stand from the back on the final whistle, generally a bit moody in terms of atmosphere and freezing cold with the sun shining towards the Glady when it makes a very rare appearance !
Steve Carse
2 Posted 21/08/2014 at 17:39:59
An awful stand, not befitting of our status and certainly out of sync with the rest of the ground. Far too small and bland. And amazingly, as I discovered with going to the preseason friendly there, smaller than the home goal stand at Tranmere!

As I recall it wasn't a matter of it being believed there was no need for it to be any bigger, rather the decision was, as usual, to do with affordability.

I notice that Cardiff have just added a tier to one of their stands at a cost of just a few million. Despite all the money coming into the club via new TV deals (㿀m pa) there seems to be no inclination to address the capacity or the corporate facilities issues. Depressing.

Paul Hewitt
3 Posted 21/08/2014 at 17:46:41
Cant believe its been twenty years. Had a season ticket for 10 season in the Park End. I thought there was plans to make it bigger?
Phil Guyers
4 Posted 21/08/2014 at 17:45:00
That whole time of the early nineties was a massive missed opportunity from which we are only slowly recovering even now. We helped to create the Premier League and then had absolutely no idea how to exploit the new situation to our advantage.

From being Champions in 1987, we really should have been relegated in 1994 and it has always baffled me how we managed to deteriorate so quickly. It seems to me that, once we had a couple of mediocre seasons, the board completely lost its nerve and budgeted for failure. The Park End stand was just one aspect of this totally unambitious policy - Brett Angell being another!

Mike Allison
5 Posted 21/08/2014 at 18:14:54
Steve that's because the plan is to move to a new stadium. You wouldn't undertake major building work on something you were planning to move out of.

What's depressing is that apparent lack of any progress whatsoever on a new stadium. We risk just going over old ground here, but despite the footprint difficulties I'm still convinced Goodison could be redeveloped into an excellent stadium of around 50,000. A bigger Park End would be a start.

Dave Williams
6 Posted 21/08/2014 at 20:19:11
Phil - we spent crazy money on mediocre players – eg.Cottee ٠.3m, Nevin 𨀼k, McDonald 𧺬k, Newell ٟ.1m, Beagrie 𧾦k – so when HK returned for his second stint there was nothing left in the pot. He sold our two remaining good players in McCall and Keown and proceeded to waste ٟm of it on Mo Johnston.

A catalogue of poor management from Everton legends and zero support from the most inept board in our history.

That is why Moyes deserves a medal for how he pulled us around on a shoestring rather than the rubbish which some have written about him.

Paul Hewitt
7 Posted 21/08/2014 at 20:43:10
Phil, the reason things went down hill was the RS got us banned from Europe. I'm convinced Kendall would have stayed if we had been in Europe and things would have been different.
Danny Broderick
8 Posted 21/08/2014 at 21:03:44
4,000 extra seats paying 㿔 each 20 games a season = ١.2 million. If it costs 㾶 million to do, it's paid for itself within 3 years.

Fag paper maths, but however you work it out, it pays for itself within a few years as long as you sell the tickets. And seeing as we have sold 75% of tickets for this season already, it's not a massive leap of faith to say we would sell an extra few thousand every week. We might have cup runs, European nights, sponsorship around the sign, catering etc which would bring in money too.

If only the board had a bit of foresight...

Nick Entwistle
9 Posted 21/08/2014 at 21:14:08
It would look mundane even in Stadium Tesco. Never liked it.
Karl Masters
10 Posted 21/08/2014 at 22:11:27
Well, whether we stay at Goidison or not, every year that goes by I get more and more annoyed by the antics of our Board.

Yes, a complete lack of ambition back in the early 90's with the patronising Club Secretary, Jim Greenwood always good for pouring a bucket of cold water over any ideas to take the Club forward. As conservative a bunch of pepe as you could ever get. Complacent doesn't even begin to describe it in my opinion.

But today, there is talk of a new stadium, but with what capacity? 50,000 is not enough, 60,000 might be.

I get so tired of hearing people say we can't fill the stadium now, so where are all these fans coming from? Firstly, we already have more than enough fans to fill it, we just don't all go every week due to many factors, but not being able to buy tickets in groups of more than one or two puts you off taking the kids for a start, despite the generous children's proving structure. Obstructed views are another. I certainly don't want a 500 mile round trip to have a pillar blocking my view of the goal or the peering through a letterbox view of the Lower Bullens.

Sunderland's crowds more than doubled after the move to the Stadium Of Light, same for Southampton, Leicester, Derby, while Arsenal saw an instant gain of more than 20,000 fans a match. Man City's crowds went up 12,000 a match after leaving Maine Road and their team was crap. I do hope that we don't look back in another 20 years and regret having an inept Board......

Patrick Murphy
11 Posted 21/08/2014 at 22:31:29
Karl of course we could find 60,000 people to fill the ground if we had a good winning team and the prices were reasonable, although I happen to believe that 50-55k would be acceptable less than that and it probably wouldn't be worth the hassle. Remember the 1985 average gate was circa 32,000 but we could have pulled in excess of 50,000 on certain occasions if the ground had been permitted to hold so many.

I think we have a good hard-core of supporters and many more who would visit Goodison if they were guaranteed a good view of the game. Problems with the average age of the current fan-base may prove problematic in 10 to 20 years.

Ray Roche
12 Posted 21/08/2014 at 22:39:58
Karl, we have only AVERAGED more than 50k per week once and that was in 62-63 when we averaged 51,603 per week. Thirty years later we were down to 19k average per week. Even the great 1980s teams only managed 32k average.Ten years ago, with the optimism Moyes brought and a 4th place finish, we were just under 39k per week so I'd be very interested in hearing where the extra 15-20k PER GAME are going to come from.

Sure, we're enjoying decent attendances right now and I hope it will continue but there is nothing worse than seeing 20,000 empty seats around a ground which is what I believe we'd see if we were suddenly presented with a new 60,000-seat ground. We need consistent success on the field before we see a continuous, permanent increase in attendances and it's on the field we should be concentrating our efforts.

Phil Guyers
13 Posted 21/08/2014 at 23:14:33

Great comment about Moyes. Totally agree.

Phil Walling
14 Posted 21/08/2014 at 23:44:54
The mistakes started in the Moores era when plans for a cantilever Main Stand were scrapped to save a paltry 𧷤K !
Ste Traverse
15 Posted 21/08/2014 at 23:59:05
The board at Everton have been shit for years, but we were lucky to get 20,000 gates for many matches in the early-90s so I don't really blame them for going for a stand which made the ground only a 40,000 seater.
Eric Myles
16 Posted 22/08/2014 at 01:36:30
Karl #10, there's many that regret having an inept board now, now need to wait 20 more years for the penny to drop.
Bobby Thomas
17 Posted 22/08/2014 at 01:37:38
Ray Roche #12

The new stadium effect, increased gates, is documented fact. I've posted figures on here in relation to it and will happily provide them again.

Plus in the seasons we won the league in the 80s the Redshite were averaging 30k in the middle of one of the most dominant spells in club football anywhere ever.

The area was on its arse and it's a false representation.

Our gates are increasing and this is in a stadium that actively discourages people from attending for reasons we know.

People just want to see the club means business. Give people something to hold onto. Progress the club. Build momentum.

An Everton FC regularly qualifying for Europe and having a go? Coupled with a ground move that people could get behind?

We'd fill 50k, easy.

There's loads of latent support for the club out there and, putting it bluntly, our current ground is shite.

Karl Masters
18 Posted 22/08/2014 at 02:44:05
Agree, Bobby, and disagree with you, Ray.

The mid '80s is not a time to compare to now. Based on that, 1985-86 only FOUR clubs averaged over the 20,800 averaged at Spurs: Arsenal 23,900; Everton 32,900; Liverpool 35,500 and Man Utd 45,000.

Football was still a working class preserve and working class areas were being pummelled by Tory economic policies.

Your point about us only averaging over 50,000 once is an interesting one, because until the modern era and larger capacities at Old Trafford, St James Park and the Emirates, only Everton and Newcastle and Man Utd had broken the 50000 average barrier since WW2. So, I believe that demonstrates what is possible with Everton in relation to other teams.

Nowadays, Football has a totally different place in the lives of all social classes doesn't it? The potential audience is almost limitless. We seem to be every other supporter's second favourite team, America has woken up to us, we have a very good profile which will attract new fans from everywhere.

We would average 50,000 almost immediately. But this time room to grow a bit more needs to be built in. Are our Board blessed with enough vision to see this? Or are they just in it for the short term?

Karl Masters
19 Posted 22/08/2014 at 03:03:57
Yes Eric, I know that. Been inept and complacent about the stadium for 40 plus years now, will it ever end?

We went from hosting a World Cup semi final in 1966 to being behind Bristol City and Derby when considered for the England 2018 bid!

Paul Columb
20 Posted 22/08/2014 at 06:15:01
Has anyone heard news if the Walton Hall Park stadium plan (rumored location) or anything associated with the update which was to be prior to the new season on the subject?
Christopher Timmins
21 Posted 22/08/2014 at 06:38:18
The need for a new stadium is a no-brainer and probably holds the key in the long term to achieving a top 4 spot!
Erik Dols
22 Posted 22/08/2014 at 07:29:10
Ray Roche, "Ten years ago, with the optimism Moyes brought and a 4th place finish, we were just under 39k per week so I'd be very interested in hearing where the extra 15-20k PER GAME are going to come from."

You say this like the 39k should have been 50k or 60k? Do you realise that an average of 39k is pretty much a sell-out every single home match as the maximum capacity is around 40k and some teams do not fill out the away end? That it means selling around 4,000 obstructed views every home match?

Ridiculous comment, if anything that season proved that Everton could fill a bigger stadium without obstructed views easily.

Andy Finigan
23 Posted 22/08/2014 at 08:32:27
We could quite easily add 10,000 with the addition of a new extension above the Park End if we introduced standing in the lower Park End.
Ray Roche
24 Posted 22/08/2014 at 09:12:06
Eric, Karl, Bobby,

If you will note, I also mentioned the 62-63 campaign as well as the 1980s. In the 1960s we had a stadium capable of holding more than 74,000 yet managed more than 50,000 average only once. Despite football being very popular, despite the RS being in OUR shadow and also, these were the days when the only live football on TV were the England Internationals and the FA Cup Final, so if you wanted live football you went to the game.

I honestly wish we could bring in enough fans to average 50,000 every week and not just against Man Utd, Arsenal, Man City and the RS but I can't see it happening*. I've been a regular at Goodison for nearer 60 than 50 years and would just love to see it full every week, without the "obstructed view" excuse.

And yes, Erik, I do realise "39k is pretty much a sell-out every single home match " and, no, it's not a "ridiculous comment". We DO need success on the field to stand any chance of a continued increase in attendance to the levels you think are easily attainable.

*Unless, of course, you can get the kids of today away from their iPads, computer games and such crap.

Karl Masters
25 Posted 22/08/2014 at 09:38:20
Funnily enough, Ray, it's the technological era we are now in that has opened up the Premier League to more people in this country and abroad.

Before live football on TV, people like Brian Clough said if it ever happened it would be the death if football as everybody would watch it on TV rather than go to watch it live. The complete reverse has happened.

iPads, computers, football websites like this have just enabled the interest levels to explode.

I agree a successful team is required to get big attendances, but not as much as it used to. It's not the 1960s anymore. The world is effectively a much smaller place, information us everywhere, transport is much improved and there is more disposable income generally available. By harking back to the 80s or the 60s you are missing the point completely.

Kevin Tully
26 Posted 22/08/2014 at 09:58:24
You cannot possibly compare the '60s, '70s or '80s to today's football. Fellas pissing into an Echo and down your leg whilst being crushed into metal barriers. Getting the shite kicked out of you if went up the wrong street. Even travelling to the game was a nightmare in those days, it was like a scene out of The Warriors.

Now, you will see women taking their kids to the match, or young families happily munching on a packed lunch before the game starts. It's a game of superstar footballers. A glamour game with perfectly manicured pitches all year round, and people want to take their kids to experience it.

Put 10,000 in family section at a new ground with the current pricing structure and it would sell out, no problem.

The only thing that hasn't changed is the 'the Redshite' — they're still a gang of knob 'eads.

Karl Masters
27 Posted 22/08/2014 at 10:18:13
Perfectly explained, Kevin! :)
Ed Fitzgerald
28 Posted 22/08/2014 at 11:05:36
Kevin Tully,

Whilst I agree with some of what you say about the changing nature of football in the last two decades, it has also lost its soul as a result. Whilst I abhor the hooliganism that characterised some of the '70s and '80s, football clubs in the UK have sold out to the Premier League making it another globalised product for consumption. There was an alternative model we could have followed – the one that exists in Germany; this would have made the game more affordable, noisy and passionate.

The way things are heading with the 39th game ideas etc, how long is it before we have our first football franchise?

Erik Dols
29 Posted 22/08/2014 at 11:20:05
Ed, totally agree with you. It's a good thing that hooliganism and racism are banned, that it's safe to visit an away match and that the eating, drinking and toilets at the stadiums are at least half-decent these days.

I do not want to idealise the old times. But we could have done without the Disneyfication. Atmospheres at matches in Germany and Holland are on average better than in the Premier League. And it used to be the other way around.

Tony J Williams
30 Posted 22/08/2014 at 11:59:05
Don't like it. Only ever been in there once when Everton screened the game against Blackburn where Richard Wrong saved a penalty.

Lower Gwladys for me every time.

Jon Ferguson
31 Posted 22/08/2014 at 12:04:52
The Park End was a massive wasted opportunity. People say we were planning on moving and so did not want to waste the cash, fair enough, except there were no detailed plans to move, the Kings Dock fiasco didn't come along until almost a decade later and the even bigger fiasco of Project Kirby a few years later.

I think now a new stadium is a must, but if we could time travel, a structured rebuild, starting with the Park End being built further back allowing for the Gwladys Street to eventually be extended forward, and potentially turning the Lower Bullens into executive boxes would have been amazing. Eventually the roof on the main stand would have had to be removed as well. All this required forward planning that we just didn't have.

Those saying we should not expand capacity are completely ignoring the obstructed views etc of the stadium. I would point blank refuse to sit in the Lower Bullens or the back of the Gwladys Street, you just can't see the game properly and the ٟ concession is an insult. With a modern stadium with unobstructed views and with intelligent pricing of tickets, for big games we could probably fill 60,000. I wouldn't really want more than 50-55,000 though as it would destroy the atmosphere for the Saturday afternoon's against Bolton or Blackburn (or whoever).

In addition, we should be planning for where we want to be, not where we are. Concentrating on the present has got us into the mess we're in currently.

Dave Abrahams
32 Posted 22/08/2014 at 12:28:23
Why do people still go on about a Board of Directors at Everton? — there is no Board — only Kenwright.

Robert Earl is the invisible man in America, Jon Woods is the quiet man who has never uttered a word about Everton, and Sir Philip Carter, with all due respect, is really just a nominal member with just a few 100 shares.

Until we get some more investors, I canÂ’t see any real progress... only talk and more talk!

Karl Masters
33 Posted 22/08/2014 at 14:40:25
As mentioned in another thread, when appointed to the Board 25 years ago, Kenwright said he didn't do committee meetings, never had and never would. Can't say we weren't warned!

In the words of Gavin Ramjekis, Kim Jong Bill reigns unopposed, a dictatorship propped up by a couple of Spurs fans.

Don't be surprised to see his portrait placed exactly four feet off the floor directly opposite the windows or doors of every Lounge or room in Goodison tomorrow! Ball boys high goose stepping around the pitch and his face all over the big screens in the stadium. :)

Dave Roberts
34 Posted 22/08/2014 at 15:27:39
I find the argument as to whether we could fill a 50 or 60 thousand stadium interesting. For me it's not only obstructed views, success on the pitch or the attraction itself of a new's also about affordability. I don't think there is anything special about me and yet I personally know of six Evertonians, two adults and four children (not all from the same family) who would like nothing better than to attend home games at least but simply cannot afford it. For a mum and dad and two kids the cost of admission alone is approaching 𧴜, never mind any other expenses. How many people on wages at or around the minimum wage can afford that? Consecutive home games in the space of a week would be totally impossible.

I don't expect everybody to know six people who can't afford to attend but if every sixth Evertonian knew ONE, which I feel is reasonable to expect, then there's another 7000 above the sell out figure of around 39500. So affordability could mean a gate of 47000 without anything else happening to encourage attendance.

For this reason the current campaign for Safe Standing at Stadia may be very important in not only helping all stadia to be better attended but in making it possible for watching games to become affordable. Standing can be made safe there is no doubt about that and vast terraces containing 20000 fans would be a definite no-no. but standing can be made safe in areas such as paddocks or perhaps reserved areas in the corners of stadia.

There's no reason at all why making the game affordable for all could not result in attendances at a revamped Goodison (or a new stadium) of 50000 the norm. There are more than enough Evertonians out there. A new stadium effect , better facilities and, most importantly success on the pitch could add considerably to that figure and towards 60000 and hence the club needs to look to the future and growth needs to be built into whatever plans they make and the false economy of pricing people out of the game must stop.

I have every sympathy for the Hillsborough families and support them in almost everything they are trying to achieve. But we cannot allow them to dictate forever how people may watch the game of football. Hillsborough was not about standing being was about certain stadia and police behaviour and lack of intelligence being unsafe to the point of incompetence.

Patrick Murphy
35 Posted 22/08/2014 at 16:41:44
Robert Elstone in his blog today says that EFC have sold 27,500 season tickets and around 4,500 of those have been bought for the children. Which is obviously a good thing for the club. But I too worry about the ability of the lower earners in the community being able to afford the price of a ticket on a match by match basis.

Lower earners are less likely to have access to credit facilities and therefore 㿔 taken from a weekly wage is a fair chunk not to mention other costs such as transport and refreshments.

There is little doubt that the demographics of those attending football matches is vastly different to what it was even twenty years ago - it might also explain some of the games lacking in atmosphere on occasion, compared to those earlier times.

If Everton FC do ever move into a new stadium they will have to consider those factors even more than they do at the moment and perhaps move away from the notion of a season ticket and more towards an annual membership which grants access to matches for a twelve month period or variations of that idea.

Declan Brown
36 Posted 22/08/2014 at 17:07:28
𧺬,000 for a brand new 6,000 all seater stand is the type of business Kenwright seems to pride himself on. But how much extra would have an extra tier cost back in those days and the potential windfalls of such an idea?

How long would tickets sales for the Park End to cover the 𧺬,000 outlay, a season maybe? Short sighted lack of ambiition at it's frustrating worst! It really is frightening just how much of a skinflint this club has been under his stewardship, we don't even own our own training ground.

Everytime something about re-developing Goodison or moving is mentioned all I can think of is The Kings Dock disaster. Kirkby was a lucky escape, but the Kings Dock was our gateway to a prosperous future. What a future it may well could have been!

With all the money awash in the game right now, clubs should have no problem filling stadiums these days, simply you reduce the prices until demand meets supply and you get full houses but at reduced prices. TV money alone should be keeping clubs solvent and able to keep facilities at their best. Well, in a Eutopian world anyway...

Ray Roche
37 Posted 22/08/2014 at 16:27:32
Karl, you make some good points, yes, technology may well have opened up the Premier League to more people but I would suggest that that idea relates more to supporters abroad, as witnessed in our Blues fans in far flung places taking part in the match day thread. Sky and now BT Sport has played a major role in the interest in football that has grown in recent years at home, though. However, I think that that interest is more with the arm chair or pub going fan more than the match going fan. Which is why the "knob 'eads" (thanks Kevin!) can claim such a large following.

Dave Roberts @35

Dave, you have hit the nail on the head, if prices were reduced, especially for children or families, THEN we would have a better chance of increasing our fan attendance and filling a 55-60k stadium. AND encourage a youthful fan base to continue following the club when the older fans have gone belly up.

Karl Masters
38 Posted 22/08/2014 at 19:43:26
Yes Ray, you have eventually come to the same conclusion as me! Build it big enough to accommodate 10,000 heavily discounted seats for people on lower incomes and benefits and hey presto! You have more fans attending and are growing your fan base of the future.

Exactly what could and should already have been happening but a lost opportunity back in 1994 due to in ambitious, timid decisions from the Board.

Think about it.

Gwladys Street with hemmed in footprint: capacity 12000.

Park End with plenty of space to build: capacity 6000.

As Dave Roberts mentions and others allude to, we all know of fans who would love to go if they could afford to. West Ham are basing their plans on filling the Olympic stadium on a price structure like this and they need to get 27000 extra fans a game to do it, but see it as easily achievable.

Stephen Brown
39 Posted 22/08/2014 at 22:03:20
My best memory of the Park End was when it wasn't there when we beat Wimbledon 3-2 in that famous game. I was there as a 15-year-old being bear-hugged by an old man behind me at the final whistle!

I was looking forward at that time to it being built but was sadly underwhelmed!

Chris Matheson
40 Posted 22/08/2014 at 22:54:56
I recall hearing that, structurally, the park end stand is substandard and could not easily be extended with a second tier. It was something along the lines of the steelwork was strong enough only for one tier, or the foundations only deep for the one tier. If either of these are the case then it again demonstrates a very unimaginative and short term approach by our Board then.

Ray Said
41 Posted 23/08/2014 at 16:49:49
My memory is that Tom Hughes posted that the foundations were only sufficient for the current stand and would not support a bigger structure than the current stand.

My preference would be to rip the Park end down , build proper foundations and use the space to make a monster 18k+ seater triple decker stand and make it a unique feature of the ground . A lot of people seem to want uniform even stands but no reason we should follow the mob-go for the unique and lead like we used to do.

Simon Jones
42 Posted 24/08/2014 at 10:32:54

I have heard exactly the opposite rumour, that the foundations were deep/strong enough for another tier and it would have happened if attendances in the 90s had warranted it (which they weren't). Does anyone actually know the true answer?

Karl Masters
43 Posted 24/08/2014 at 13:56:56
Ironically, Simon, from the moment it was built, our attendances went right up. From 22,000 in 93-94 to 31,000 in 94-95 to 36,000 in 95-96 which is, give or take a bit each way, where they have stayed ever since. The Board failed to recognise that new facilities even more than a successful team draw in fans. Once the habit has formed, they tend to keep coming for a long time.

I think that the picture / architect's drawing shown in the Coventry programme on April 23, 1994 shows very limited foundations. However, I believe you can effectively suspend a second tier over the first one using either cantilevers or what is often referred to as a 'goalpost' and, in theory at any rate, there is no reason why the foundations for either of those supports could not be placed in the ground behind the current structure.

Simon Jones
44 Posted 24/08/2014 at 14:49:24
It's pretty much down to the the will of the owners then. I'm sure if the desire to build another tier was there, then a way could be found to build it. One of the reasons Arsenal wanted a bigger ground was they could see how much they were set to lose on gate receipts compared to say, Man Utd.
Karl Masters
45 Posted 24/08/2014 at 13:56:56
I don't believe the will is there, Simon. They have a downer on spending big on Goodison because it won't benefit them personally as much as building something new elsewhere.

I am not totally opposed to moving, but if we are to leave Goodison and all its good points (atmosphere that other teams don't like; history; keeping it costs less than building new; good transport links etc) then it had better be to something and a location worth giving all that up for.

Kirkby was a disgraceful attempt to move us to a crap design of stadium in a rubbish location (from a stadium point of view) and to deceive the fans all to line certain individual's pockets. Therefore, I'll be looking very carefully at what is being proposed when this impending announcement is made.

After last time, we should all be very wary indeed.

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