A Culture of Failure

By Steve Hogan 25/07/2015  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

As the giant roof on our neighbours' new main stand in their on-going ground redevelopment becomes an iconic feature of our city, and further highlights the demise of our own football club, it's perhaps worth trying to catalogue the culture of failure which is currently present among the guardians of Everton Football Club.

It was 2 July, 2002 that the Board of the English Partnership granted Everton 'preferred bidder' status in their stadium application for the Kings Dock on the City's waterfront. This was actually the hard part as there were a number of equally worthy applications from interested parties looking to develop the site. By 31 December 2002, the dream was officially over, dead in the water, because Everton could not raise the £30m required on their part.

Fast forward then to 2006 and Destination Kirkby when the 'move' was first mooted. The public enquiry that followed in 2008 was probably Everton's most embarrassing moment in the whole project, when the club's naïvete and that of its advisors was laid bare for all to see. Before that public debacle, Ian Ross, the club's then press officer declared, "We are talking to some of the biggest companies in the world" when asked about potential naming rights for the new stadium. Really?

Two years later, in November 2010, a new £9m retail and administrative development opposite the Park End stand – Everton Place – was announced by Robert Elstone as "an exciting phase in the development of Goodison Park." Sorry, but I thought Goodison was not for redevelopment? Oh, by the way, did anybody check that there may be an existing 'charge' on the land?

Finally, in September 2014, the club announced that it had identified a new site in Walton Hall Park as a potential location for a new ground, along with two local partners, Liverpool City Council and Liverpool Housing Trust. In the current economic climate, who on earth would champion a 'strapped for cash' city council and a local housing trust as its 'enabling' partners? Less than 12 months later, the plan has effectively been dropped by the club, almost without a whisper.

I apologise if I seem to be going over old ground with the events of the last 15 years, but having spent the last 30 years of my career working in industry, I have never witnessed such a dereliction of duty by a major organisation with an annual turnover approaching £100m. Chief executives have been run out of town for much less, yet we have the cosy relationship between Kenwright and Elstone stumbling from one disaster to another, almost every four years. At least they're consistent!

I fear for the future of my football club almost as much as I fail to understand the tolerance of what seems like the majority of our fan base, who seem to watch as the club dies a long slow and agonising death.

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