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Friday, January 31, 2014

Throughout the Kenwright era Everton’s accounts have always featured an imaginative preamble, creative summaries coupled with emotional reviews of off-field activities which, whilst having little impact on the matters in hand, served only to deflect from the root cause of Everton’s prevailing problems, the non-performance of a demonstrably inept board and the insipid activities of an equally inept management team who continually lunge from one expensive crisis to the next such as Kirkby, Everton Place and the embarrassing and ultimately costly badge fiasco.

This year, somewhat surprisingly, they have surpassed themselves; an eighty page document, a massive 150% increase on recent years, leads the reader firmly down a long and well-trodden path. The question is, why?

In terms of the preamble, less would have definitely been more as, in comparison to previous years, the accounts presented this year appear positively glowing, turnover is up, costs are being controlled, it’s a club so lean and mean Mr Micawber would have been ecstatic, a club perfectly positioned to take advantage of this year’s massive windfall from the Premier League’s increased media payments. Yet perhaps the theatrical presentation and the equally positive accompanying press release, which the vast majority in the media will unquestioningly regurgitate, fails to hide the full story, fails to disguise the underlying trend seen by the more discerning eye.

The stark reality is that earnings remain insufficient to drive the business forward; indeed EBITDA yet again fails to even cover the interest payable on loans, borrowing, from unidentifiable offshore entities, remains a necessity with a further £10m borrowed during this period and player purchases, perfectly balanced via sell to buy, remain wholly dependent on continued disposals resulting in a heavy reliance on a short-sighted player recruitment policy whilst Everton’s continued inability to address the commercial opportunities, being exploited by all other clubs, continues to be somewhat of an elusive challenge, a major hindrance to competing financially with their peers in the Premier League.
Thursday, November 28, 2013

It seems like only yesterday that we were talking to our friend and colleague, yet, remarkably, it has been six years since we’ve had the pleasure of the company of one of life’s most charismatic Evertonians, AJ Clarke.

Time may have passed quickly, yet for some, his family and closest of friends, the daily journey without their son, husband, father, grandfather and lifelong friend has been an excruciating one, for unlike the perpetrators of the heinous crime which took AJ’s life, their sentence is a lifelong one as they remember AJ on each passing day.

As ever we at KEIOC ask every Evertonian to take a moment, raise a glass or simply remember a favourite moment to honour the life of Anthony James Clarke who died on this day in 2007.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The FSF will hold Watching Football Is Not A Crime! in Liverpool on Thursday 28th November (7pm-9pm). Register for free by sending your name and club to events@fsf.org.uk. This event is open to fans of all clubs:

Date: Thursday 28th November 2013 (6pm doors, 7pm start) Venue: Epstein Theatre, 85 Hanover Street, L1 3DZ

Register free: Simply email your name and club to events@fsf.org.uk

Panellists: Supt Chris Markey (Force Operations, Merseyside Police); David Lewis (Head of Security and Stadium Safety, Everton); Dr Joel Rookwood (Senior Lecturer, Hope University); Amanda Jacks (Caseworker, FSF). The event will be chaired by the FSF’s Michael Brunskill.

Fans tweeting from the event should use #WFINAC.

While we understand that some fans might have individual complaints relating to specific incidents for which they are seeking answers, this isn't the forum for that. However, we are happy to offer advice in relation to such complaints, email amanda.jacks@fsf.org.uk.

Previous evenings were held in London, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Manchester. They proved to be lively, successful events which gave supporters the chance debate issues around match day policing and stewarding with a panel of experts.

Questions raised at previous events include:

  • Are football fans discriminated against?
  • Is it in the public interest to prosecute fans for offences like drinking in view of the pitch?
  • Can stewards sometimes provoke more trouble than they prevent?
  • Is match day police/camera surveillance OTT?
  • Are Football Banning Orders used appropriately?
  • Are games over or under policed?
  • Is it time to abolish football-specific legislation?
  • What information can clubs and the police share about me?

Panellist biogs:

Dave Lewis is Head of Security and Stadium Safety at Everton. Dave is responsible for monitoring fan behaviour at both home and away games, and works closely with Merseyside Police in respect of those arrested and/or ejected from stadiums.

Dr Joel Rookwood is a Senior Lecturer at Hope University. Joel's a Liverpool supporter and his research interests include British fan culture, spectator violence and the legal response, and issues relating to sport, race and identity. Joel's also a member of the 92 club.

Supt Chris Markey is responsible for ensuring that the policing tactics deployed are appropriate and coordinated with the club's matchday operation. Chris has more than 20 years experience policing football at different levels.

Amanda Jacks is the FSF's Caseworker. Amanda helps and advises fans who have cause to complain about policing and stewarding, and assists those who may require legal assistance for criminal or civil matters.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Ten year old James died following a bus accident. The young blue, who had described his recent tour of Goodison, before the last home match against Hull, as the best day of his life, was given an Evertonian’s funeral at Garston Bridge Chapel. Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman represented the club as James’ coffin, draped in an Everton flag, was carried into the chapel, by pall bearers in Everton shirts, to the Z Cars theme.

During the service a letter from Everton manager, Roberto Martinez, was read by Everton club chaplain, Reverend Henry Corbett as well as tributes from James teachers at Whiston Willis primary school where James was head boy.

James’ friends and family have ensured that out of this tragedy there will at least come some good as they have set-up a just giving page to raise money for the Wirral Autistic Society. You can donate by visiting justgiving.com/Helen-greenop.
Thursday, October 24, 2013

KEIOC has received an incredible response to our recent article on the online secondary ticket market or if you prefer, in plain English, ticket touting.

A tout obtains a ticket at one price then sells at a higher price, pocketing the difference, and running the risk of being arrested, whilst an approved company in the secondary ticket market promotes the sale of a ticket at any price and pockets a substantial commission from buyer and seller, so what's the difference and who's the loser in all of this? Ultimately there is no difference and it's the ordinary fan, the fan the clubs and the Premier League are purporting to help by cutting the cost of watching football but who's being priced out of the game once again; at least Dick Turpin had the courtesy to wear a mask.  If it looks, walks and quacks like a duck it’s a duck, no need for convoluted descriptions such as “our partners in the secondary ticketing market” it’s legalised touting, plain and simple.

It’s legal due to a technicality in the law that concerns the resale of football tickets. Section 166 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act states that it is an offence for an unauthorised person to sell a ticket for a designated football match or otherwise to dispose of such a ticket to another person for which you may be liable to a fine of up to £5,000 and have a football banning order imposed. Unauthorised being the key word as by entering into an agreement, thereby becoming an authorised partner, this law is circumvented.

Some fans will see nothing wrong with this form of touting, they’ll claim that it’s perfectly legal, as is tax avoidance, and as long as it’s legal and Everton are earning money what could possibly be wrong? They see nothing wrong in something being morally wrong as long as it’s legal. So advertising cigarettes at sports events was acceptable when it was legal but became unacceptable when it became illegal? Racism was perfectly acceptable when it wasn’t illegal as was throwing kids up chimneys, the good old days, let’s get back to them as quick as possible. Touting is wrong no matter what you prefer to call it. legal or illegal.

Everton’s three year commercial deal with StubHub, with income estimates ranging from £1.6m a season to the same over the term of the contract, is claimed to be the largest commercial deal, excluding shirt sponsorship and retail, in the club’s history which, to be fair, isn’t exactly a difficult target to beat when you consider that Everton managed to sign away their kit supply deal for nothing whilst Liverpool earn £25m a season, Spurs £10m, Arsenal 13m, in fact everyone beats Everton’s square root of nothing kit supply deal through Kitbag which apparently is a great deal too!

The real problem is more long term, ask yourself why the two largest players in the legal touting business, StubHub and Viagogo have already struck deals with 40% of the premiership? StubHub being Everton’s second Secondary Touting Partner, as Viagogo, being the first, under Keith Wyness, disappeared faster than an "interested party" in our chairman's fervid imagination.

The 40% of the league who have authorised partners include Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Spurs. Where is this going to end? Outsourcing of all ticketing? An official Premier League endorsed partnership? Modern print at home technology means far more flexability but is this technology about to be exploited by the legalised touts and is this good for the fans and the best deal for the clubs?

You’d be surprised what a little research brings up, it's not always good for the clubs either. The American MLB season can see 81 home games with the less attractive games available on Stubhub at prices undercutting the host club whilst the more attractive fixtures costs their fans an arm and a leg. Some clubs aren't embracing the official league partnership with StubHub and the situation is far more complex than the simplistic and superficial perception on the availability of apparently cheap tickets with more astute observers beginning to understand exactly what is going on here.

Wouldn't it be better for the fans and the clubs to set their prices at an affordable level and remove the parasite causing all the problems from the equation?

To claim that it is the fans that set the price, and nothing whatsoever to do with the club or the tout, is as embarrassing as watching them run for cover in the face of criticism or actually naively believing that the free market will regulate prices.

You may be interested in watching the activities of one of the aforementioned “authorised partners” in this excellent video and thanks for the overwhelming responses to our article, rest assured, we'll be fighting for the ordinary supporter on this one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Everton, along with all premiership clubs, has at least started to look at the totally unrealistic cost of watching football today. As previously stated, in an earlier article, and perhaps more due to falling attendances which would eventually, unchecked, have a detrimental effect on their ability to sell our product to the watching world for billions of pounds, the Premier League prompted the establishment of the £12m away fans fund.

Some clubs have been a little more innovative in their thinking, Aston Villa are the latest club to join Newcastle, West Brom, Hull City and Swansea in making a real difference to the prices paid by away fans; so it’s a start, not the conclusion of the supporters “Twenty’s Plenty” campaign.

Attending a game where there’s a full house and a great atmosphere, at the right price, is clearly where we all want to be, it’s the symbiotic relationship between fan, club and organising body that we all desire and benefit from. What we don’t need are parasites feeding off this relationship in the form of secondary ticket agencies which of course will come into their own if games increasingly sell out.

Let’s be quite clear, these businesses are little more than legalised touts which the clubs are embracing through monetary deals rather than an understanding of the English football fan psyche which finds touting abhorrent and has long since had their own methods of utilising unwanted tickets.

For the November derby game ticket prices of up to £575 can be found on the site of Everton’s official partner StubHub whose activities are being defended by the club’s director of communications who, via twitter, claims,

“For those asking: StubHub offers ST holders a facility to sell their seat for games they can’t attend, it is the season ticket holder’s prerogative to list their seats at whatever price they choose, ultimately though, it is up to the potential purchaser to determine if they are prepared to pay it.”

That disheartening response is little more than a ticket tout’s argument. Let’s see if the same defence stands up for somebody arrested caught selling the same ticket for the same price outside the ground before that game; it won’t, guilty and a football banning order awaits them, but apparently if you’re an “Official Partner” of the club it’s acceptable so that's okay then.

What next? The official cocaine and heroin partner? Why not? After all, you don’t have to worry about the morals or the legalities because ultimately it's simply "up to the potential purchaser to determine if they are prepared to pay it"

Like all theories of the self-regulated free market economy the only thing that’s ultimate is that ultimately it’s a charter for those with their noses in the trough to exploit those who hand over their hard earned cash. Look at the power suppliers being regulated through supply and demand, look at the transport companies and with full houses it doesn't take a genius to work out that the “official ticketing partners” are waiting patiently like a praying mantis.

Spurs fans are already seizing the initiative through an online petition, do not let all the hard work by fans, organisations such as the Football Supporters Federation and those clubs who, in place of the traditional act of paying lip service to their fan solutions, have embraced the philosophy of the Twenty’s Plenty campaign over ticketing prices.

Don't sit on the fence over this one, don't abdicate your responsibility as a matchgoing fan, leaving temptation in front of others, as in the long run we’ll all suffer. You know it makes sense, lovely jubbly.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Newcastle have secured agreements on their innovative reciprocal ticketing proposal with Swansea and West Brom. The scheme will see away supporters of all three clubs paying more affordable prices for tickets at their 2013/14 fixtures. Newcastle fans attending both away games at Swansea and West Bromwich, will benefit from a saving of £44 on these alone, with ticket prices at Swansea previously set at £35 now costing £20 whilst the £39 ticket for last season’s game at West Brom will now cost just £15. Swansea and West Brom fans will be charged the same amounts for their visits to St James Park under the reciprocal agreement.

The Premier League recently launched the Away Fans Fund to reverse falling away attendances, with all 20 top flight clubs now ring-fencing £200,000 each per season over the next three seasons to assist away supporters.

John Irving, Finance Director at Newcastle United, said: “Ticket prices are too expensive generally across the Premier League and we believe the right way to encourage people to attend, and to therefore fill stadiums as the Away Fans Fund intends, is to look at charging reasonable prices.”

Newcastle’s innovative management team also lobbied the Premier League for the abolition of the prohibitive “sale only/sale or return” method of selling away tickets, which the Premier League duly ended in summer 2013 as part of efforts to halt a decline in away attendances.

Everton have proposed a raft of familiar measures surrounding enhancing the experience of all fans attending Goodison but specifically, for Everton’s own away support, £5 ticket reductions at the four away games over the festive period in addition to offering all junior Evertonians travelling to Stoke on New Year’s Day the opportunity to purchase their ticket for just £1. It is not known how many junior Evertonians usually travel to Stoke or if Stoke City has agreed to provide extra tickets for what one would expect to be a sell-out fixture for Everton’s legendary and sizeable travelling support.

John Irving continued, “While we respect the right of clubs to choose options which suit their individual circumstances, we believe there is room for clubs to work more closely to try to charge a fair amount rather than discounting very small amounts on match tickets in isolation. We are delighted to have reached an agreement with two of the first clubs we spoke to, West Bromwich Albion and Swansea City, and we applaud them for taking part. As prices indicated last season, fans of some clubs continue to pay far more than those of others and we hope this initiative will lead to a fairer system which can ultimately benefit all supporters.”

By contrast, in the face of some criticism to what so far appears to be Everton’s somewhat meagre proposals, CEO Robert Elstone said, “Just to be doubly clear on the Premier League’s instructions, they asked us to commit at least £200,000 of existing money, at our discretion, to ideas, activities and events that would fill visitor's sections. It was left to us and it was our money. “I’ve just been in a meeting talking about being a fan-led club. It’s undoubtedly our aspiration, and our away fan's initiative underlines our commitment to making sure our actions speak louder than words.”

Indeed, actions are ultimately what you are measured on but great news, we’ll be looking out for those actions and we’ll be looking forward to a democratically elected fan’s forum who will make proposals rather than listen to them.

In the meantime, for those still confused as to why the "away fans fund" was suggested by the Premier League, here's a short explanatory film from the New York Times, as action speaks louder than our words - obviously!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

BOSS Night and STAND AMF Fanzine team up to bring you "STAND: Ale Music Football"; A day and night of football talk, music and drink on Saturday 6th July in Liverpool.

Taking place in The Black-E in Liverpool city centre "Ale, Music, Football" will kick off with a panel based discussion aiming to answer the question "What can we, as football supporters, do next to take back our game?".

The panel discussing modern football includes:

Everton's Blue Union, Amanda Jacks (Football Supporters Federation), Andy Walsh (FC United), Brian Reade (Daily Mirror), David Preece (Professional Footballer), Gary Hart (Parliamentary Outreach Officer), James Brown (sabotagetimes.com), James McKenna (Spirit of Shankly Liverpool Supporters Union), Kevin Rye (Supporters Direct), Marc Jones (AFC Wimbledon), Marc Quambasch (Kein Zwanni/Borussia Dortmund), Mark Howell (Chester FC), Nick Miller (football365.com), Tom Hocking (When Saturday Comes), Tony Evans (The Times)

This will be followed by live music from Mercury 13 and later an OFFICIAL HAPPY MONDAYS DJ SET from BEZ (The Happy Mondays) and VINCE VEGA (Happy Mondays Tour DJ) as well as music from The Beat Boutique DJ's.

This is an event for supporters of all clubs to come together for the future of our game. It's been taken from us. Let’s take it back!

Time to leave any rivalries at the door, have a good time and make a STAND!

Tickets can be purchased online right up until 2pm Saturday. There is an option to collect on the day or you can select postage up until 4pm Thursday.

Doors 2pm. First debate 3pm and will run until 11pm.

The Black-E is in Chinatown, only a few minutes from Lime Street Station.

Black-E, 1 Great George St, Liverpool, L1 5EW

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Following a predictable, tedious and at times straw clutching presentation from Robert Elstone, during which he attempted to paper over the board’s massive inadequacies, the show of hands vote, to allow the motion to reinstate annual general meetings, produced an almost unanimous verdict in favour. Evertonians everywhere should applaud the hard work and sacrifice put in by the committee of the SA.

Chairman Bill Kenwright predictably brought shame on the club by disgracefully trivialising the heinous crime of rape, but of course some will excuse him because he’s a blue. Absolutely abhorrent and not fit to be chairman, but at least the shareholders know how to conduct themselves in public.

Well done to those who were allowed to witness the shenanigans.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Everton Football Club’s first general meeting for five years is taking place tomorrow against the backdrop of losing our manager, our captain, several players, our badge, our motto and last, but not least, yet another director of communications; symptoms rather than the cause of this extraordinary meeting, a meeting called to question the performance of the board at a club where the smell of revolt during its 135 year existence is never far away.

We all know Everton are known as the people’s club, but in an age of hollow sound bites and flaky meaningless straplines, we’re far from the people’s club in name only. Steeped in history and with a healthy record of dissent and activism that really is in our DNA, almost 30% of the club is owned by fans so committed that they’ve bought shares in a club which our seventy five year old Shareholders Association has forced this EGM due to their own increasing concerns over the direction their club is taking.

It’s thirteen years since Bill Kenwright’s consortium took over the reins from former chairman Peter Johnson in which time the club’s balance sheet has gone from plus £20m to minus £44m due to what fans see as a total lack of investment, selling assets and increasing debt along with a failure to deliver numerous infrastructure projects, an apparent inability to solve our stadium issue, zero success in identifying a much needed new owner and, most painful of all, no trophies in a period of time when those across the park have won eleven with teams which at times haven’t been fit to lace our boots.

The people of the people’s club are hoping for more than we received in 2008, when, after calling yet another EGM, our concerns were ignored over the alleged £52m stadium subsidy from Tesco which, only a few months later, despite assurances from our board during that EGM, a government inquiry established that not a single penny was being provided by Tesco nor anybody else. A lesson for the egotistical millionaires, given by ordinary fans, which perhaps they’re unable to accept and unwilling to forgive.

Lack of investment isn’t news for Evertonians, none of our directors have invested a single penny to improve the club’s situation, yet it was claimed, by a mystery Everton official, Paul Tyrrell, on a recent TalkSport show that the club is for sale for £125m; an astonishing return for the £22m they paid in 1999 and a remarkable demand considering what they’ve achieved and the state they're leaving the business in.

Let’s hope Evertonians receive better assurances from the board regarding their concerns over the involvement of Sir Philip Green, investment and the future direction of one of England’s great football clubs; let’s also hope they have more substance than the answers they received in 2008.

For a more in-depth read on what’s happened and what's happening to Everton fans prepared to speak out against the disgraceful behaviour of some, click here.

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