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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Are Everton Badly Advised?

Now the public inquiry has finished many supporters are under the impression that our campaign has concluded; this isn't the case. KEIOC are working as hard as ever to ensure the biggest gamble in the history of Everton Football Club is exposed for what it is – an ill thought out plan of little benefit to the long-term prosperity of the club and its loyal supporters.

The need for change is obvious; Everton need improved facilities for their supporters and corporate guests. KEIOC completely endorse Robert Elstone's stance that the club needs to be facility led but clearly we're at a loss to understand how the proposed stadium in Kirkby will enable Everton to once again compete at the very top of English football. A cursory glance at the competing clubs of Everton's stature reveals that they've either built or intend to build £200 - £300M stadia whilst Everton are expecting a £90M stadium, in a location with insurmountable transport infrastructure problems, restrictions on non-football related activities and one that will be used as a free or subsidized civic amenity, will take Everton to the next level in the premiership. It's comparable to expecting Everton to win the champions league with a team of blue square ability players; it simply isn't going to happen.

Who are the people advising Everton that this scheme makes sound economic sense for the future prosperity of the club? Who exactly is telling them that average gates of 47,000 are achievable and in doing so would generate an additional £6M when evidence indicating attendance levels in the region of 38,000 delivering little or no additional matchday revenue is readily available? Are they the same people that advised them that this Tesco led scheme wouldn't be called in? Are they the same people who advised Everton that a spade would be in the ground many times throughout 2008? Are they the same people who advised Everton that the loop site would only hold a 35,000 seat capacity stadium? Are they the same people who've told them that Liverpool City Council wouldn't work with them to ensure they remain in the city when it's actually council policy to do so? Are they the same people who advised them to apply to build an unacceptable number of houses on the Bellefield site and then went on to advise them to lodge an appeal with the Government, which was refused? Who are the people that advised Everton that the call in process would be fast tracked with a decision in spring 2009 when it was clear a decision in autumn would be the earliest?

Unlike paid advisors, and those with a vested interest, KEIOC are unpaid and have only the future well being of the club in mind when they raise their concerns. KEIOC warned Everton in early 2007 that the Kirkby scheme represented such a major departure from planning guidelines that it was likely to be called in, it was. KEIOC told Everton that the site in Scotland Rd could house a 55,000-seat stadium, it can. KEIOC are aware of the number of houses that would be allowed on the Bellefield site, apparently their advisors are not. KEIOC advised that the Kirkby planning application wouldn't be fast tracked through the inquiry system, Everton believed a decision would be made by spring, the decision won't be made until autumn and in the event of planning permission being given KEIOC are aware that due to environmental issues no construction will commence this year and legal challenges against the CPO's on land now subject to planning conditions will ensure delays of several years meaning that this project is of even less use to Everton now than it was when KEIOC's campaign began in the spring of 2007.

In the meantime Everton are attempting to capture the hearts and minds of supporters by holding question and answer sessions with various local supporters clubs. A club employee has told KEIOC that Robert Elstone is being inundated with questions on Kirkby, the only subject people want to talk about. At a recent venue in Fazakerley Graeme Sharpe looked on bemused as he wasn't asked a single question. The known 40% of opposition is likely to be nearer 80% now that the facts have emerged surrounding the ground move. Ten out of ten for the tenacity shown by Mr. Elstone but isn't it time to admit defeat, run the advisors out of town and work with the fans on what will enable Everton to compete with the premierships top clubs?

At one time KEIOC's mailbox was mainly filled with emails from supporters from the Merseyside region, now opposition knows no geographical bounds, we'd like to share with you an email from a true blue who has the courage and common sense to know that he was wrong, thanks Phil, we appreciate your honesty:

"Dear Keioc,

I am e-mailing you to say sorry for voting, as an Evertonian, in favour of the move to Kirkby. I'm now totally convinced that the move should not take place. After listening to Dave Kelly on the Radio Merseyside sport discussion with Robert Elstone I couldn't believe how naive Robert Elstone was. I now believe most of us who voted were misled when we were sold the idea. I couldn't believe it when Robert Elstone held up the Emirates stadium as an example of how the money would roll in. It was clearly misplaced as Arsenal are now looking at a shortfall of £130 million on the Highbury Square development due to falling property prices; in all likelihood this will have a major impact on their club, especially if they do not qualify for the champions league.

The world has changed recently and finding the £78 million, as quoted by Robert Elstone, will be extremely difficult.

I'm based in Swansea and among my blue mates (there are seven of us and we all attend games) we have to say that to hear all those Irish and Scandinavian fans chanting “the city's all ours” has really got to us. We all know that we need a better stadium, but in the current climate the best bet is to stay put and look in the city for a site for the future. The next two years will see a massive change in the way football club's are both run and financed and those well supported and well run clubs will rise again.

Once again, very sorry, coyb


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