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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ye Hole in Ye Wall

Whilst apathy over the off field activities is understandably widespread amongst the fanbase, it’s refreshing to see that the appetite for information, from the matchgoing Evertonian at least, remains healthy and unabated.

On Saturday, at The Hawthorns, supporters recognised as being associated with KEIOC were repeatedly questioned on the park end development, the new car park and Croxteth, in fact following our last article our inbox has been inundated with more emails than we’ve had for a long time on these subjects.

In common with all fans we’re as much in the dark as you; the information we’re received, from two subcontractors, involved in Everton Place, is that they’ve been told they’re no longer required. Our club source informed us, earlier this year, of the “mess” surrounding  previous lenders charges, on the Goodison Park land, that are currently preventing work beginning, and also of the three month target for the submission of a proposal surrounding Croxteth. The sudden withdrawal of the application for the proposed new car park off Spellow Lane, withdrawn on the 15th April, can be seen here.

You can see the problem many have with the treatment of, and hollow gestures towards, the fans; contempt shown by issuing misleading press statements, stage managed fan forums and fan councils. The clear problem is that the questions that matter either aren’t being asked or those answers being given aren’t being challenged. Any right minded Evertonian would have been embarrassed by the comments of the fan councils representative speaking on the Alan Jackson show after last months fan forum; the claim that the body was elected, it isn’t, it’s selected by the club, and that minutes of the meeting are to be found on the club website, they’re not as the members were sworn to secrecy when discussing vitally important issues such as the playing of z cars at half time whilst the elephant just outside the room, the inactivity on the two construction sites, was ignored completely.

In another example, whilst the CEO at least comes near to offering a more sensible explanation, the devil, as always, is in the detail. For those not selected to attend last months exclusive gathering here’s a verbatim transcript of what the CEO said in relation to the new Everton Place development:

“An unforeseen set of circumstances were as a result of some security, land security issues; we have been in a two month holding pattern where two of our primary lenders are arguing about some security issues on the land from which the development will sit, we hope we have reached a breakthrough on that, we are talking day in and day out to break that, and once we break that we will start work straight away on that, I am absolutely convinced that the new development will go ahead and we are working day in day out to make sure it happens.”

The problems KEIOC has with this statement are first of all the delay isn’t just two months, it’s now six months and counting, which leads one to question the ability of anyone to overcome the land security issues mentioned and secondly there was no mention of the replacement car park application being withdrawn some three days earlier; but admittedly it's a marked improvement on "problems relocating IT equipment and moving offices, that this was the plan all along and all partners are happy"

Stonebridge CrossAre we being hard on the club by highlighting these matters? Perhaps.

Are we being fair? Absolutely.

Last season Everton fans contributed over £23m towards the clubs total turnover, some 29% of the total income, through tickets, catering and merchandise sales, and will do so year after year, season after season. The combined personal investment by the board, the one off payment when purchasing their shareholdings, money that never went into the club, was significantly less; yet these individuals are the ones running the club, and they run it in a manner that offers little to its core business activity, operating as a competitive premiership football club; yet, when the club is sold, they expect to obtain vast profits on these personal investments. Is it right that they know what is going on when those that contribute most don’t?

The questions from fans, contacting us, can be compounded as follows:

  • Has the problem with the park end been overcome yet and if not why not and if so what is the start date for construction?
  • Why has the application for the new car park been withdrawn?
  • Who advised the club on these matters prior to problems being identified?
  • If no solution to the “land security” issue can be found are the club considering interchanging the building with the proposed car park?
  • After the lessons learnt over Kirkby, relating to location and objections from neighbouring authorities, is Everton seriously considering a proposal for Stonebridge Cross?

Evertonians understand it's difficult running a football club with no money, Evertonians understand that plans don't always run smoothly and, most importantly of all, Evertonians understand how vital it is we secure new income streams as quickly as possible. What the fans don't understand, after all the mistakes made over the Kings Dock and Destination Kirkby, is why are the fans, that contribute so much, treated with so little respect?

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