mackblue: Hi how do you find this job compared to previous jobs
RobertElstone: I've been fortunate enough to work in the sport sector for 12 years now and have had some great jobs, but this is the best - for one single reason. The opportunity to work right at the coal face, in the thick of the action, experiencing the highs and lows of Saturday afternoons is something really special.
bloobhoy: Robert - can you tell us what the position is on a city centre Everton store?
RobertElstone: We have recognised a gap in our city centre retailing but have been unable to plug that gap because of our relationship with JJB, who don't believe they could make a commercial return on city centre retail premises. We disagree with them and I'm please to say as part of a new arrangement, we are getting closer to fixing that problem. At this stage we can't guarantee it, but a) we know it is something we have to fix and our new partners can see the value of Everton Football Club in a prominent city centre location
Louis: Why did you decide to highlight Goodison Park's shortcomings on a video to the local media? Surely this is counterproductive when tickets were not selling well?
RobertElstone: For reasons we have outlined on many occasions, the Club is committed to the Kirkby project. One of the key things we needed to do was explain to the inspector why we needed to move, and the deficiencies of Goodison were a key factor. I agree highlighting these deficiencies comes at a price if we are trying to bring new people to our stadium. However, the medium term benefit of securing a 50,000 seater new stadium capable of lifting the Club to higher levels is one we had to give our best shot to delivering.
caseball: Robert is it correct that our umbro and JJB deal comes to an end on 31st May 2009
RobertElstone: You are correct. JJB and Umbro expires in just over three months' time. Expect some exciting news in the near future.
Louis: SKY Sports News today stated that Everton will be offering prize freezes from next season, can you confirm this? Can Everton match Sunderland's ticket price offer for under 16s?
RobertElstone: Sky Sports News jumped the gun on our pricing for 2009/10. They have got it wrong, and an announcement will be made through Club channels in the near future. Sky did subsequently change their report after contact from the Club. As for junior prices, the Club already offers some great deals for under 16s - we also do lots of work in and around local schools at great value prices, but for 2009/10 we believe we are going to have to do more for our young fans. This is something, again, that we will announce in the next few weeks.
Louis: Will players have to be sold to fund the plan to relocate to Kirkby?
RobertElstone: Absolutely not. The opposite is true - Kirkby is all about growing our transfer budget.
Louis: Is there a plan B if the Secretary of State decides to reject Destination Kirkby?
RobertElstone: There is a Plan B. Unfortunately, in my view, it is not particularly attractive. I am more convinced than ever that major redevelopment of Goodison is unaffordable, equally I am certain there are no other viable sites within the City boundary or indeed elsewhere. Plan B would be to re-evaluate what we have at Goodison and make largely cosmetic changes for very marginal gains. Over a period of time, our competitive position will erode.
ruby: Are there any plans to help Season Ticket Holders next season like Sunderland
RobertElstone: As I said earlier, prices will be announced shortly. But we have also looked at payment options. Like last year, the Everton credit card will offer a great deal and will help fans spread payments. For those fans who either don't want or can't get a credit card, we are close to being able to offer credit terms at, we believe, a very good rate of interest. Details will be announced shortly.
stoko1980efc: I believe the current Goodison Park site has a larger footprint than ST James's Park is there no option of flattening the old lady and rebuild? and dare I say play at our old ground (anfield) for a couple of seasons?
RobertElstone: This issue was discussed in some detail at the EGM. The existing footprint is very small and an unusual shape. An expanded footprint would mean demolishing the school, two streets and the garage. In our view, this would be time consuming, risky and expensive. Were we successful, then the cost to build on that site would be prohibitive and unfundable.
caseball: on the 50,000 seater stadium we only have to look at arsenal they have gone from 38000 capacity to 60k and they fill it, more people will come to watch us play in a new modern stadium along with extra revenue from corporates
RobertElstone: It's a proven fact that clubs moving to new stadia enjoy a significant uplift in attendances. I believe Everton will experience the same, I also believe we are capable and qualified to ensure that uplift remains permanent. A few people have pointed to clubs who have allegedly suffered after building a new stadium. I'm not sure there are too many of these and I am also of the opinion that Bolton Wanderers, Wigan Athletic, Sunderland, Manchester City and perhaps one or two others, wouldn't be playing in the Premier League had they not been able to build new stadia. It's no coincidence to me that the clubs at the top end of the Premier League have large, modern stadia.
caseball: we dont offer great deals for children on corporate at the moment? would this be looked at next season??
RobertElstone: We have offered junior prices on corporate hospitality in the past, but have never seen much demand for a junior offer. It is something we are looking at right now for the 2009/10 season.
TheYak22: According to another well respected Everton website the proposed new stadium in Kirby wouldn't have 50,000 seats it would have 40,000, which is the same as Goodison, is this true?
RobertElstone: Absolutely not. Kirkby is 50,000 seats with an option to go to 60,000.
bozzy23: Do you feel Season Ticket Holders get enough rewards for their loyal support?
RobertElstone: We acknowledge season ticket holders are our most loyal fans and accordingly seek to offer the best possible prices and benefits to reward this loyalty. Season ticket holders consistently enjoy better pricing on cup games, and they are always prioritised on away allocations and European trips. For 2009/10, we had a meeting yesterday to discuss broadening the range of benefits, and again, I am looking forward to offering an improved deal for our season ticket holders next season.
perko20: why should such a big club like everton fc move out of this city when we were the first team to enter merseyside robert ??
RobertElstone: In my view, we have a clear choice. We sit and wait and see if a 'better' site becomes available - something we have been doing for the past 10-plus years. In fact, we haven't been waiting, we have been working hard to identify such sites, and they haven't materialised. It's getting harder and harder to compete with the billionaires or the clubs with big stadia out of Goodison, and accordingly, the second option is to take control of our own destiny and move to a modern stadium capable of being funded, within the Liverpool city region, which is capable of taking us to the next level. Kirkby is a fantastic opportunity for this football club.
Sandoooo: Robert, does the Club have an alternative plan for Bellefield?
RobertElstone: We were incredibly disappointed with the Bellefield decision. In our opinion, a politically motivated decision which has cost the Club millions of pounds. We are currently sitting down with our advisors to consider alternative uses, which may pass planning and can deliver value. The actions of Liverpool City Council have hit the Club hard, but as we always do, we take it on the chin and move on.
Cooper: What is your opinion on KEIOC's videos and mock up's of a proposed stadium at Scotland Road, or the proposed redevelopment of Goodison Park?
RobertElstone: The KEIOC video looks like it has been briefed-in based on 'build me the stadium of my dreams' with money no object, in a location without reference to size or planning regulation. It is a fantasy. As for the loop, it is equally fanciful. Liverpool Football Club rejected it in their stadium search, KEIOC have admitted that it is a hugely ambitious scheme, the viability study which gives it alleged credibility was written in 48 hours and, of course, the common thread through all of this, there is no reference to cost or affordability. The Club doesn't have the luxury of being unaccountable and unsubstantiated in its views on stadium opportunities.
caseball: When i went to anfield for the FA cup game i was pleased that we opened our carpark up parking, is this done every time Liverpool are at home?
RobertElstone: We make quite a bit of money from that lot over the Park when we open up our car parks to them for their home games. I'm looking forward to increasing the prices next year!
Timak: Do you think a 1.5 hour wait for a train and bus is acceptable for fans?
RobertElstone: Reading through some of your questions, there are so many myths about Kirkby, and this is another great example. Maybe it's time for the Club to reiterate the benefits of Kirkby and the realities of Kirkby in more detail. Specifically on transport, the Club has the ultimate vested interest in delivering an effective transport plan. Get it wrong and we will feel the pain - and we won't get it wrong. We have started a consultation process with the fans through our Transport Working Group and we will ensure that Kirkby works within acceptable parameters for all our fans, from a transport perspective.
vernefc: You claim your looking for investment/sale of the club 24/7 yet,what are you doing to find this investment??
RobertElstone: Repeating what the chairman has consistently said, the Club is actively looking for investment and is up for sale to the right buyer, with the right intentions. Events over the last three or four months, the economic downturn and the meltdown of financial markets, is undoubtedly going to make this harder, but the commitment to moving the Club forward via new investment remains strong.
kevwynn: Where is the money coming from for our contribution to the stadium. As far as I can see the banks wont lend it and we havent got it. Even with naming rights it will be a stretch, please tell us how you can do it??
RobertElstone: As I said in my last answer about generating inestment, you are right, the current market will make it harder than we expected to raise finance. However, we have a mix of financing options, including stadium naming rights, and we remain optimistic on that particular project of securing a substantial contribution to our overall funding requirement. We are looking all the time at different options, and remain confident that we will be successful. The downturn is also likely to benefit us by way of cheaper construction costs and keener pricing from all our suppliers. Of course, this will reduce our funding challenge.
Marc_efc: hi rob, first of all thanks for coming to our supporters club in southport, i was wondering how much do we make on the gate compared to other clubs, and the same with merchendise, how much do we make from merchendise compared to other clubs?
RobertElstone: As we reported at the EGM, we earned just short of £1m every match day. To put that into context, Arsenal earn three times that figure. Over the course of the season, that is almost £40m. Over the last five years, our cumulative income has totalled around £250m, again, for reference, Newcastle United are around £440m, and much of this is down to 12,500 extra seats and arguably 52,000 higher quality seats. On merchandise, we generate around £25,000 per game and obviously matchdays are our big shopping days. But anyone who has been in the shop at 2pm on a Saturday afternoon couldn't fail to appreciate how much money we leave on the table as a result of the cramped facilities and poor layout. A new stadium, of course, will address all these points.
gazefc1: Rob do you own a Everton Top and if so which one do you have?
RobertElstone: I do - it is Mikel. And it's Mikel every week for me. Every time he gets the ball, it is edge of the seat and an expectation of something special. Players like Mikel are what the game is all about. I do have a soft spot for our Aussie international, having lived in Sydney for two years, there's something about the Aussie spirit which we have, grudgingly to, admire.
RobertElstone: I'm afraid I must finish up now. Thanks very much for all your questions and apologies if yours wasn't answered. See you on Sunday.
That Louis gets about..