Posted 05 Dec 2007 - 11:21
Stolen from another forum:
Overall - same old same old really, however I was quite surprised to hear how vocal the opposition to Kirkby was - it was - at times - incredibly loud (as that report below suggests) and made those at the top table (most notably Robert Earl) look VERY uncomfortable indeed - I honestly don't think they were expecting that.
Kirkby was obviously THE main topic for discussion, but the first salient point raised (as posted by The Dome below) was about the official recording of what goes on at these meetings.
For the 3rd year in a row, when they asked for AOB, Frank asked that all the Q & A to follow be officially recorded in the minutes and reported. He - quite reasonably - contended that the Q & A WAS the meeting really, as that was where the board was answerable to its shareholders and THAT'S the stuff that should be reported. His comments received a LOT of vocal support from the floor, were noted by the chairman.......and then basically ignored, and the meeting was closed, THEN the Q & A started !!! Absolutely scandalous and ridiculous and something MUST be done about it next year - the proper legal process for getting EVERYTHING minuted needs to be followed somehow.
The majority of the points were directed at Bill Kenwright rather than Keith Wyness, which some felt was a real shame, given Keith's rencent penchant for putting his foot in it. He fielded very few of the questions tonight and when he did (very early on) he again re-iterated that - as far as he was concerned there WAS NO PLAN B. If Kirkby all falls through then we "come back to Goodison and start all over again" - he also said that this would be absolutely catastrophic for the club (paraphrased from memory).
However, as the meeting progressed I think the board were surprised at the depth of feeling over Kirkby and there were LOTS of arguments back and forth about the validity of the Loop site and the redevelopment of Goodison - and I think there will be lots of phone calls being made tomorrow to verify some of the claims made by the board and their representatives !
As mentioned below - a chap called Chris Potts was wheeled out to tell us how Kirkby was the only viable option, and that the Loop site and redevelopment of Goodison were both impossible. Of course - he wasn't able to tell us any actual NUMBERS but "Kirkby would be cheaper" was the general gist, even without any evidence to back it up ! He also mentioned phone calls and emails to some of the people behind the alternatives not being returned. Both he and Bill Kenwright also claimed to have spoken to the author of the HOK report (the report that says the Loop IS feasible) and he had now told them that it WASN'T feasible !!
As I say - there will be lots of phone calls tomorrow to verify some of these claims !
Anyway, in short, the 2 main points to take from tonight :-
1) In the face of lots of criticism that we NEED a Plan B and a Plan C (given Wyness's claim that this HAS to happen by 2010, the likelihood that it WILL be called in and therefore that won't happen, and his admittance again tonight that we "can't guarantee it will go through") Bill Kenwright later contradicted Wyness's "No Plan B" statement and said that they WILL reconsider and carry out feasibility studies on ALL the options again, including the redevelopment of Goodison and The Loop. (However this was NOT minuted - for reasons mentioned earlier - so whether he can be held to this or not I don't know !)
2) There was not ONE single shareholder that spoke out in favour of Kirkby. The closest it got to that were comments from 2 people. The first person said that "these other sites were probably all TECHNICALLY feasible, but if we haven't got the money, then we haven't got the money" (fair comment but no comment on Kirkby and certainly not a ringing endorsement for it) and the second was from the, quite frankly, laughable Richard Lewis from the sham "Shareholders 2005/2006/2007" Group (or whatever they are calling themselves nowadays). Not only did he make his comment when the chairman had called for the end-of-year report from the official Shareholders Association (Mr Lewis' rabble are no such thing if you remember - they are the rejects from the real thing who went off sulking and made their own group). Having rudely interrupted, Mr Lewis then demonstrated just how "in touch" with the fans he is by managing to get as far as "What people need to remember is that it doesn't matter WHERE the stadium IS - it's the PEOPLE within it that make it our home......" - the rest of the sentence was drowned out by virtually the whole room booing, heckling and laughing at his ridculous comment. Finger on the pulse indeed !
That was as "pro-Kirkby" as ANY comments from the floor got on the night, and I would bet everything I own that if they had called for a for/against Kirkby ballot TONIGHT there would have been an absolute landslide AGAINST it.
Honorary mentions on the night must go to :-
- Colin Fitz who asked some excellent questions and argued passionately and in an informed manner against some of the responses - most notably those from Chris Potts
- The BRILLIANT Trevor Skempton who spoke passionately about the alternative proposals
- Anne Asquith who spoke very eloquently on behalf of the SA, making a special note of how the ballot/Kirkby debate has caused huge rifts in the fanbase
- Frank for....well just being Frank really ! (Kenwright must hate seeing his hand go up !)
And all those other dissenting voices who spoke up and asked hard-hitting and pertinent questions - it was great to meet up and chat with some of you afterwards, and you made me proud to be an Evertonian, even if our efforts turn out to be ultimately futile.
At least we can look in the mirror and tried our best to live up to the motto.
Not everyone else can.
Robert Earl's body language was very telling throughout...I watched him closely to try to gauge where he stands on things.
He seemed like he REALLY didn't want to be there at first, but - to give the guy his due - whenever he was called upon to speak, he actually spoke very well and seemed very committed to the cause - something that kind of surprised me but then - being cynical (as ever !) he wouldn't have been wheeled out if they couldn't rely on him to at least say that much.
There was another farcical moment when - in the early part of the meeting, Kenwright asked for a Proposer and a Seconder for Robert Earl's election onto the board (and there was some discussion afterwards as to whether he actually GOT those !) and it was then to go to a show of hands from shareholders as to whether they would OK this or not.
One shareholder stood up and asked if he could ask a question at this point and the following dialogue (paraphrased from memory) took place :
Shareholder : Can I ask a question at this point ?
Kenwright : Erm...no..I don't think so - we'll take questions later.
Shareholder : But it's relevant to this part
Kenwright : Erm....(checks with lawyers) we'll take questions later.
Shareholder : But I want to know a bit more about Mr Earl before I decide whether to vote to include him on the board.
Kenwright : We'll be taking questions later.
Everyone : It will be too late THEN - we have to vote on it NOW.
Kenwright : Erm....(checks with lawyers) - ask your question.
The shareholder then proceeded to ask about Mr Earl and what he brought to the party. Kenwright waffled for a bit, then Earl spoke, saying that he had been persuaded to buy out Paul Gregg's shares and he had also acted as a guarantor for extending loans/overdrafts since.
The other notable point was that at the very earliest possible opportunity (i.e. as soon as the questions went to the floor) Earl attracted Kenwright's attention and they had a quick conference behind Jon Woods' back - oh to be a fly on the wall for THAT little exchange !
My own personal view is that Earl has been brought in (as Gregg was) PURELY with the dangling carrot of the new stadium and his ownership of the naming rights - he later spoke at length about naming rights and the benefits it can bring, and that definitely seems the most likely scenario to me.
(when I heard)...that Robert Earl was going to be there, I thought THAT was going to be their "equalise before they score" tactic this time around but no - it was definitely Chris Potts (and again Kenwright played the "It's handy, because I didn't actually intend for him to be here tonight, he was just passing and I grabbed him in" card)
He was (understandably) absolutely battered with questions from the floor - most particularly from Colin Fitz and Dave Kelly (of KEIOC) - and he just kept going on and on about this "plinth" that would have to be built for the Loop proposal and how infeasible that made the whole thing. However, when he was then questioned about the cost and technicalities of cleansing the ex-landfill Kirkby site he said "my expertise is not in architecture or construction" which was greeted with lots of cries of "what are you going on about this plinth for then ?!?!?".
I think he was most definitely there to be the scapegoat, and he contradicted himself several times and was tied in absolute knots. He also - as I said - made several claims that will be severely scrutinised today regarding the alternative proposals.
The best bit was when he completely dismissed the HOK report saying that the Loops site was totally unfeasible - the following exchange took place :-
Colin Fitz : Have you actually read the report ?
Chris Potts : I've read bits of it.
Colin Fitz : Have you Bill ?
Kenwright : No.
Colin Fitz : Have you Keith ?
Wyness : No.
Colin Fitz : Well here you go - I've got a copy here (waves copy) - they were giving them out in the Winslow so you must be the only 3 people here who HAVEN'T read it !
Marvellous stuff !
I can categorically state that the following was NOT said during the meeting....
"Often as a chairman you get conspiracy theories thrown at you and you have to say, 'guys, I'm not an idiot, I'm also one of you. Don't you think if there was a possibility of XYZ, that I would be jumping at it?'
"The team that we brought in to look at these situations - you'd think we'd brought Desperate Dan and Corky the Cat in.
"We've got the best in the business looking at all the options, including the Kirkby move."
As ever - the press are in their pocket, reporting whatever Everton WANT them to, rather than what was actually SAID at the meeting.
Having said that, I'm glad his comments about revisiting and re-appraising all the alternatives were reported (especially as Wyness had earlier categorically denied that we would be doing so)