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A Review Of A Battle

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Not a bad read he highlights all of the things that made voting yes a none starter for me. I honestly believe this vote was won with an aggressive marketing campaign by the club and we will live to regret it. I as Colin does, question the legitimacy of peoples reasoning while casting their votes, have you voted for specifically a move to Kirkby or have you voted for a new stadium because the club led you to believe there was no other option? When we finally if we ever do find out the truth behind this deal I hope it's not too late for us to do something about it.


Imagine finding out the truth once we've moved and the deal looking far from rosy!


I still stand by my original opinion that all yes voters have been extremely naive to cast a yes vote with the limited, sketchy and IMO completely undeliverable information released. I fully expect to learn in a few years time we are massively in debt over this re-development and then the question must be raised, if we are incurring debt why not incur it in a better location??



After weeks of debate, accusations and counter accusations the result of the vote was finally announced, the aye’s prevailed and the battle by the no’s has been lost. The vote, conducted by Electoral Reform Services, clearly demonstrated that of those returning their voting slips just over 59% declared a preference to relocate the club to Kirkby and almost 41% declared a preference not to do so.


Complaints? Not from me, maybe some questions and observations, but the fact is ERS has an excellent reputation to uphold; indeed ten years ago Evertonians wanted their first vote to be conducted along their guidelines. Many will endeavour to place a spin on the result, the reality, however unpalatable for some, is that the Everton board have obtained exactly what they wanted. They took a calculated risk in offering the fan base a vote and only the truly naive expected anything other than a yes vote to be returned. I say calculated because they reduced the risk of failure down to a minimum. Prior to the vote the club, understandably, released professionally produced computer generated images of a floodlit Kirkby stadium, they explained that Goodison, for various reasons, could not continue to be our home, they explained that the “Deal of the Century” was to be obtained through a tripartite collaboration with Tesco and Knowsley Council and finally, and perhaps now most infamously, Keith Wyness, Everton’s chief executive, stated that there was no “Plan B”. It was, to all intents and purposes, a “take it or leave it” resolution.

The club paid for the vote, the club decided who was to vote, the club provided the database, the club decided the question, the club decided that a unilateral glossy brochure was to be sent with the voting pack extolling the benefits of Kirkby, the club was provided with regular indications from ERS, the club utilised strategically timed press releases from Mr. Leahy, Mr. Wyness and their stadium designers which reinforced the club’s monologue on Kirkby and derided those daring to offer an alternative. In summary the club conducted a highly professional campaign and ultimately achieved their objective. The only organised opposition was provided by keioc, a group that can be described, at best, as an enthusiastic bunch of amateurs that dared to take on the combined forces of a premiership club’s board, Britain’s biggest supermarket and, in my opinion, a council that thinks it’s won the lottery. Professional’s v Amateurs, the outcome was as predictable as it was inevitable.


Now that the vote is concluded do Evertonians need dissenting voices or should we all come together for the good of the club? I suppose your answer depends on what your definition of the phrase “the good of the club” happens to be. I believe most people did heed the warnings from the board and voted with their head and not their heart. Yes voters consisted of those who fully accepted what the board and Mr. Leahy told them and others who, in the absence of a viable alternative, voted on the only deal presented to them. No voters consisted of those who steadfastly wished to remain at Goodison, those that questioned the validity of the information given to them and others who hoped, some may say forlornly, that a future alternative, perhaps in the guise of LCC and Bestway Holdings, would eventually emerge.


Obviously I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong but I do know that, whichever way Evertonians voted, they’re neither traitors, luddites nor any of the other unfortunate derogatory terms that have been used in recent weeks, they’re merely people expressing an opinion on the information as they see it.


I also know that ultimately I’ll be magnanimous enough to thank all those who voted yes if Everton end up with a fantastic stadium, very little extra debt and overcome all those geodemographic and logistics problems, highlighted by real experts, associated with moving an institution away from a renaissance city to a town. Conversely I’ll thank those who voiced their concerns and banded together in opposition if the Kirkby project turns out not to be the “deal of the century”, we end up with a second rate stadium, much higher debt than was indicated and have revenue streams which don’t correspond with those projected before the vote. The problem with this second scenario is that unspeakable damage to our football club will have occurred by that time, so in this respect I believe for now and for “the good of the club” the dissenters that are keioc shouldn’t disband, should learn from their mistakes, take stock and in future attempt to promote a more professional voice for the underdogs in this, the fans.

The board may have their wish / majority / mandate, call it what they will, but they shouldn’t be too complacent about what they’ve achieved, a comparison with the previous ballot on the Kings Dock project reveals that whichever way you look at the King’s Dock vote it was an overwhelming endorsement from the people who actually matter most to Everton Football Club, those people who actually attend the games throughout the season, their fans.


Kirkby King's Dock

Vote Poll Vote Poll

Yes 59.265% 41.542% 86.498% 68.405%

No 40.734% 28.553% 13.501% 10.677%

DNV 29.734% 20.864%

Void 0.172% 0.055%




The Kirkby vote data demonstrates a clear percentage, over 59%, in favour of the proposed move, it also exhibits, when compared to the King’s Dock vote, a significant increase in opposition and perhaps, when comparing those that did not vote (dnv), a general indifference to the Kirkby project as a whole. More ominously when the poll data of both of these votes are compared a worrying statistic emerges.


Whilst the King’s Dock percentage of poll clearly reinforces the result of that vote the Kirkby data does nothing of the sort, in fact the yes vote now represents just over forty one percent. To the committed yes voter this will be dismissed as a mere statistical aberration as a “first past the post” situation was clearly proposed, but I would suggest that the board of Everton Football Club dismiss this at their peril as one of the key factors to the future success of any proposed new stadium development is the clubs ability to fill it on a regular basis. I’m reminded of the American correspondent commentating on the fiasco surrounding George W Bush’s first election, after several days with no result he announced, “The country has spoken, we’re just not sure what they’ve said!”


Many interpretations can be applied to any vote, this one is no exception, and as I stated at the beginning it’s arguably inconsequential as the Everton board will now be moving forward to secure what they see as the only deal on offer to the club. Their contention is that Kirkby offers a deliverable “win win win” scenario, Kirkby get their town centre redeveloped, Tesco get a massive supermarket and Everton get a £150,000,000 stadium. One of my problems is, what happens if it becomes a “lose lose lose” scenario? What happens if the residents of Kirkby, the local opposition political parties and other retail developments within a thirty-minute drive of Kirkby force the government to review and ultimately reject this proposal? Some people are under the impression that Tesco are all powerful and will deliver this project and this may well be the case, however, here’s just some of the Tesco projects that have run into considerable trouble in recent years:


Tesco Store Problem Action


Bury St Edmunds - Extension built without full planning permission - May be forced to demolish

Andover - Development bigger than Heathrow Terminal 5 - 95% of locals protest

Slough - Planned to build megastore - Regulator halted project

Yiewsley (London) - Accused by Co-op of misleading planning officials - Plans turned down

Worcester - Move existing school against local wishes - Application rejected after Government review

Stockport - Store built 20% larger than planning permission - Council capitulates



In my opinion Tesco are clearly orchestrating this project. In order to push their plans through, the business strategy adopted for these massive projects appears to be one that promotes regeneration and “something for the community”. If this eventually fails or they have to significantly reduce their development, perhaps at the expense of the stadium, they’ll at least have the consolation of other development projects to exploit, they have many, one is the proposed massive supermarket in Great Homer Street that’s part of the Project Jennifer regeneration scheme. Everton remember have no back up, no contingency plan, no “plan b”.


Under these circumstances wouldn’t it make good business sense to at least investigate all potential opportunities no matter how late they appear? This would address two issues; firstly it may placate those fans who feel that the LCC / Bestway Holdings proposal has been unreasonably derided by the board, prove once and for all that it is or isn’t a red herring and irrespective of cost it may at least offer the possibility of an alternative; it could in fact present the much needed plan b to the Kirkby project. Secondly and perhaps more importantly Everton need to indulge in some meaningful dialogue with LCC, if Kirkby collapses and we definitely have no alternative site, this will potentially be our best source for land for any future development.

At the moment we seem to be involved in little more than a public slanging match with LCC, unfortunately conducted in public through the local press, I cannot understand for one moment how this can be conducive to Everton’s best interests.


Whilst many people have accused LCC of favouring Liverpool FC my view is that the Liverpool board have simply done a better job, they understand a fundamental rule of negotiation, quid pro quo, and have managed to conclude the necessary deals that are required to give their fans a stadium which is worth leaving their current home for, they have a board with a vision and the necessary people skills to realise that vision whilst managing to keep the majority of their fans on board.


It is a sad indictment on our custodians that whilst our neighbours LFC are essentially masters of their own destiny, our club, our great club, has become little more than a pawn in a bid for an out of town retail park development.


This vote has split the match going Everton public like no other issue I can remember and before anyone starts ramming the word majority down my throat just remember what the voting figures were, 15,230 v 10,468, that’s a difference of 4,762 meaning that the vote was swayed by the decision of just 2,382 people. Everton’s current average attendance is 36,738.


Can anyone honestly tell me that 2,382 people voted yes on the basis that they truly believed Everton are about to get the deal of the century or that Everton are getting, as stated by Terry Leahy “to own a £150 million stadium for around £35 million investment”? No, many will have voted yes for one reason and one reason only, simply there was no other viable alternative on offer. When the prospect of an alternative that had tangible attractions to the fans became something of a fly in the ointment out came the open letters from Keith Wyness and Terry Leahy rubbishing the idea followed by a technical assessment, from an employee of a company involved in the Kirkby project, that was later made to look distinctly lightweight by the joint opinion of HOK and WSP.


Others will have voted yes because the Kirkby project, again in the absence of a viable alternative, was promoted as the most cost effective deliverable solution for a club that has an atrocious balance sheet and poor financial backing. This has been Kirkby’s unique selling point all along, it’s beneficial to the Everton board because they either can’t or won’t borrow hundreds of millions to finance their own stadium build.


After explaining what Tesco is contributing to the project, a specific stadium cost of £110M is finally mentioned in Terry Leahy’s open letter, this is later confirmed by Keith Wyness as the true net cost of the stadium. Keith Wyness is confident, some would say over confident, that the sale of Goodison, £15M, and naming rights, minimum £25M, will raise a combined £40M in contribution towards that cost, this leaves a figure of £70M which needs to be accounted for through a combination of vague “discounts” and some unspecified long term debt taken on by Everton. Perhaps Barr’s new owners (sold in June 2007, a fact conveniently omitted) wont want to build a stadium for nothing. They are, remember, a business who operate in a low margin industry and whose profits are measured in single million figures. Perhaps the stadium is simply a £75M stadium masquerading as a £110M stadium, now at least the figures begin to stack up.


So the board can self congratulate for swaying the decisions of just over two thousand Evertonians in order to secure the decision they needed, but at what cost or should that be value? Last Saturday I went to the game, I jumped a cab for the five-minute trip to Maghull station, on seeing the badge on my jacket the driver gave me chapter and verse on why Kirkby was a bad decision, it was the same in town, around the ground, even in the match. The guy sitting next to me was obviously a very knowledgeable Evertonian; it’s always great to talk to guys who have been there before my time, eventually the conversation came around to the vote, he turned out to be yet another disillusioned fan. I’m not the sort of person to engage strangers in conversation but I’m always polite and I’ll talk to anyone who talks to me, time and time again on that day I met people who were genuinely upset about the potential move to Kirkby, throughout the day I honestly met only one person who was pleased with the result of the vote and inevitably he turned out to be a red!

Some people I talked to frankly made me look like a part-time Evertonian, they’ve watched Everton home and away all their adult lives and have traveled all over the world watching even the pre-season tournaments, when you hear these people saying that they won’t be going once we’ve moved to Kirkby there’s got to be something seriously wrong. Let’s hope time really is a great healer. I’m not one of those people who won’t go to Kirkby if it happens, I’ll certainly give it a chance, but if it turns out that part of me being an Evertonian was about the ground we play in, its location and atmosphere, whether real or perceived, then I may just consign that part of my life to the same places that Goodison is being consigned to, memories and history.


There’s been lots of talk about white rabbits from hats and red herrings recently, so just to join in, let’s just hope we don’t end up with a white elephant! Maybe everything will pan out and we will get a £150,000,000 stadium development for an investment of just £35,000,000, for the sake of a lot of Evertonians, and indeed for Everton itself, I hope that what has been described is a true representation, if it isn’t I’d at least like to think that we haven’t been led down the garden path by our fellow Evertonians, if we have then their positions may become untenable.


Perhaps we’ve been looking in the wrong direction all along; isn’t that the secret of a good illusion? There’s an old legal principle that’s applied when trying to establish the truth, the question asked is who benefits? Perhaps in this case it would be more advantageous to ask who benefits most?


If it turns out that we are being led down Tesco’s garden path then on principle I will refuse to spend another penny in any Tesco store, now I won’t expect Terry Leahy to lose a nano second of sleep over my decision, I wouldn’t expect him to lose any if some other Evertonians were minded to do the same, but if 5,000, 10,000 even 20,000 Evertonian families joined in a boycott they may just get the message. People from Liverpool are often accused of many things, being unprincipled is definitely not one of them, how many of you reading this, even after all these years, would touch a copy of the Sun even if offered one free of charge?


The next few months may be extremely interesting, off the pitch we may soon see an agreement between Everton, Tesco and Knowsley Council as a precursor to planning permission being sought, Everton’s accounts are out next month and may prove interesting reading and heaven forbid if LCC and Bestway Holdings produce a deliverable business plan for the loop site. On the pitch we have European football to look forward to, we’re at the top end of the premiership and we’re entertaining the champions next week with possibly our best squad for many years, we’ll be winning a trophy next!


This has simply been my view of recent events; I accept others will view the same events in a different light; we’re all entitled to our opinion. Where perhaps we have common ground is that we all want the best for our great club. At an early age every member of the Evertonian family is taught that famous Latin phrase that will always be associated with Everton Football Club, nil satis nisi optimum, you’re not suggesting that my father was telling me a lie?


To paraphrase De Gaulle “A battle was lost, not the war”

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If there is a god we won't move, it is completely stupid to think we will have any chance of filling it even for the derby. If the move goes ahead supporters should protest by not going to the match and just she how long the board will put up with a COMPLETELY empty stadium week in week out.

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If there is a god we won't move, it is completely stupid to think we will have any chance of filling it even for the derby. If the move goes ahead supporters should protest by not going to the match and just she how long the board will put up with a COMPLETELY empty stadium week in week out.


I don't realy agree with that mate I do believe in the long term our attendances may well suffer but the saving grace would be sucess which we all know comes from having the money to compete in the transfare market. I think the big question will be can we generate that cash once we move? If we do and we keep performing in the league the board will be relativly safe but if we incure increased debt during the move (which I believe we will) then tighten the purse strings our performance will suffer. If that happens I think it will be a desaster for the club, what scares me is the board know this and wont let it happen so if the stad turns out to have not increased our available funds have no doubt we will be borrowing to support growth and sustain the required attendance level. That is a nightmare scinario for me but a very likely reality IMO!

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