I didn’t actually plan to write this blog, I was merely commenting on Darren’s excellent piece on the club’s plight and the plans by the Blue Union to protest. But as it began to ramble on and on I thought it best to put it in a blog and contribute more formally to the debate that is raging around Everton circles at present.
I will admit now I have sat on the fence so long I've probably got splinters up my a**e!
I keep wavering from one side to the other, mainly because I simply don't know the facts and for me it is down to a matter of trust.
However, if I was going to fall onto one side or the other I was siding with the people who, while not completely happy with the board, were against protest and prepared to let the situation play itself out.
I actually trusted the board, Kenwright, Elstone n co, mainly because they were in possession of the facts, they knew how business works and with all the madness going around the Premier League, we were holding our own.
The past summer though has caused me to lurch the other way. It is like the club has been continually poking me a stick. At first I could ignore it and pretend it wasn’t there, it then became a minor irritant. But the disaster on deadline day and the articles released by the club this week have been one annoyance too many.
This is because the promises and pledges made by the club’s hierarchy and accepted in good faith by myself and others proved to be lies and spin. I accepted that we didn’t have much to spend and that we may have to sell to buy, most fans did. But we were lied to when we were told that all funds raised from player sales would go straight to Moyes. I thought like many, that the Pienaar sale and Vaughan sale, along with any cash raised from the sales of Yobo and Yakubu, would go to the manager.
Now, I know transfers are a lot more complicated than that and it isn’t case of £2.5million in one end and £2.5million out the other. But the fact remains that players have been sold and not a penny has gone to Moyes. It made me realise that the club was indeed mis-leading us.
This resulted in yet another torturous summer of inactivity and stagnation – the third such summer in a row. Yet the silence from the club was deafening, until, that is, the now infamous meeting between Kenwright and the BU that fully revealed our plight.
I disagree with the way it was done – taping conversations without knowledge regardless of what was agreed about ‘reporting’ is not really on and lost the BU a lot of goodwill from both the club and the fanbase in the process.
However, in the grand scheme of things this indiscretion could well be lost and forgotten thanks to the impact it has had on both the support and the beleaguered board.
From my point of view It made me realise that all this talk of stability and being run properly – so often the staple diet of journalists across the country - is wrong.
The board has had an unsustainable business plan from day one and have been sleepwalking into the position we're in for years, it has been masked though by the performance of Moyes, who has extracted every last drop out of the players. His and the team’s success are despite of the board not because of it. Yet they continually claim their part in the club’s recent achievements- without Moyes their failings would have been found out long ago.
This is what made Elstone's blog and the convenient 'leak' to ESPN so patronising.
To use his quote:
"Whilst the Club is for sale, we have also overseen substantial and tangible progress in the last five years both on and off the pitch.
"We have signed record sponsorship deals, and hugely increased our income alongside achieving an average league position of sixth.
"In terms of the number of games played, it has also been the most prolific period of European football in the Club’s history and we have invested in building our best squad of players since the mid-1980’s."
True Mr Elstone, but much that is down to Moyes not you, the 'prolific' run in Europe, 6th place finishes, everything.
Ok, these record sponsorship deals are a step in the right direction, and I admit there has been progress in terms of commercial activities, the launch of Everton Two etc...
But this has had little or no impact on providing funds for Moyes and the failings of the board far outweigh the positives. Yet they are ignored.
This massive pr campaign they have launched this week in order to try and quell Saturday's protest is so cynical I have lost all faith. The ESPN article looks like it was written by Ross or Elstone themselves it is that sycophantic about Kenwright.
"A close friend of Kenwright's told ESPNsoccernet: "It is laughable that some fans are demanding that someone comes in to sell the club when Bill is trying so hard to bring in fresh investment. Let me tell you there is no better salesman, no-one better equipped to sing the praises of Everton and to sell the club."
Kenwright, who is as frustrated as any genuine fan about the club's plight, is already reeling from being deeply let down when he opened his heart to a small group of Everton supporters, one of whom allegedly recorded the confidential comments and made them public. In spite of this, the native Liverpudlian continues to work around the clock to bring in new finance."
We have heard all this before – often around season ticket renewal time – and nothing has been delivered. I, more than anyone I feel, has given the board patience and loyalty, I believe that Kenwright has being trying to sell.
We have been fed these stories for years now and I used to accept it - again because I trusted them. In fact I still believe that there are a lot worse chairman in the league than Kenwright, it is comforting to have a Everton fan at the helm and that has meant loyalty and a sense of perspective at key times during Moyes’ tenure, not the knee-jerk reaction of some trigger-happy owners.
However, that shouldn’t be allowed to mask chronic failures in other areas, mainly finances, where Kenwright admitted he did not have a firm grasp of. The club was able to cope with these failures in the short-term, but they are now seriously affecting Everton’s ability to progress.
The aggressive way the board has defended itself in recent weeks and the cynical way they have released these stories has left me feeling detached from the club I love more than I ever have in my life. The dropping of the ‘Peoples Club’ moniker is well timed, the people have well and truly been cut-off.
The club has drawn the battle lines against an already fractured fanbase, with an ever increasing section of support feeling protest is the only option. I have never really been for protest, more out of denial that things could ever get so bad at my beloved club – it will only paint a sorry picture of Everton in the media. And will it change anything? Again because we don’t know the facts – like how much the club is for sale for – it is hard to tell. But I feel we have reached the tipping point now where this board have to make way and give someone else a chance to try to sell the club because they have failed over the past three, five or ten years the club has been for ‘sale’ (who knows what the truth is).
Events in recent months have forced me off that fence I was perched increasingly uncomfortably on. And if forced to pick sides, I’m not going to go with a board who has made me feel disenfranchised from a club I have poured too much money and emotion in for my own good over the years. They have rewarded my loyalty, faith and trust with nothing but lies, failures and arrogant, dismissive put-downs.
Something has to give.