For me, a fan who very rarely misses a game, John Stones is one of the best young talents I have seen don the royal blue jersey. A young, quick, and confident reader of the game, comfortable in possession, looking to give and receive the ball in equal measure, strong in the air and chips in with the odd goal.
John Stones is 21, a full England international and is being touted as the next Rio Ferdinand. Stones is a very important part of the spine of the current Everton team. He's the sort of player who, along with James McCarthy, Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku et al is someone I want the team that I watch week in week out built around. He is also an example of Roberto Martinez's philosophy.
Martinez actually tried to sign him for Wigan Athletic from Barnsley before David Moyes gazumped him at the last minute.
I'm not surprised the so called "bigger" clubs are firm admirers of Stones - who wouldn't be? I'm equally not surprised at this board's silence in the aftermath of rebuffing Jose Mourinho's approach for him.
I want my side to have the players named above, with Seamus Coleman, Kevin Mirallas, Gerard Deulofeu, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines mixed in, playing good, positive football, getting good results and pushing to be amongst the Chelseas of this world. I don't want my club to be a stepping stone for their transfers. That won't happen, though, while this board is in charge.
They have taken a huge amount of criticism recently. Rightly so. From historical issues such as the Kings Dock, Destination Kirkby, the Fortress Sports Fund, ntl, selling Wayne Rooney, to more recent ones like Kitbag, Nike, Umbro, to Walton Hall Park. They all have one thing in common. Lies.
Remember Bill Kenwright said that Rooney would not be sold at any price? Approximately one week later he was pictured at Old Trafford. Remember the Fortress Sports Fund money would be "in the bank in on Monday?" That didn't materialise. Remember Robert Elstone played a video of us drawing 0-0 away against Arsenal and boasting that we were back with the big boys? He also said that the Kitbag deal was a "great deal for the club." Our kit deal is worse than Hull City's. And have you been in the Everton shops? If you live outside the North West of England then probably not. Let me tell you, they're under stocked and under staffed. You only have to look at the recent picture taken outside the Singapore National Stadium of the size of the Arsenal 'Official Merchandise' tent compared to that of Everton. Back amongst the big boys, eh Bob?
I've had a season ticket for 23 years. If John Stones is sold, for the first time in those 23 years I will have a serious think about returning it and asking for a refund. What is the point in investing time and money in following my club hoping, wishing and praying that we might challenge for a trophy this season, and having the same hopes, wishes and prayers season in - season out, only for them to be shattered by the selling of our best players or the questionable decisions of the manager (past and present, by the way)?
I've spoken to numerous Blues about this and I'm far from alone.
The board can end all of this, though.
Up to now, John Stones has not submitted a transfer request. Chelsea have not made a further bid, publicly anyway. So, why don't the board or indeed the manager as instructed by the board come out publicly and state "John Stones has not asked to leave Everton Football Club. He is a vital element in what we are trying to develop and achieve here and he is not available for sale at ANY PRICE." End of matter.
My fear is that eventually Stones will be instructed to formally submit a transfer request (a la Marouane Fellaini). This would waive any loyalties, sell ons etc. and will purely profit the club. Well, Bill Kenwright, Jon Woods, Robert Earl and Robert Elstone anyway. I also fear he will be sold on the cheap as far as the current market goes, and even more worrying is that he probably won't be replaced - unless it's by Jonny Evans!
Someone said to me "It seems that the EPL is designed for the top four to buy the best players and fight it out amongst themselves." Incorrect. Money from the Premier League is equally split amongst clubs, apart from prize money for finishing as high up the league as possible. And rightly so. So naturally, the clubs owned by billionaires are going to have more resources at their disposal to finish higher up the table. We could have too, if it wasn't for the current regime in the board room.
Last season we received £80,573,166 from the Premier League. Just under £30m of this was our 'Equal Share' of broadcast money. £27.75m was from Overseas TV revenue, which was also equally split amongst the 20 clubs. £12.5m was for finishing 11th and the rest was for a 'Facility fee.' (Source: Premier League)
The next TV deal which saw the rights more fiercely contested between BTSport and Sky Sports has saw the Premier League over take the Major League Baseball as the second most lucrative sporting league in the world, only the NFL is more lucrative. The bottom placed club on the Premier League would 'earn' £99m. That's nearly £20m more than we earned this season gone from finishing 11th.
So where does all of this money go? What is the need to even consider a bid for one of Europe's top defenders which falls considerably below value in comparison. David Luiz, £50m anyone? And when the new deal lands in the bank, will we be considering offers for Lukaku, Barkley, McCarthy again?
The board's already damaged reputation has taken an even further beating since January. Where has the CEO's blog gone? Where have Kenwright's TV interviews gone? As I said earlier, they could save some face here with the release of a simple statement. "John Stones is not for sale."
Failure to do so could cost the club a lot of support, revenue and cause a serious uprising. It could cause significant unrest within the current squad too. Imagine selling one of your best players to a club challenging for honours year in year out. Imagine just joining the club and seeing that. Imagine being approached by the club or considering joining us and seeing that. What message does that send out?
It sends out the message that Everton Football Club are easy pickings. A selling club with no plan, no direction, no ambition and no future.
John Stones should not be for sale.