Everton: no plans, no profit, no future. Compare and contrast with Arsenal

I wonder if it is something in the water in Liverpool, or some sort of genetic inability to get things right, or maybe they are just careless, but however you look at it, Everton is a downright and absolute mess.

On 21 January 2009 I reported (as did some other people) that Liverpool Council had rejected Everton’s appeal against the rejection of their plan to turn their training ground into flats.

What was interesting was that the whole fiasco cost Everton £10m in fees and consultants.  What was bizarre was that the Everton board then launched an incredible attack on on the democratically elected officials of the council, saying how wrong it was that a few people should decide what the club could do.   Presumably a fascist dictatorship was more in keeping in style, standards and approach that apply on Merseyside.

Or maybe it was they wanted the money to help pay for the £78m new ground in Kirkby.

When the fiasco unraveled the club said that the new ground development with Tesco would not be affected by the decision on the training ground sale, although “it would probably cost the council money as they would have to put up more to pay for the new ground.”

Now I can’t find the source of that quote, and maybe it is just something lodged in my computer, but I am sure someone at the club said something like that.  And that is rather stupid, when you are still dependent on support from everyone for planning permission for your new ground.

So in January the planning inquiry into the new out of town ground carried on, and was at the time expected to be resolved in a few weeks.  That was January.

Undoubtedly there will be members of Everton who will again blame a tiny group of busybodies for turning down the application for the new ground.  But the fact is that Liverpool Council never wanted Everton to move to Kirkby, and the way Everton spoke about the council after the training ground rejection just hardened attitudes.

Everton, in short, is a masterclass in how not to handle local politics. Chief Executive of Everton last January Robert Elstone said,  ‘The truly disappointing aspect of this is that the politicians who run this city went against the recommendations of the Council’s own planning experts.

‘In such circumstances you have to ask, why is that? What is the point in employing experienced and learned experts if you are simply going to ignore their advice?”

Quite what one says to someone whose knowledge of how our democratic system of local government works is so utterly lacking that he can even ask a question like that I don’t know.  The fact is that in the UK we are not a meritocracy ruled by experts.  We are a democracy ruled by the people elected by the people.  Neo-fascists might not like the idea and might like to return to the ideas of 1910 wherein (as you will know if you have read MAKING THE ARSENAL) the plan was put forward to sterilise the poor.  Experts, the knowledgeable, the clever, decide what is good for the rest of us.

Thankfully Everton FC don’t run our country.

Everton wanted to sell their old training ground and build 74 houses on the site, despite objections from local residents.  Despite planning department approval, that scheme was rejected by Liverpool council’s planning committee last year.  On appeal Everton’s plans were rejected by government planning inspector Karen Ridge, on ‘the principle of residential development on the site’.

Unfortunately Everton had already moved to their new Finch Farm training complex in Halewood last year, and so the site is useless, and a part of the Everton debt is due to the fiasco.

So, no new training ground, and today no new stadium.  A history of total opposition to normal democratic procedures, and today, a new idea – they asked the council to cough up more money to build a new shared stadium with Liverpool.

Everton are £37m in debt. Nothing compared with their neighbour’s £360m debt, but it is a debt with no way of it being paid off at all.

Each year it gets worse, except in 2005 when they sold Rooney.   In 2008 they tried to buy themselves out of debt by borrowings to “invest in the playing squad”.    As we can see that has worked very well with the club playing in the Champions League…. oh.

£23m of the debt will not be required to be paid for five years, but there is no future in the club at all as it stands.   And in five years….

The point of this article – stimulated obviously by the news about the rejection of the stadium, is that as matters stand, Everton is one of many clubs that has no future at all in any normal commercial sense.

If the club had bullied its way into a new ground has and had managed to fill it with 55,000 each game then the income from the ground would be akin to second division Newcastle’s.    

That would give an extra £10m a year.  Now supposing not only that the ground fills up for each game (and remember that Manchester United tickets just down the road are now on general sale for most games) but also supposing that Everton don’t have to pay for the ground, because it is paid for by Tesco, naming rights and the sale of their existing ground, then that would just about remove the current debt, and give them extra revenue.

But these are huge IFs.   A bad run in the league could see the ground half empty.  Building costs might rise.  And one must have a suspicion about this naming rights stuff.  Tottenham are supposedly paying for around half of their ground out of naming rights.   Is this money really going to be there?

And much depends what they could sell Goodison for.  Their record on planning permissions is, thus far, not good.

My point here is twofold. One is, there is actually no way out short of another rich person buying the club – and since half the EPL and 80% of the second division are up for sale, that seems to be unlikely.  The way Portsmouth found themselves bought by two Arabs who between them seemed to struggle to find 50p for the meter, and the way that neighbours Liverpool have owners who simply can’t work out how to pay for anything, shows that this is not an easy area.

In effect, Liverpool and Everton are loss making enterprises with no way of doing anything other than making more losses.  As such they are not viable businesses, and are on the road to terminal decline.

But contrast for a moment the way in which Arsenal got the Ems built.  On time, on budget, the only thing that went wrong was that the recession came along and cut some of the budget from the redevelopment of Highbury and of the industrial units nearby.   Such organisation and planning seems utterly beyond the abilities of Everton.

But maybe they should start by learning a little about local democracy.

MAKING THE ARSENAL by Tony Attwood is available via www.emiratesstadium.info and via Amazon.

17 Replies to “Everton: no plans, no profit, no future. Compare and contrast with Arsenal”

  1. Another excellent read Tony. Much as I loathe many of these clubs, it is a shame to see their history diminished by the incompetence (in some cases criminal incompetence)of their current boards.

  2. Most of the teams in Britain will do well to approach Arsenal for training on how to effectively run a successful football club. Instead of petty jealousy and envy, they should ask for help, study the Arsenal model and follow it.

    The FA should acknowledge Arsenal, in the same way as the England manager, instead of actively planning to undermine the club; an exercise that is doomed to failure. By such open acknowledgement, they will open the way for all clubs to follow the obviously successful model.

  3. So it looks like the same system and situation in England as in my country. It is the task of the chosen people in the city council to have the last word in this. As it is my job to advice the city council on those planning permission I can say whatever I want at the end of the day it is their decision that is final.
    Could you imagine that if it only would be me (or another colleague) to make a decision and what could happen in my office that nobody ever would now ? Corruption, corruption and yet more corruption would be the result.
    So leave it up to the elected people as they can be voted out of office when a new election comes. This doesn’t exclude corruption by the elected people but it makes it a bit more difficult.

    Yet another excellent article that tells us how lucky we are with our board and manager who build a fortress on a solid foundation.
    If we keep working in our way we can be sure that our childrens children and even their children can support The Arsenal. This can not be said of other clubs….

  4. Interesting article as ever, Tony.

    Everton have been a pillar of English football & perhaps are an example of how much times have changed in the Wenger years.

    The need for highly professional management seems to be emphasised here.

    I do not follow with the “loathing” of other clubs because most supporters are just like us & have the deepest attachment by “the grace of God”.

    Arsenal appear to be in a very good place right now, both on & off the field, but beware of “schadenfreude(??)” because you never know what is around the corner. The Kroenke maneuvering of shares is for a reason that has not been clarified. For all we know it is to see off Uzmanov but it could fail & our club with all it stands for changed for ever.

  5. Very good point Flint. We have to be careful not to step up onto any pedestals, because it wouldn’t take much to knock us off.

  6. Tony you seem to make a virtue of Arsenal bringing the Grove in on time, and in budget. Truly a great achievement when you compare to Wembley for example.

    But…there were a lot of shenanigan behind the scenes. Palms were greased, and contracts were smoothed though. When Chips Keswick (Tally ho) found out about some of this Keith Edelman was booted out rather rapidly. Rumours abound that certain individuals made a lot of personal capital out of the new stadium & Highbury project, allegedly.

    PS Will the Emirates be abe to keep paying us? They seem to be up a creek without a paddle in Dubai right now.

  7. Tony – Once again as events unfold worldwide your words have a prophetic ring, i.e. “….there is actually no way out short of another rich person buying the club – and since half the EPL and 80% of the second division are up for sale, that seems to be unlikely.”
    The current crisis in Dhubai and the shockwaves thoughout the financial world especially in the neighbouring Emirates has effectively put a major wheel in the spokes of both Everton and Liverpool. There goes the prospect of another Arab sugar-daddy to bail-out both clubs.
    Pop goes the weasel.

  8. Pete the First – I take your point, but I try (not always successfully) to write mostly about the facts as far as they are known and only wander into by-ways of rumour when there seems to be a deliberate plot to hide facts, ownerships, guarantees and the like (Notts County is a typical case).

    I don’t think anything in terms of dodgy dealing has ever been more than rumour and talk, so I tend to leave it out when talking about Arsenal. If it were shown to be true that our club behaved in corrupt manners I would be horrified, but would certainly admit it, and bring it into my analysis – such as it is.

    With Everton what I have tried to do is comment just on issues that no one contests as being the facts, and contrast with what are known as facts in our case – a stadium built on time to budget.

    I believe our position on financing is that an average gate of 50,000 and group stages of the Champs League every 4th year is enough to pay our way. Everything above that is straight to the profit. No one knows what the crowd will be for any club in four or five years time, but Arsenal did do an interesting experiment by playing at Wembley for 2 years to show we could get 70,000 in to a game. I am not sure that Everton can be that certain that they will fill their stadium if they move. But if they move, then we will see.

  9. You ppl make me laugh…
    It’s a joke how can you be comparing any club in the UK with ARSENAL FC financially and I include CITY in this equation too. It’s an insult…

    These stupid directors will run their clubs into chapter 11 one by one hahahahahahahahhaahahahahahahahahahaaha

  10. As always Tony an interesting piece with a really good point by Flint. It seems to me the major probel is the money clubs are pouring into wages. Cesc can earn a lot of money, as can RVP Arshavin, Vidic, Rooney etc. Phil Neville however cannot, he is at best an average player and thats being generous. Clubs like Everton (and there are a lot of them) have to learn that they cannot pay wages that try to compete with Arsenal, ManU etc. If this means their best players move on, well thats life and hard luck. Everton supporters have a simple choice losing players or losing the club they support.

  11. pete the first don’t know where you got your info but Edleman was shown the door not for corrupt dealings but for his poor handling of the sponsorship deals, he sold the club very short with Nike and the Emirates, he basically took their first offers, and did not build in add ons, and it was for this he got a golden handshake to leave,
    one of the first things Gazidis done was look to see if it was possible for Arsenal to renage on our deals for shirt sponsorship with both Nike and Emirates, it seems that we could but that we would have to pay a panalty to both and this was thought to be bad business so its been decided not to go down that route, but Arsenal have asked both to consider offering to pay more now or face being not even considered for renewal deals in the future as other companies have already shown keenest to take over from them.

  12. Tony apprecaite your position, very sensible to only report solid facts. Otherwise I suspect the site would be pulled by the hosts. That’s why I would always stick an allegedly after the quotes.

    It’s a little like the rumours about our major shareholder from Uzbekistan. Well he’s a part of the KGB clique that sits under the wings of the Putin government, the most corrupt regime on the planet, allegedly. Good friend of the owner of our opponents on Sunday. Roman, now I know some great ditties about him!

    Keep up the good work.

  13. In fact Arsenal plays the best football and is very sound financially as well. Its time that every1 else learns from our model…

  14. The worst news of the season so far:

    We’ll lose RVP for 4-5 months…..it’s confirmed.

    When is this curse of bad luck gonna stop???

  15. I do think it is a sad day for football when a club like Everton are in major trouble.You cannot compare there plight to that of Liverpool.They are one of the few clubs in the premier league that have a English owner,and no major backer.
    We must be careful on this subject,what if the Yank buys us,and puts all the debt against the club! ie Man.Unt.

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