Time to pray: Is Bill close to selling up?
Whoa, hold on a minute – Everton? Takeover? Is this true? Are we rich? Is Messi on his way?
If a collective will for change among fans could manifest itself into cash Everton would be the richest club on the planet right now.
The very sniff of the word ‘take-over’ is enough to work an Everton fan into a state of frenzied excitement. After a few years consistently finishing ‘best of the rest’, with the top four tantalisingly close, the club have recently been tied down with rising debt, while others over-take at varying speeds. Change at boardroom level is long overdue.The Blue Union protests and Bill Kenwright’s revelation about ‘begging the banks not to kill us’ meant things quickly came to a head over the summer.
Now, rumours have begun to surface on the internet that appears to have some credence. They started with this story on the Daisy Cutter website, the owner of which had received a tip-off from a source over a possible take-over from Indian investors who were over in Liverpool discussing a potential land deal.
The Daisy Cutter freely admits that he was stung by the reaction of the piece – as Evertonians bombarded the site and his Twitter feed asking for more information and when none came, dismissing him as a wind-up merchant - especially as the site's tag line was 'the football newspaper that honestly lies'.
The DC later released this article as an apology for not having more info, but stressing that the tip-off he received was genuine and that he was not seeking to wind Evertonians up over such a sensitive issue - the site is also no longer publishing 'fake' stories, despite the tagline.
The plot thickened when it emerged that Finch Farm – Everton’s training ground – was for sale, was this the potential land deal Daisy Cutter was referring too? It certainly gives the rumours some credence, and got us all excited.
After all under the terms of Everton’s expensive agreement with the owners of Finch Farm, the club has the chance to buy the site every five years, with the next opportunity being next summer, it would make sense then that any new owners will want to take advantage of that window before is shuts for five more years.
However, that story – which by now had sparked off some epic threads on Everton forums – proved to be a red (blue?) herring and the 40 acre land deal we believe was actually to do with the ‘Football Quarter’.
The Football Quarter was an idea conceived with the help of supporters group from both Everton and Liverpool, who would like to see both clubs remain at the spiritual homes either side of Stanley Park with a “shared facility for the two clubs, for the local community and for the city with educational, recreational, leisure and community facilities” constructed around the park.
Development of this idea was given momentum by Former Tesco CEO and advisor to Everton, Sir Terry Leahy, and the RT Hon the Lord Heseltine, who gave their views on regeneration in Liverpool, with the two football clubs at the heart of it.
The pieces of the puzzle began to fit, and a company was named. The Jain Group are construction giants in their homeland of India, who also have vast energy and property interests, and were reportedly interested in investment opportunities in the UK and upon looking at the city of Liverpool, were introduced to Everton.
The idea of a land deal linked with the building of a new stadium does make sense –and the forums went into overdrive.
But, like in Jurassic Park where they used frog DNA to make dinosaurs that went bad – were we filling the gaps with something that just doesn’t fit? We have, after all, been subjected to a series of let downs over the years that have led us to be very cynical to any magic take-over that will solve all of our woes and send us back on a upward curve again.
Then, out of nowhere, the press picked up on it, or more accurately – the Daily Mirror
But, to be honest, it had no quotes to back it up and was probably gleaned from reading the internet forums and Daisy Cutter, who printed the same information a few weeks previously.
But, with the cat out of the bag it forced the Liverpool Echo into action. They spoke to their contact in the club (Ian Ross??) who didn’t deny that talks had taken place ,but stressed that nothing was imminent, and in fact revealed they hadn’t heard from the Jain Group for 10 days.
Then the next day the Echo confirmed that the Jain Group had been on a tour of Goodsion (lets hope they steered clear of the wooden seats in the Bullens eh?).
The plot thickens.
Sky Sports picked up the story and revealed that an American group are among FIVE interested parties in taking over the club – who?? where did these come from??
So from none to five in the matter of weeks – is it a coincidence that another protest is planned for the Wolves game? That half-season tickets are now on sale? Or is this leak an attempt to placate the fans who feel that nothing is being done to sell the club?
If it is the latter then it is a huge risk because if nothing becomes of these rumours the anger against Kenwright will intensify – I doubt it will be the buying party who will be blamed for pulling out of any deal.
It is clearly a story that had some distance to run, these deals take time and you wonder whether these are any different to the other apparent negotiations that have proven ultimately fruitless in the recent past.
But, it is at least something to cling to and evidence that the club are at least trying to come up with a solution to both our inability to buy players and the ground issue. Credit to the Daisy Cutter for finding the story but also for actually registering on Everton forums to speak direct to supporters, his honesty has earned the supporter’s trust, even if he is a Man City fan!.
The Echo are also on the case now with the nationals and broadcasters also set to follow suit (nothing on BBC website as yet – that WILL be a sign something is happening). A enterprising member of Grand Old Team forum even sent an email (allegedly) to the Jain Group asking about a possible deal, and they sent a (allegedly) reply confirming that a statement would be released soon – is it on?? I will, of course, keep you updated if and when it arrives (manual refreshing Jain website as I type!!). The Twitter word is though that we should prepare ourselves for bad news.....
Like all Blues I desperately hope something happens soon - with the Jain Group or anyone else. There is a staleness about the club at present that is sapping my usually boundless enthusiasm for all things Blue. Whether it is me simply getting older I don’t know (we were even worse when I watched Everton as a kid in the 90s) but to see us march all the way up to the doors of something really special, -a cup final and the cusp of the money-bags top four - only to fall away rapidly while others overtake and bolt the door behind them, has left me –and plenty of others I suspect – feeling pretty deflated.
Simply the rumours over the past few days have given everyone a lift – even if we are all filled with trepidation about what would happen if a Venkys mk II took us over.
But it has also caught our imagination, this club has so much potential, we just need someone with the vision, cash and ambition to help achieve it, which we have unfortunately established is pretty hard to come by in today’s climate.
I have to stress that I know nothing more than anyone else who has scoured the internet over the past few weeks so I am not claiming this is anything more than internet rumour.I am also not doing this to wind people up, peddle rumours or gain hits - I have let things play out significantly before writing this post and I felt events over the past few days deserve a write-up - These latest rumours though do seem to carry more weight than any others in the recent past.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Don't forget to follow me on twitter @Tom_Mallows as well as RBM's official Twitter feed @rbmersey