LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Yea, uh No (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
WithtThe release of the transcript of the Blue Union's meeting with Bill Kenwright coupled with Everton's poor showing against QPR and a luck victory over Blackburn at the weekend, it is safe to say that the skittish nature of Evertonian's has come out in full force already. The problem is that Everton has two different problems, and solving one will not immediately solve the other problem. The first of these problems is the performance of the team on the pitch, and the second problem is the issue of Everton's finances. Ideally both problems could be solved at different times, but it is much more likely that one problem will be solved before the other will, although it is anyone's guess which will come first.To begin with let's look at Everton's early season play. We all know the drill, Everton starts slow before picking up their pace in the spring. The past two seasons have resulted in Everton earning on average 10 fewer points in the first half of the campaign than they did in previous seasons, 22 points down from 32 points. The problem is there is no obvious answer. The core of this Everton side has been set since the 2007-2008 when the last major additions were added. If anything this squad should be better with most players having 3-4 years to play together and build team chemistry. Whatever the problem is, it is not because David Moyes does not have the funds to bring in new players. For Everton to realistically compete for a Champions League position, an investment of at least 50 million pounds would be required if not more. Even if Kenwright can sell the club, the new owner is highly unlikely to be rich enough to allow Everton to throw money around like Chelsea, Manchester City, or Manchester United. If we are lucky the owner would fund us similar to Tottenham, but even that could not be guaranteed.
The performance of the players over the past two years is on the manager and the players. Sure Evertonians have been spoiled by recent success, but if the squad can finish 5th for two years in a row there is no reason for such an inconsistent performance over the past few years, especially given the lack of squad turnover. Yes a top striker and some depth for the outside midfielders would be nice, but that requires at least 20 million quid to get the correct player, and we still have Yakubu who netted 20 goals in 2007.
The only thing that needs to be changed at Everton is the attitude, for all the determined words that come from the players' mouths, their actions do not back it up. It is one thing to play well, try hard, but come up short; however, it is a completely different thing to not even put in the effort, and that is what happens all too often for the Toffees.
Of course the second problem facing Everton is the financial situation. The Blue Union's interview should not be shocking to any Evertonian. Ever since Wayne Rooney was sold the club has only had the ability to buy players after taking out loans, or selling our own stars. Only success has staved off the type of mass hysteria sweeping around Merseyside. This means outside investment would be the easiest path to secure the club's future, but there are some things that Kenwright could do to improve the look of the club.
In the interview Kenwright mentions that the Kitbag deal has allowed the club to make about 3 million pounds in merchandise, up from the loss the club use to suffer. Putting aside the craziness of the club losing money on merchandise sales, Kitbag still limits Everton's potential earnings. Here in the U.S. the only way purchase a kit is from Everton's website, or a few authorized dealers. Stores with all manner of jersey's will almost never have an Everton shirt, and if they do it is likely to be several years old. Unfortunately the club is stuck with the Kitbag deal for the next 6-7 years.
A second option for the club is to work towards selling out Goodison Park for every match. Last year the average attendance was a little over 36,000 per match with a maximum capacity of about 40,000. Even if the only additional funds from Everton come here, it is enough to begin paying back the debt at a slow but steady rate.
The final and worst option for the club is to begin selling players to pay back the debt. Unless a magic investor appears in the next year or so this is the most likely outcome, and until then we can only wait and hope. With such well known financial problems, the club will need to stand firm on any transfer offers from other clubs. At best we would lose 2-3 players in order to completely pay off the debt, and at worst it could go to 5-6 players. If this does happen my hope would be for Moyes to try to sell one or two of the more talented players, but then try and clearout some of the highest wage earners who are getting up there in years such as Cahill, Arteta, Yakubu, etc. Maybe then Everton would be able to prevent a complete free-fall to a relegation battle during the season.