An Everton official has confirmed the club is for sale in region of £125million and are currently attracting interest from a consortium in the Middle East – but is it all spin?
Stan Collymore (yes, the former Liverpool striker) has been on a mission, phoning up a member of Everton’s hierarchy and asking him some probing questions put to Collymore by fans on Twitter.
Bill Kenwright and David Moyes signed off all the answers, so they were never going to be too shocking, but the answers were still reasonably enlightening.
The first question was whether Everton is for sale. The answer was a definite ‘yes’, though when pushed on an asking price the answer was more vague.
The club ‘source’ says that no asking price is put in a prospectus sent to potential buyers but when pushed a ballpark figure was given at £125million.
It is a fee that has been bandied about before and for me, even with my limited knowledge of football finances, seems a very high price. If you factor in the club’s debt (confirmed at £48million), lack of assets and an aging ground that needs replacing, it is little wonder that investors are unwilling to splash out that sort of cash.
The source mentioned Man City and the fact the City of Manchester Stadium was up and running when Sheikh Mansour arrived, meaning investment in the playing squad was only needed in order to lift the club into the top four positions. Everton require infrastructure investment too, which costs, further putting off potential investors.
Speaking of the ground, Goodison Park is "a millstone around the club’s neck" and that redevelopment of the ground is impossible.
The club feel they did not always have the same support from Liverpool City Council that Liverpool had over a ground move. However, they are now engaging in dialogue.
The source also says the club agree with the council’s belief that the city of Liverpool does not need two stadiums and that a ground-share is the only option. However: "the only party that doesn’t engage in discussions over a ground-share is Liverpool".
Should a ground-share option continue to stall then the source can "absolutely promise" that the club will stay in the city of Liverpool’s boundaries and a move could be achieved "within 5-10 years".
Referring to the failed Kings Dock move, the source says the costs of the project rose from £150million to £190million and the bank were prepared to finance Everton’s share of the cost upward to £60million. But with costs spiraling, a backer pulling out and police concerns over crowd safety in the congested dock area, the plans were scrapped – there was never a pot of cash that could have been transferred to a transfer kitty.
The discussion then turned to the AGM, or more accurately the lack of them, with the club source saying there "there is no legal requirement of any football club to have an AGM for its shareholding" and that in this city "there are passionate fans and well organised fans groups and we believe that some of these meetings became too heated", with the club instead choosing to have an annual shareholders forum.
Later in the show Colin Fitzpatrick, secretary of Keep Everton In Our City (KEOIC), a group formed in order to expose the truth over the doomed Kirkby move in 2007, saw the stopping of AGMs as a slight on organisations such as KEOIC and says the club doesn’t always say the full truth with such matters.
With regards to David Moyes and his contract, it was confirmed that there have been no new developments over a new deal and Bill Kenwright wants Moyes to have the time and space "he deserves" to make his own decision over his future. But, if he did decide he wanted to stay the club would "work 24/7" to make that happen.
Again, these were things we have heard before but you have to credit Collymore for doing what other journalists haven’t done and got some answers. It has brought the subject out there into the open and may have started a crucial momentum shift.
Or, it could just be yet another hysterical reaction to a poor result and things will soon settle down, like it did after the Arteta sale. When it comes to Everton, you just never know.
What are your thoughts on the club’s future? Is the club worth £125million? Is a ground-share the answer? Let us know your thoughts below.