Blue Union to resume protests with ‘immediate effect’
Following our statement of March 9th this year, announcing the suspension of any further matchday protest during the 2011/12 season based on significant fan feedback, the Blue Union wishes to update Evertonians as to the aims and objectives of the group going forward, and to once again invite your valued input ahead of what could be a pivotal 2012/13 pre-season and League campaign.
Firstly, looking back briefly on the decision to suspend the “day of protest” that had been planned to take place around the home league fixture against Tottenham Hotspur, we again thank the fans for your input around that time and, with hindsight, acknowledge that the advice we were given was the right advice. We are absolutely certain that it was the correct call to listen to what we were being told and to take the action that we ultimately did. We were heartened greatly by the general reaction of the Everton family in accepting our decision as a genuine one and one taken in the best interests of the TEAM that we all so desperately wish to see succeed. The group exists to represent the fans, and we sincerely hope that our actions reinforced this point. We will continue to listen.
What was also made absolutely clear in our statement of March, however, was that as a group The Blue Union remains totally committed to continuing our campaign for change in terms of the senior management team and ownership of Everton FC, a change that we believe is essential in safeguarding both the present and the future of our club.
Whilst David Moyes once again did an admirable – some might say incredible – job in achieving a very respectable 7th place league finish and an FA Cup semi-final with one hand tied behind his back in 2012, it is a fact that the financial situation at the club remains a precarious one. All the signs are that once again the manager is going to be forced to operate on a ‘sell-to-buy-with-a-limited-percentage-of-the-proceeds’ strategy this summer, and whilst it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility that David Moyes will once again manage to turn wine from water and keep the club afloat, we consider this modus operandi to be completely unacceptable, unsustainable and ultimately of potentially disastrous consequence.
Prior to the start of last season, as has been the pattern for a number of years now, the manager was asked to take a squad into the opening league fixtures that was significantly lacking in terms of depth, creativity, goal-threat and, crucially, belief and morale. All of these issues being the direct result of on-going key player sales and a subsequent lack of investment, or even re-investment of realised transfer proceeds. We have seen the result of this situation, season, after season, after season.
Quite simply, we say it has to stop. The situation has to change.
With each passing year that the club operates on this basis, the hole we are digging gets deeper. The risk we are running becomes greater. The force behind the manager, that will ultimately drive him into the arms of a club with greater resource and ambition than ours, gets stronger.
We now propose to our supporters that the peaceful protests resume with immediate effect. The pressure needs to be cranked up, the tough questions once again need to be asked, and the custodians of OUR football club need to be held to account on their performance of the previous decades, a ‘performance’ that is seeing us fall further and further away from the Premier League elite with each passing season.
Let us remind ourselves; Manchester City, Champions of England from ‘new’ money. Chelsea, Champions of Europe and FA Cup winners from ‘new’ money. Arsenal and Manchester United, two clubs who have attracted takeovers coupled with significant self-generated wealth derived from continued investment in infrastructure, continue to compete at the top. Tottenham Hotspur, enjoying the benefit of consistent investment from backers along with the fruits of some exceptionally lucrative sponsorship agreements. The list goes on.
We, as a collective, find the acceptance in some quarters that Everton “can’t compete” with these clubs to be extremely sad and unacceptable. Let us remind ourselves that, despite a lack of tangible success over the last 20 years, this football club remains one of THE biggest football clubs in the country. Biggest in terms of success, biggest in terms of heritage, biggest in terms of global recognition, biggest in terms of some of the legends that have graced our colours and, most importantly of all…biggest in terms of support. As Evertonians, we believe that it is our duty to do all we can in attempting to ensure that the club is once again able to compete with the best and at very least halt the financial mismanagement that is inevitably going to lead to our manager running out of miracles at some point in the non-too-distant future.
The most recent annual accounts released by the club towards the end of last year clearly highlighted an operating loss of circa £5 million per annum, this despite the sale of a number of first-team players as well as that of our last tangible bricks-and-mortar asset, the former training HQ at Bellefield. Without the Bellefield sale, it could be surmised that this loss would have been closer to £15m in reality. We now call on the club to introduce a short, medium and long term business plan to reverse these negative results and to improve revenue streams in a clear and coherent way.
It is this off field performance – a clear failure in the club’s management strategy and of the directors that oversee its implementation – that is crippling us in terms of any attempts to redevelop Goodison Park, to look at relocating to a new stadium and, crucially, compete in the transfer market. The early season form of last year and subsequent upturn in fortunes following the January additions of Gibson and Jelavic are clear evidence that investing in the squad and allowing the manager to replace those players that he has sold is of paramount importance. It was another season, one in a long line, of us asking “what could have been”…perhaps with even ‘moderate’ financial support for the manager.
One of our key objectives as a group has always been to try and communicate our message and the reasons behind our actions to the Evertonian family in a way that is clear, concise and open to response. We feel that it can do no harm to restate that message now, particularly given the way in which our cause seems to be continually misrepresented by certain individuals on various online fans forums and social network channels.
The Blue Union are totally opposed to selling the club to the first or just ‘any’ individual or group who shows an interest in purchase, which is a commonly peddled fallacy. Our view is, and always has been, that the search for new ownership and the subsequent decision on who the club should be sold to should be taken out of the hands of the current board of directors, a board who, it shouldn’t be forgotten, are adamant that the club IS for sale.
Over a period of a decade, this is a board who have FAILED to secure investment, FAILED to find a buyer, and have consistently failed to deliver schemes that they had previously heralded as ‘deliverable’ and ‘viable’.
We now call on the board of directors to place on public record a statement of intent outlining the sale process, with caveat to protect the history and traditions of Everton Football Club’s past and its vision for the future.
Quite simply, we don’t believe that they are honest in their words or their intentions, and we most certainly don’t believe that there is “no better salesman for Everton than Bill Kenwright”.
In place of them – assuming of course that they are genuine in their intention to sell the club – we would like to see the appointment of a fully autonomous group of professionals with the sole remit of finding new ownership for Everton – an ownership that can demonstrate a viable plan to secure the financial and cultural future of our club.
We are consistently told – coincidentally at times when the pressure is building – that there is significant interest in purchasing the club and that Bill Kenwright is “usually talking to 3 or 4 parties”.
Our message to the fans is this; enough is enough. Nothing has changed in terms of the financial predicament of the club. Nothing has moved forward in terms of finding a solution to deliver a modern fit-for-purpose facility through which we can increase matchday revenue streams. Nothing has changed in terms of the spin, disdain and pure contempt aimed towards the fans from the senior management team outlined by the hacked and leaked email scandal which rocked the club in November. Nothing has changed in terms of finding the new owners or investment that we are expected to believe that our Chairman has desperately been seeking for the last 10 years. Or was it 5? Or maybe 3? You can excuse us for being confused, because the number changes all the time depending on who is making the claim and whether it fits the agenda of the time, i.e placating the fans or placating the questions of a public inquiry.
Nothing will ever change unless the fans come together and show a courage and unity to do something about these things and demand better.
Last season we made a start, and progress was made. Media coverage increased, tough questions were asked and the board felt the heat. This season we need to step our protests up, in size and frequency, and we need to let our voices be heard louder than ever; “It’s time for change”.
The options are clear; we can sit quietly on our hands and sleep well on our claims that we are ‘better’ than fans of other clubs who are known to protest, or we can do something about it.
We can stand by and watch Bill Kenwright once again sell off the team’s prized assets to subsidise his ownership of Everton FC, whilst waiting on a circa £150m offer that would realise his board in excess of £100m PROFIT…or we can do something about it.
The choices are yours. We want to protest, we want to protest bigger, louder and prouder than ever…but we can only do it with the fans behind us and with a significant commitment of all involved.
As we approach the first ‘anniversary’ of The Blue Union’s inception, one thing that has become apparent is that ‘The People’s Club’ have demonstrated beyond any doubt that they are not, nor ever will be under the current custodians, ‘The Listening Club’. In light of this, we are left with no other option or alternative but to resume our fight to rid our club of the managed decline and failures that have blighted the current board’s tenure.
We urge all Evertonians to ‘Stand Together’ with us as we seek to lift our fabulous football club back up to where it belongs at the peak of British football.
The Blue Union