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Where is a White Knight when you need one?

By Christine Foster :  19/11/2008 :  Comments (0) :
So it begins again, the propaganda machine at the club rolls into gear as the Public Inquiry into the Tesco/Kirkby project starts... the doom and gloom, no alternative solution, pro Kirkby movement rumbles on. Is it a last gamble by the club or are we closer to Kirkby than ever?

It's now being hailed as the panacea to a lack of interest in investment, although if we look at Mr Elstone’s comments one has to ask: who is kidding who here? “Everton is one of a very small, elite family of big, substantial, sought-after Premier League clubs," said Elstone.

Well, that’s strange... because no-one appears to be beating down the doors with offers that BK wants to accept are they? Or is it just that there is more to be made from Kirkby for those with vested interests?

If we are so attractive already where is the stumbling block? Does anyone really think moving to Kirkby will make us more attractive to an investor? If a Saudi or a Russian Billionaire wanted the club, do you think Kirkby would make the difference to the deal? As opposed to any other location that is... ANY other location?

"We have a great heritage but we also have a very big, loyal fanbase. Most of the value any investor will seek is within that fanbase, and Everton is right up there among some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League.”

By taking a decision to go to Kirkby, the club are alienating that very same fan base, you know, the thing they are promoting as being a hugely attractive selling point to any new investor... funny strategy that.

“The alternative to the Kirkby project would be for Everton and Liverpool to embark on a joint development and subsequently share the new stadium. But Elstone said any ground-sharing scheme would be less financially viable than Kirkby.”

Given the current and medium term economic climate, the cost of the WHOLE project including the Tesco development has to be placed in doubt. With high unemployment, bankruptcies and low retail sales, where will the return be for the retailer be in all of this? What impact is it likely to have over the retail footprint and cross subsidy and are Tesco footing the extra cost? Right at this minute, Kirkby needs this development like a hole in the head. Right now, the retail sector is shrinking, with deflation being threatened by the PM.

Ok, there is a train of counter thought that says if you can afford it, now is the time to buy things cheap and prosper later, but let's face it, Tesco is now needing EFC much more than EFC needs Tesco. Without the stadium, the development has no chance of being remotely successful in Tesco’s eyes. How are they going to attract the retailers without the lure of the stadium and the fans?

The rationale for Kirkby gets worse every passing day, yet all hopes for ANY future we are told are only to be found in Tesco’s. It's staggeringly stupid. It's incredibly arrogant and totally irrational. But then we are talking about Everton.

"The next six or seven weeks will go a long way to deciding where Everton is in five, 10, 20 years' time," said acting chief executive Robert Elstone. "A new stadium would definitely help us attract a new buyer,"

The end game here is not about the development of a club. It’s the development of the sale of the club. It’s about maximising its financial potential return to investors. In five years time where will BK be? In fact, where will any of the Board be? Sitting in the Director’s Box in Kirkby? I doubt it.

IF the inquiry goes against the development, will we see another vision of the future? Whose I wonder? If the club is forced to rethink its options, where is the credibility of those club officials who have condemned both the alternatives and those supporters who have just as passionately believed that Kirkby wasn’t the right way forward?

They have tried not to make a business case but hide behind one. So the next seven weeks will make or break someone’s vision. Either the club's or a significant body of the supporters.

Where is a White Knight when you need one?

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