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Is Everton For Sale?

By John Hughes :  01/12/2009 :  Comments (27) :
The notion that buying a football club is not like buying any other business is utter crap because buying a football club is no different for a business man. However, to slightly contradict this comment, I don’t think for one second the Man City owner is looking to make money; he’s a different type of buyer. I’ll touch on this a bit later on.

I’ll be asking the questions and providing my opinion on what should be happening, I don’t have the answers to most of them but the questions are there and you can test them with your own knowledge of the situation if you wish? Anyway… • Value the business
• Take steps to increase its value
• Identifying potential buyers
• Marketing the business

It could be argued that Kirkby was Everton’s way of taking steps to increase the club's value; however, the public enquiry did nothing to put a positive spin on the prospect and therefore the marketing element of the above was deeply flawed. This showed a lack of foresight and damaged relations with the customer base. Not a good effort when you’re trying to sell your business.

Do you remember Michael Owen's PR Company issuing a brochure on everything he’s achieved and is capable of going forward? What did that do for Michael Owen? Got him a move to the biggest football club in the world — that’s what it did. So it worked for him. Have Everton compiled a similar brochure for prospective buyers? I don’t know but maybe someone out there can let me know...

To me it is a pre-requisite to marketing a company to have a brochure telling anyone that will listen how good you were, how good you are, and how much better you’re going to be. Everton’s brochure should contain all of the above with a piece on history, achievements so far, and aspirations going forward.

Now what will all prospective buyers want to know?

> Firstly, they will want to know the price: how much are you asking for the business. Then he’ll want to value the business himself. So how will he do that? He’ll look at:

• The history of the business
• Its current performance (sales, turnover, profit)
• Its financial situation (cash flow, debts, expenses, assets)
• Any outstanding litigation the company is in which might affect the business

After he’s convinced himself that this is the right business for him, he’ll want to understand:

• Its relationship with suppliers
• The value of goodwill
• The value of licences
• Intellectual property
• He’ll want to talk with the current owner
• He’ll want to know why the business is for sale

Some of his other considerations will be assets, stock, location, premises, products, what other similar businesses have sold for, the competition, employees, who the debtors are, who the creditors are; all of the above will enable a buyer to make a decision on how much he thinks the business is worth. 99 times out of 100 he will value it lower than the current owner but hey that’s always going to happen.

Everything mentioned above needs to happen for a business to be sold to another person. That new “owner” is only going to buy a business he believes will make him money. How much money it has to make will depend on what a particular buyer wants out of it. One thing for me though is, if Everton Football Club is truly for sale, shouldn’t they be making the purchase of Everton Football Club as easy as possible for a potential buyer? Certainly with the demise of Kirkby, one obstacle to the purchase (“outstanding litigation”) has been removed from the process.

This brings me to my title question — Is Everton for sale?

Bill Kenwright has said publicly that Everton need a billionaire. So Bill’s obviously identified the potential owner as one of an elite group of people, which fulfills one criterion for selling a business in that he’s identified potential buyers!

I don’t know how Bill has marketed Everton, if indeed he ever has, so I’ll assume he hasn’t and therefore this needs to be addressed if he’s looking to sell and creating a brochure is a step in the right direction there.

I don’t recall ever seeing a valuation of Everton either? So again, assuming there is no valuation, this is something that needs to be addressed.

Increasing the value of the club is something that definitely needs addressing, the Kirkby attempt failed drastically as mentioned above and now something needs to be done. For me, increasing the value of the club (short term) comes from the upkeep and presentation of Goodison Park. If you are looking to move house, you would decorate and get rid of all the crap out of the yard wouldn’t you? Cut the grass and maybe spend a few grand on putting a loft conversion or conservatory in to increase the chance of a sale. Well that’s exactly what Everton need to do.

Invest in Goodison — doesn’t have to be totally redeveloped, spend £5m on a new roof for the Main Stand to eradicate loads of obstructed view seats or add that extra tier on the Park End... this will show potential buyers that your business can pay its way because the current owner is spending money on it to improve it.

By not spending a penny on Goodison, the current board have sent out a message to any potential buyer that the club's not worth buying. It’s the strongest message you can give… speculate (within your means) to accumulate. In this instance, improve Goodison to encourage a buyer.

I’ve gone on a bit there but there is that “other” type of buyer… the Man City type buyer. Certainly City had a new ground given to them by the council for a nominal rent but they’ve had two billionaire owners in 3 seasons. The new owners have spent nearly half a billion in buying the club and player acquisition. Is the new Man City owner ever going to recoup that money? NO!!!

Is there another like him out there and do we really want one to buy us??? I don’t know! What I do know is that Man City owners occupy less than one percent of the potential buying market. Maybe something needs to be done — change the scope of the potential buyers profile to encourage more interest?

Reader Comments

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Steve Hogan
1   Posted 01/12/2009 at 21:14:36

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So Michael Owen got his move to Manchester United because Alex Ferguson liked what he read in the PR brochure???

C’mon get real please.
Victor Johnson
2   Posted 01/12/2009 at 21:20:07

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Hi John

Fair question but I think the answer to whether we are in fact for sale is a mystery wrapped in an enigma within a riddle. That said your search for an answer could do worse than start hereabouts ...

http://www.moneyweek.com/news-and-charts/keith-harris-footballs-mr-fixit-14144.aspx
Victor Johnson
3   Posted 01/12/2009 at 21:27:13

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that’s to say that its rather a question of networks
Brendan McLaughlin
4   Posted 01/12/2009 at 21:33:19

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Sorry but the suggestion that SAF bought Michael Owen on the basis of a glossy brochure is quite simply ridiculous.
Ciarán McGlone
5   Posted 01/12/2009 at 23:09:23

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Your Micky Owen brochure aside..a reasonable article...

This club’s been neglected from owners increasing 8its value for some time....The basic approach to any business..

I was quite astounded when asked a question recently..’why should an owner invewst in a football club’ - quite simply it does one of two things..either increases its value or increases revenue streams...

The failure to add even some modest value to this club has been the biggest failing of the current encumbents,,,’ahhh, but we’ve no money’ I hear you say...

That’s when savvy and imagination come in...

God forbid we actually show some inovation or initiative.
Chad Schofield
6   Posted 02/12/2009 at 00:11:55

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Ah yes, Keith Harris... I forgot that I made this:


Our value has increased because of the placings Moyes and the team have acheived in the face of lack of any additional investment - if we hadn’t got the money for Rooney how fucked would we be?

Surely our price will have peaked because without the we all know that Moyes has been producing wonders with the resources really. Without the "next level" investment our squad and management will disband, for trophies and/or fatter salaries, and the club’s value will fall.

Bill believes the hype he surrounds himself with and likes nothing more than to busk in the limelight regaling journos about the old days and he and Moyes’ Butch Cassidie & The Sundance Kid routines (perhaps Plan B is stadium in Bolivia?).

The cracks are steadily increasing, but Wild Bill’s unlikely to go down without a bigger blaze of glory than Kirkby.

So in answer to your question, I’d say no.
Dan Brierley
7   Posted 02/12/2009 at 03:59:59

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So the financial results are in, and we made a £6.3 million loss even though our turnover was nearly £80 million (a record for the club). Keeping in mind we spent very little, its shows quite clearly why we have not been bought.

Who in their right mind would buy a business that makes a loss in its most successful year? The way this season is going, next year is going to see us deep in the shit. DK was the only available method of trying to redress that balance, and turn losses into profit. This is why I had no shame in supporting it.

We can only guess at what will happen if we have 2 or 3 seasons of poor turnover. The only assets we have are the players themselves. If the banks come knocking, then I would not be suprised to see us in a similar positon to Portsmouth.

Alan Williams
8   Posted 02/12/2009 at 07:58:24

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John, I get your post and understand what you are trying to say.

Football is a business officially but morally and ethically it has different rules and a restricted client base (for some). EFC on paper is worth around £50/60 million in my calculations based on current share price but as we are a private company this figure can change for different reasons, mainly goodwill value. So if somebody was interested in taking control of the club then its value is basically what the major shareholders will sell for which could be anything depending on supply & demand. Unless you are privileged to hold such substantial shares then we can only speculate as to the reasons of none sale.

EFC has been flirting for investment/buyer for well over 10 years now both through agents (Mr Harris) and financial houses in the City with little or no success. My opinion is based on the business model in that EFC in Premier League standing is an inferior product.

We have a parochial support (but loyal) and no identifiable brand/location. We market ourselves in this way too, “If you know your History” and “People's Club” — all correct and very proud of what we are but as a brand substandard; add to this an old ground that doesn’t generate sufficient revenue to pay the bills let alone compete with the top half of Premier League teams then the reasons are very clear.

We are up for sale but sadly, unless somebody has the love we have then are only hope is a very wealthy benefactor who wants to buy in to the dream. I and everybody else wishes that person/investment company would make themselves known very soon otherwise we will have to sell players to generate revenue, the balance sheets confirms this. COYB

Richard Dodd
9   Posted 02/12/2009 at 09:01:55

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Talk about teaching Grandma to suck eggs? Don’t yo think all the steps you advocate have already been taken by the myriad of ’advisers’ BB has had on the job? I know for a fact that they have because they are all top professionals in their field.

The answer to your headline question is EITHER

(a) If the price is right and that means covering the directors’ investment AND taking responsibility for all outstanding loans AND proving funds are available to build a new ground, then a SALE can be agreed. Bloody unlikely in the present climate, I’d say.

OR (b): If not but there is someone who wants to kick-start that process via a cash infusion then that investor would be welcome. Otherwise, it’s business as usual, I’m glad to say!

Ciarán McGlone
10   Posted 02/12/2009 at 10:29:17

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’DK was the only available method of trying to redress that balance, and turn losses into profit.’
---------------------

Two years of asking people like you to explain this fallacy, without intelligent reply...and still the penny hasn’t dropped.

Marc Williams
11   Posted 02/12/2009 at 10:33:03

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Richard & all the other apologists PLEASE tell me how the club is actually for sale!!!

Kenwright is looking for INVESTMENT so he can STEP ASIDE (whatever that means in reality) this is what he re-iterated the other day. This is a lot different from actually looking to SELL the club.

I think I’ll try & do the same thing with my house. I’ll employ an estate agent & advertise in the media, to the uninitiated it’ll appear it’s for sale. However, in reality I’ll want £180,000 for a house independently valued at £100,000 at most.
The buyer (whoops, sorry — investor/ gullible fool) won’t get to own my house for that but I will move aside & just live upstairs for him.

Funny thing is I reckon I could work 24/7 on this idea BUT doubt anyone would be foolish enough to fall for it.

Dan Brierley
12   Posted 02/12/2009 at 11:22:44

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My apologies Ciaran, but I don't want to have to explain again why GP is not up to the task, and how much better DK would have been. We will never know now, so it's pointless to discuss it.

It's over now, we are stuck with GP for the foreseeable future, and also stuck with the poor revenue it generates. The £6.3 million loss on a record turnover is the reality that those of us who supported the ground move saw. I really cannot say what the damage of minimum another 5 years at GP is going to do to us.
Dan Brierley
13   Posted 02/12/2009 at 11:31:30

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Marc, so you are saying if somebody offered £100 million for EFC, they wouldn’t take it? You are talking shite..........
Christine Foster
14   Posted 02/12/2009 at 11:32:46

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Doom and Gloom. You know guys everything has its price. EFC is no exception. The moot point about investment versus sale can go on forever, why would an investor come in and not a buyer?

Is it realistic to expect anyone to put in a substantial investment in return for what??

I doubt it, it's more realistic that a buyer offers a price that the directors are loath to accept. If the deal is right and if the potential buyer has the business acumen to maximise our brand then in a few years the purchase could be well worth the effort.

It's finding the right person and getting the club at the right price to make it work. For BK I think the train has left the station.

Who has the Vision, the money and is shrewd enough to do it? Sir Richard Branson anyone?
John Hughes
15   Posted 02/12/2009 at 11:47:13

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John - Are you a printer by any chance? If so, I might need some brochures doing early in the new year!
Gavin Ramejkis
16   Posted 02/12/2009 at 11:50:44

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Doddy how much have these "top people in their fields" milked from Everton FC not to point out the fucking obvious that DK was doomed as it flagrantly ignored rules and regulations? How much have these superheroes advised Black Bill to ignore Capital of Culture until it had finished before opening a City Centre presence? How much have these demi-gods claimed in fees to market the club in it’s most successful league placings in nearly a decade and constant entry to European football?

Come on, Comical Dodd, those aren’t the American tanks outside, surely not?
Jon Gorman
17   Posted 02/12/2009 at 12:44:50

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£6.3M loss despite a record turnover of nearly £80M.

And still people criticise BK for not being ambitous when it comes to signing players. At GP we have reached a financial glass ceiling. That is why he championed DK so vehemently.

Kirkby was a rare oppourtunity to vastly improve the infrastructure and subsequently the money making ability of the club. Not perfect, but a rare oppourtunity nonetheless.

We are not being run incompetently at all. We have been in the recent past but since BK took the reigns we have been one of the best run clubs in the country.

If a BK-hater has a real solution to our current financial plight then please post it, and we can have a rational debate.

If you want to insist on calling for him to sell to buyers who never, publically at least, reveal their existence, you probably shouldn't bother.
Barry Kermode
18   Posted 02/12/2009 at 13:31:12

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Fab Macca
Chad Schofield
19   Posted 02/12/2009 at 13:31:19

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http://www.cabe.org.uk/design-review/kirkby-masterplan

http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/everton-fc/everton-fc-news/2008/04/30/government-advisor-attacks-everton-stadium-plan-64375-20839740/

further clarifyies that this is not being misquoted.

The board ploughed vast sums of time and money into this. They lied to the fans to try and push this through. They threatened to sue those who spoke out against them (http://www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk/everton-fc/everton-fc-news/2008/04/02/everton-threatens-to-sue-keioc-for-defamation-64375-20705568/). They entered into an exclusivity deal which railroaded us towards this - and whilst it wasan opportunity to improove infrustructure, the towns infrastructure was an after thought. They have finally increased marketing after Bill said that "only Newcastle fans buy shirts". Bill has been scouring 24/7 for investment without wanting to dillute the shareholding. Kenwright fucked up Kings Dock because he didn’t want to let go of his trainset - which truly would have been a "rare oppourtunity to vastly improve the infrastructure". We’ve just posted an operating loss after Bill’s attention was deflected elsewhere... so I ask you Jon, do you stnad by your statement that "We are not being run incompetantly at all"? Really?
Chad Schofield
20   Posted 02/12/2009 at 13:59:04

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I don’t even hate Bill, but I’m seriously beginning not to like him.
John Hughes
21   Posted 02/12/2009 at 14:32:17

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Ok the Michael Owen Brochure analogy wasn’t the best to use on here with you lot but, before it was issued to all of the Premier League managers, he didn’t even appear on United's radar so actually the brochure might've helped.....?

I’m not saying I am right in this article... I am asking a question. Pull the article apart if you want, that’s why it’s there, but it is asking a question. If we are not for sale then why don’t the club say so? If we are for sale, why don’t the club say so? Clarity is required for once! Thanks for the comments.
Jamie Rowland
22   Posted 02/12/2009 at 15:13:52

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’Some of his other considerations will be assets, stock, location, premises, products,’

--------------------------

You must mean the ’main considerations will be...’
A football club is nothing without its assets - which are its players.
Everton FC is not worth a carrot while it operates at a loss. Amortisation of player registrations ... please... smells of a dodge.

Simple - Investor will look at whether the club can warrant its price AND pay its creditors. He will look at it two ways (and should never combine the two) - one is operating profit - can that pay for the club and its debt (answer no). Then he will look at the assets - can that pay the clubs price and its debt (answer...hmmm...maybe just?)...then, given that he is happy with at least one set of figures, he then asks whether or not it can make money. Football doesn’t make money - but its a great place to hide money and not pay tax. A Fayed for example has Fulham running at a debt that it will NEVER pay back...why? because he can pump directors loans in and take regular repayments to shave the tax bill...its surely the only attraction for any businessman. Football doesn’t make money.
Gavin Ramejkis
23   Posted 02/12/2009 at 16:00:03

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Jon Gorman, can you please supply the figures on how DK would have helped financially? The whole thing was a massive gamble. The capacity was reduced from the original plans due to a lack of transport/access capability - how would that generate income? The off field concert capabilities were thrown out by KMBC - how would that produce more income? KMBC demanded exclusive significant use of the stadium for it’s own use at no extra cost - how is that generating more income for the club? The monies borrowed to pay for the project - how is debt generating extra income for the club?

The arguments for the stadium providing an extra income faded with the lies the club provided with the original ballot and it’s former CEO and the Chief Exec of Tesco; World Class Stadium....... most accessible stadium in the country....... ability to hold concerts and other money making schemes....... the tumbleweed is rolling past and church bells tolling.

Even with capacities the club dreamt of they forecast £6m per year to buy players, this probably barely covers wage rises for existing players signing new contracts let alone replacing any or adding to our already miniscule squad.
Dan Brierley
24   Posted 03/12/2009 at 00:50:13

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Gavin, so what do you suggest? And can you explain how it is going to generate more than 6 million per year, and who is going to pay for it?
Jay Harris
25   Posted 03/12/2009 at 04:05:15

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One of the main reasons we cant make a profit on 80 million income is BK has mortgaged anything that moves and the interest payments are eating into profits.

We also have the costs of the exclusivity agreement and all that went with it on a half baked ill conceived notion that was not researched properly by EFC amounting to about 4 million over the last 2 years.

Now you bright sparks are advocating that borrowing 80 to 100 million for Kirkby would have produced an extra 6 million a year profit.

Dont make me laugh.

If you’ve learned nothing from Kenwrights regime it should be that the only way he ever makes a profit is by selling a "Rooney" and not replacing him.
Marc Williams
26   Posted 03/12/2009 at 09:05:07

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Dan Brierley, I may very well be talking shite (as you so eloquently put it) BUT if you ’watch this space’ for long enough for the truth to eventually come out, that is indeed what I am suggesting was the case, certainly until DK was rejected.
Gavin Ramejkis
27   Posted 03/12/2009 at 09:53:17

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Dan how about three missed boats for starters?

Capital of Culture - massive influx of touristrs to the city and we had zero presence in the city centre, how much merchandising sales losses did we make over those 12 months?

European qualification for the last few years and yet if you want some merchandising you are better going to stalls like that outside the church or next to the ground on a match day as the club didn’t bother

Two Wembley appearances last year, merchandising was available nearly everywhere except from the club itself

We are a fucking shambles, if you can’t even identify opportunities like that which you know about months in advance then how do you think the rest of the club is being ran?

Does anyone with any acumen besides toeing BK’s line work at the club? Marketing is just one small part, as has been pointed out far too many times the ONLY thing the club actually owns are the player’s contracts and that is the ONLY part of the business making a profit through selling players.

Come on Dan, enlighten us with how DK would make us so much money we should have gone for it, tell us how the debt incurred with regard to the gamble of projected attendance versus actual attendance would guarantee paying that debt. Do you have a list of corporates queueing up to take boxes at Everton when they can’t even sell what little they have now should they move to an inaccessible stadium in Kirkby?

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