Of course, my girlfriend thought that these tickets were a crap present. That was until I told her what the ‘executive’ part meant. Now of course, with the promise of free drink and a meal she seems to want the invite (by default) for the spare ticket. I’m happy to take her, of course, but first I wanted her to experience the match day ‘atmosphere’ from my normal season ticket seat (Park End). I took her to the Boro game in an attempt to educate her on our great club (I, sadly, wasn’t expecting to have to teach her EVERYTHING about the game!).
Anyway, enough about taking her the match and enduring the stupidity of many questions (like ‘why do you want a win, when a draw is always the fairest result?’)… Just before the kick off, whilst talking about the stadium debacle, the money situation and other conspiracy theories to get her footballing juices flowing, she asked me a question that left me dumbfounded and without an answer with real substance.
She asked me: "Who is famous in Everton? You know, Liverpool have Gerrard and Manchester have that fake tan guy [Ronaldo]... who do Everton have?!" (She also commented on the condition of the stadium, price of catering and state of the facilities.) In a pathetic attempt to make her believe that we had someone famous — I said "Tim Cahill." She gave a blank expression. So I said "Mikel Arteta" — again the blank expression followed by "Just give up — you haven’t got anybody have you!"
Embarrassingly I agreed when the guy next to us piped up "Fellaini – household name that"… It may have had the faithful within earshot in stitches but it actually made me think. Think, unfortunately about the ongoing financial crisis that cripples the club and the complete lack of investors knocking on our door with open cheque books.
Apart from all the obvious arguments (old stadium, debt etc) that hinder our progress, what have we actually got that is even slightly attractive? By that I mean — what assets does our club have? I hate to point to the top four but each of them has a pin up, a shirt seller and a living legend. Liverpool have Gerrard and Torres (every market stall in town has pictures/posters/calendars of that little Spanish shit). United have Ronaldo (before him Beckham and Giggs).
We have nothing. Even Arteta, a flair player (not that we would know given his latest performances) and a guy with a stunning celebrity girlfriend and boyish good looks himself, is not portrayed by the club as the pin up. Cahill has a bit of a bad boy image but the club does not utilise this to make cold hard cash.
Let's face it, Liverpool have such a fan base not only because they win (4th place every year is a bit boring, right?) but they attract every type of fan — the guys wanting to watch football (and their lads) and the girls wanting to watch footballers because they are constantly seeing merchandise of the better looking players. Attracting this many fans gives them a great selling advantage above clubs like ours.
I remember when that lot signed Berger — all the young girls round my way where wearing the shite shirts with his name on it. They couldn’t even name the first team or name the clubs in the Premier League but nevertheless they had parted with their cash for a shirt (and probably a poster or two) of their favourite footballing hunk).
Moving on swiftly, investors must look at clubs in a similar way to my girlfriend, and ask "What and who have they got?" When it comes to Everton, sadly the answer is "not much". Couple that with the asking price and I can only imagine what comments are returned and how much laughing must be had in Keith Harris’s office…
Then that makes me wonder, what kind of ‘deal broker’ would take on mission impossible? Or am I overlooking something here? Is fifth place a good enough position to attract investors? Is the prospect of a new stadium enough pulling power? Is the asking price low? Is the debt more positive than we think? What possibly makes an investment and deal guru like Keith Harris think that he can still find our great club a new owner? Surely it's not the profit from the 300% margins applied to the stadium catering?
Having my girlfriend with me at the game today (although painful at times) gave a view from a new pair of eyes and perspective. Unfortunately her first impressions were embarrassingly true: the club's in a mess. The stadium is a dump, the team has no superstars, and the atmosphere was damp at best. Sad but true.
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