I am having a midweek break in Liverpool and taking a stroll around Kings Dock, taking in the splendour of our world-class football ground. Sponsored by some name I can’t get my tongue around but never mind, it brings in millions.

The ground has changed from its opening in 2003, from a 55,000 all-seater with retractable pitch and fully closing roof to a now 65,000 all-seater. It is full for every game. We are one of the "Big 6" and have won many trophies over the past 12 years. We were taken over in 2011 by a Middle Eastern consortium and we have moved on from being competitive to serial winners across all fronts.

Interestingly, our owners had heard about us and first saw our magnificent ground while flying into Liverpool. This provoked their interest and the rest is history. When darkness descends, the stadium is lit up in Everton Blue and can be seen from miles around and, apparently, it is a sight to behold when flying into town. There is a cruise liner berthed today alongside the ground – more people for the ground tour, merchandise, and maybe a coffee or a drink.

I think I will have a drink myself. There are a few choices but I think I will go into “Bill’s" – named after our former Chairman and majority shareholder. It is interesting thinking about Bill Kenwright because, without his selfless decision, the Kings Dock project may never have happened. A true Evertonian (as he never tires of telling everyone) even he has his faults.

Bill had formed a company, True Blue Holdings, to take control of the club in 1999. The Consortium consisted of Kenwright, Paul Gregg, Jimmy Mulville, Jon Woods and Willy Russell and they held 68% of the shares. Interestingly Bill borrowed money from his good friend Paul Gregg's wife, Anita.

He had persuaded Paul Gregg to join him in buying Everton, a man who had no real interest in football or Everton but was a pretty good businessman and probably saw business opportunities in the proposed new stadium.

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Bill was really flying at his time and Evertonians loved a true supporter running the club. "Well, what could be better?" Bill was quoted as saying. "To run a successful football club, you need two qualities: you need to be realistic and you need a plan. I’m realistic and I have a plan."

After acquiring Peter Johnson’s shares, he further said, “This is only the first step to restoring a great club to where it belongs and to where it should be.” All music to Evertonian ears.

Well, things became a bit tricky with the stadium as £30 million was required for Everton's share and, despite Bill saying the money was ring-fenced, it seemingly wasn’t quite the case. Fortunately for Bill, his good friend Paul Gregg had a plan or two.

Bill didn’t appear to quite have a plan for the £30 million. Gregg had the idea of a reverse mortgage or (I am no financial expert) bringing in new investors to take control, with Everton buying it back over 10 years. Gregg claimed that, without Kings Dock, the club would die. According to Deloitte & Touché and KPMG, even if Everton were relegated and suffered crowds of 20,000 for 3 years, it was feasible.

A big decision was needed. Gregg was a serious business brain so he would not want to be involved in a failure and lose money. Kenwright would lose some control or maybe a lot of control of his big dream. This is where Bill Kenwright became the “big man” and an Everton Legend by agreeing to Gregg's plan but losing part of what was dear to him – running Everton Football Club. A truly selfless act. 

Things were a bit tight initially but the club has more than thrived. Everton became the pre-eminent club in Liverpool. Our rivals at Anfield are stuck in a tight area and, although developing their ground, it is light years behind ours. Their team were just knocked out of the FA Cup and their ageing midfield means they need replacing. 

Given the way football is now run, they are in a perpetual cycle of rebuilding. Their team consists of journeyman professionals, youngsters and over-the-hill but once good players. If they get anybody decent, clubs like ours contact the agent and usually they become unsettled and even stop training to force a move. It must be depressing for them.

We are pretty much unassailable – what with our ground, worldwide profile and incredible sponsorship deals. So much to thank Bill for and that selfless decision he made all those years ago.

We were involved in a bit of a protectionist racket a few years ago when it looked possible that other teams may bring in investors and threaten the Big 6 cartel. The six clubs hatched a plan – the Profitability and Sustainability rules. (Uefa had stitched things up for us in Europe with the Financial Fair Play rules.)

I still can’t work out how they became Premier League rules and the stakeholders believed they were truly benefiting to all clubs. Could they not see it was a protectionist and putting in a glass ceiling for aspiration? Anyway, if we ran into any problems, we just brought in our band of legal experts and the authorities ran a mile. 

I have possibly digressed from Liverpool’s problems a little as I feel somewhat sorry for them when they see our success and the foresight of our Board of Directors all those years ago and our new owners taking our club to exceptional levels.

They are not too happy with their owners who appear happy just to be in the Premier League and show little expertise on the business front. Maybe they should look at how “Everton do things”? A trip into the centre of Liverpool must be no fun for them either when they see our ground. Well, you can’t miss it. And the concerts it hosts!

I am enjoying the coffee and, from my seat, I can see the lounge, “Bills Pen”, where our former Chairman now entertains his guests, with stories from the entertainment world, his years when running Everton, and how his decisions and expertise were a foundation for where we are today. How many hands must he shake?

Well I guess I am allowed to dream… I did start supporting Everton in 1968. Am I unrealistic? Could it, should it have been different?

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Reader Comments (19)

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Dennis Stevens
1 Posted 02/02/2023 at 19:17:06
And then you fall out of bed and wake up to the nightmare of our reality, Barry!
Simon Harrison
2 Posted 02/02/2023 at 20:07:35
Brilliant piece, Barry, and something that I never stop thinking about. Maybe, not to this extent, but...

I wonder if the Greggs said, "Et tu, Bill!"

Oh, and if there is ever going to a bar/restaurant in that 'pipe-dream', it would never be 'Bill's'; it should be 'Carter's'.

Lee Courtliff
3 Posted 02/02/2023 at 20:42:23
My fantasy along these lines is where I'm the most prodigious of 16 Yr old talents who breaks into the Everton first team when we're in a dire relegation battle, like last season and this.

I inspire the team to safety and everyone is awestruck by this teenage boy who looks like he could become the complete footballer. Imagine the pace of Kanchelskis, the drive of Roy Keane, the physical presence of Patrick Viera and the goalscoring ability of a Frank Lampard with all the technique in the world!

Everybody expects me to leave to join Madrid or another CL team but I pledge my undying devotion to my club and eventually lead us to Glory and almost single handedly turn us into the most dominant team in the history of the game!

In the end, they all have to surrender because they just can't beat us... we're too good...we're Everton!!

Dennis Stevens
4 Posted 02/02/2023 at 21:18:22
If I had the billions to buy the Club & complete the stadium there'd be no mention of Kenwright anywhere. I might let Greggs do the pies though!
Paul Kossoff
5 Posted 02/02/2023 at 23:45:03
Great read Barry. Like you I'm a fantasist, dreaming of the day when we are top of the tree and the red shite are were we are,I dream on.
Paul Birmingham
6 Posted 03/02/2023 at 00:08:45
Briliant Barry, that’s life..

I recall the days, I woke up some times thinking I'm in work, and I wasn’t., and was on a weekend off, or on leave.

Crackers, in decades gone by, and I am still now. Get the ducts, cables in and jointed etc..

But EFC, was and still is the first check point, each day, after Family.


Derek Thomas
7 Posted 03/02/2023 at 07:02:57
Barry, yes it could've been different. Think of time as a pair of trousers and you as the ferret ( no offence - stick with me).

Each time the ferret makes a decision and dives down one leg of the trousers, one reality takes place and one never happens.

Then imagine an infinite pyramid of trousers on top of each other; 1, 2, 4, 8, 16 etc ad infinitum.

Anyway in None of those infinite realities is Kenwright ever giving up one iota of control.

Nice effort by the way.

Edit; in hindsight, one trousers leg we should never have dived down is the one we're we didn't pay the rent Increase in 1892.

Derek Knox
8 Posted 03/02/2023 at 08:07:03
Barry, well put together but whether fictitious or reality the sheer mention of this lying parasite, invokes a vomiting reaction in me, if he was a true Blue, we would never be in the position we are in, and he wouldn't have so much personal wealth (ill-gotten mostly). Sorry to put any possible dampers on your piece, but I am only speaking the truth, it's a pity that facility is alien to Kenwright.
Rob Hooton
9 Posted 03/02/2023 at 09:02:51
Haha, lovely pipe dream and thanks for making me smile at what might have been.

Derek - Dr Strange went forward in time and looked at 15 billion different possibilities, in not one of them did Bill relinquish control.

Rob Halligan
10 Posted 03/02/2023 at 09:17:54
Derek, he’s not a true blue, the biggest Evertonian of them all. He wouldn’t know what it’s like in standard class of a train, or facing ten hours of a coach journey to Bournemouth and back, in the space of four days. Or being terrorised at European away games such as Fiorentina, having to face water cannons operated by a line of baton wielding police, or Hadjuk Split where some fans literally were in fear of serious injury. The list of what he’s never had to endure goes on, so don’t let anyone ever ever be taken in by “The Greatest Evertonian of them all”

Then again, maybe he is, because he had to suffer standing in the Boys Pen, but even that could be a myth! Lying bastard!


Derek Knox
11 Posted 03/02/2023 at 09:38:13
Rob, I have long suspected he was a closet RS, and only a ' pseudo blue' to be 'accepted' but the underlying motive is purely greed, money, power and control. There was a post not long ago by someone who doesn't normally submit, basically that he used to work for a Multi-Millionaire as Chaffeur, and general factotum, he was present when Kenwright (on the other end of the phone) was trying to raise funding for The King's Dock Project, with a position on the Board. That person replied that he would be interested from an Investment position, but didn't think that the Supporters, would be happy about having Two Reds on it (Everton Board) !
Trevor Powell
12 Posted 03/02/2023 at 09:42:17
Lee @ 3, I am still having the same dream and the age of 70!!!! The only differences are that firstly I would demand a clause of £5 miillion for every goal I scored given to local charities!

Secondly, I would not waste my energy or risk injury playing for Engand and I certainly would not shake the hand and kow-tow to the most bland future monarch of all time, pretending to be interested in football and yet seems to get a position at the FA.

I remember him sitting next to his adulterous father in 1995, when neither of them realised EFC had beaten Manure and them trying to give Steve Bruce the FA Cup! There were a few clues the fact that Manure had not won, eg the hordes in red silently streaming out of the stadium, a huge socreboard congratulating EFC, the singing and joyous dancing at the 'Blue End' and of course the big clue actually watching the game itself.

I hope that if I was that good that all my footballing efforts would be soley for the BLES!

Mark Murphy
13 Posted 03/02/2023 at 09:46:42
Georgie Best told a story about Bill Kenwright in his autobiography that read

"...three days before the opening (of the play Zigger Zagger) Bill Kenwright, a former National Youth Theatre member and avid Liverpool fan walked in and declared in hurt disbelief - You have not used the song of the Kop - You'll Never Walk Alone..."

This was the mid-sixties. Does anyone remember a large for his age luvvie like lad in the Boys Pen in the '70s?

Peter Neilson
14 Posted 03/02/2023 at 10:03:18
Mark - the book is still available.
Can be previewed here and skip to Chapter 2 Page 81.
Derek Thomas
15 Posted 03/02/2023 at 10:16:48
Derek Knox @ 11;
Via GOT: Carlito; December 31, 2013

"Years ago I read George Best's autobiography, Scoring at Half-time: Adventures on and off the Pitch, and laughed to myself when it talked about Kenwright's football allegiances. It's not something I've ever brought up on the forums before now, but given the turn this thread has taken I thought it'd be interesting to provide an excerpt:

'As far as I remember, Bill's ticket (besides plenty of the folding stuff) was his lifelong love of Everton. Therefore imagine my surprise while thumbing through an old book about the making of a famous 1960s play called Zigger Zagger when my eyes fell on the following passage:

...three days before the opening Bill Kenwright, a former National Youth Theatre member and avid Liverpool fan, walked in and declared in hurt disbelief: "You have not used the song of the Kop - You'll Never Walk Alone."

Was there another young actor walking around the North-West in the mid-1960s by the name of Bill Kenwright? Had the author got it wrong? Who knows?' (Chapter 2, Page 81)

Nick Page
16 Posted 03/02/2023 at 10:33:26
Barry, that’s one of the best, funniest and also saddest articles I’ve read on TW. “Bill’s Pen”… ahahahahaha. Superb. Well done.

It really was as easy as you say but all he ever wanted was control, and a stage to put himself on and stay on so he could hog the limelight. It was never about Everton, it was and still is about Bill Kenwright. To think that he even borrowed the money off Anita Gregg and then screwed Paul Gregg over reflects perfectly his intentions and his character.

Tony Abrahams
17 Posted 03/02/2023 at 15:58:59
It really is incredible how Bill Kenwright has kidded so many people for years. I don’t believe he went to Anfield much either, if it’s true that he got passed along the kop, because people who recall those years can only remember kids getting passed down towards the front.

He’s a romantic for sure, so it’s not lies, it’s often just pure fantasy, and he’s even gave us some good times, just to prove this.

Please don’t turn up tomorrow Bill Kenwright, because you will know what you’re doing if you do, Being present will definitely prove, you haven’t got the teams best interest at heart.

Stephen Vincent
18 Posted 03/02/2023 at 16:26:48
Great piece Barry, loved it.

I remember taking my lad down to the Kings Dock site. We took photos of where the ground was to be and the surrounding area, he built a model of the new stadium and wrote a whole book on the benefits to Liverpool. This was his school project and of course it never came to fruition.

I seem to remember Bill appearing in the Liver Birds as Sandra's boyfriend and expressing his undying devotion to the Orcs, surely not something Our Greatest Fan would ever agree to.

Dave Carruthers
19 Posted 03/02/2023 at 18:45:33
A fabulous piece of fantasy, Barry. The sadness of course is the story could and maybe should have been reality with more strategic and foresight-led thinking.

The complete irony is that, without the inward, selfish thinking, Kenwright could be basking in the glory of the man who truly not only saved the club, but is now the elder statesman, loved by all. However……..

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