On Boxing Day, I had an article published giving my perspective on where we've been since the late '90s. Many of you were very kind, with a lot of the focus in the comments falling upon the extent of our decline since the formation of the Premier League (bastards), our lack of progress under the aegis of our former chairman, and quite a bit fell on David Moyes.

He was given 12 years, he delivered no trophies, no wins away at a major team, and he arguably squandered three major opportunities at a trophy (FA Cup 2009, 2012 and 2013). Two of them were gutless surrenders, with the third being an abject showing from both club and manager. Whatever Phil Neville brought to the club, the abiding memory many of us will have of him in blue is of his performance against Wigan.

But that's all by the by.

The bigger question is, what do we want to be, going forward?

Danny O'Neill, Barry Rathbone and many other seasoned fans, who were around to see the club achieve, compete and win trophies, point out that we should dream, that we should strive, and that the club deserve better. Fans of my age, having never seen anything other than mediocrity, take a more “realistic” view of the situation, wanting to see Sean Dyche stabilise the club, and see what he can do.

We've got a new stadium, which we'll hopefully be able to premiere in the Premier League. An extra 12,000 seats, a minimum of an extra £20M in ticket revenue per season. If the club is shrewd, we'll use the stadium the way that Tottenham and Wembley are used, bringing further revenue and prestige to both club and arena.

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The problem is, that won't be enough. Playing in an age where several clubs are owned by nation states, and nearly all our competitors are owned by billionaires, all of whom have been shrewder and more effective in managing the club than the idiot Moshiri, who's arguably done more damage to the club in 7 years than Kenwright did in his decades of involvement.

A billionaire, even one with the mindset of John Moores, who invested in us and gave the city a club to be proud of, may no longer be enough. A couple of comments on that article suggested that the only way forward is indeed for Everton to be purchased by some nation state. That nothing less than those levels of riches will be enough for the club to compete at the very highest level anymore.

When Man City were bought by Sheikh Mansour (Thanks again, Bill Kenwright), I very petulantly felt that I'd be happier to see the club struggle than to win the way they subsequently have. Now, though? A big part of me just wants to see Everton at the top, and the city represented proudly by a blue club, rather than the horrible bastards across the park.

For now, though, we're about to be bought by 777 Partners. If we're lucky, they'll largely leave the club alone, and allow Sean Dyche and Kevin Thelwell to continue the upward trajectory of the past 11 months (on merit, if the league weren't such bastards, we're in 10th place). Assuming that Sean Dyche continues to deliver, and assuming that he follows a similar trajectory to the ginger man, we might well average 8th place.

But in the absence of a mega rich owner (or owners), that's the limit. The Sly Six, and Newcastle, look set to be entrenched. Aston Villa may well join that group, given Unai Emery's excellent management and recruitment.

If we're very unlucky (and if the past 35 years has taught us anything, we are!), 777 Partners will asset-strip the club. Other than Jarrad Branthwaite, and arguably Amadou Onana (what is going on with him at the moment?), our only assets are the fanbase, and the magnificent stadium that represents our great hope for the future.

With that in mind, I'm inclined to hope for the nation state. But is that who we want to be? Is being the plaything of some nation state, that want to use us to advertise, the best we can hope for?

Reader Comments (27)

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Barry Rathbone
1 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:33:34
I won't be happy till we win something and not truly happy till we are Premier League Champs followed by winning the Champions League – there I've said it.

Only two options in my book: a mega money buyout or an out-of-the-blue miracle worker, a la Shankly, Clough, Wenger, Mourinho.

Trouble is, both are lottery win odds but given a preference it's the miracle worker for me. Far more magical than oil money

Danny O’Neill
2 Posted 28/12/2023 at 19:55:21
Nail on the head, Barry. That has to be our expectation.

The football landscape has changed and we have never built dynasties like those who signed a pact with Lucifer or Ferguson's Manchester United and I suppose we will be adding Manchester City to that list now.

To your question, Rob. Who do we want to be?

Simple answer. Everton.

But we are 30 years and more behind progression.

Without sounding like Uncle Albert "during the war" (I'm a bit way off that just yet!!), coming from the military, you can respect history and heritage, but you have to modernise and move with the times. Respect the past, but don't live in it.

I'll use Manchester United as probably the best example. They have a proud heritage and history. I've said many times, I meet with United supporters and they host me in pubs that honour George Best and the Munich Disaster. They have their own Trinity statue outside Old Trafford.

But unlike us, despite 23 seasons (I think) without a title and a relegation, they reinvented themselves as we entered the Premier League era. But retained their heritage.

There is a time and place for it, but we need to modernise and move with the times. We should have done decades ago.

We'll always be Everton. Forever. But move with the times and the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock gives us that opportunity, as heartbreaking as it will be to leave Goodison.

And ditch that If you know your history song. It grates me!!

Don Alexander
3 Posted 28/12/2023 at 20:08:25
It's all very well asking the titular question but the performance of the self-obsessed hopeless dickheads at the top of our club for decades, and especially the past seven years, has rendered hope of a trophy win or inclusion in the Top 6 somewhat ephemeral to me unless we're very soon to be blessed with a patient, competent, wealthy owner/s.

And for the record, I believe in Santa Claus more than that sort of blessing.

Brian Denton
4 Posted 28/12/2023 at 20:09:46
The 'nation state' route may be snookered for good now with the FFP/P&S rules. As I posted elsewhere, I will be interested to see how Newcastle get round them. The 'genius manager' route will also be much harder now that any outstanding players would be tapped up and scooped up by the Big Boys.

Remember, you have to have a sustained run of success to stay at the trough. You need to achieve a few seasons' worth of ranking points to get a seeding in the Champions League, and avoid being the canon fodder in a group with Bayern Munich and Liverpool. You also need to retain your best players, and have the money to replace them as they grow older.

Leicester illustrated the way it works if you have one outstanding season when the constellations line up. 8 years later, they are playing in the Championship.

Robert Tressell
5 Posted 28/12/2023 at 23:25:10
The nation state option is pretty much dead because:

- There's only so many nation states available that would buy a football team.

- There are already 7 or 8 extremely wealthy clubs who are well established and can't just be outspent. You could spend £500M on our squad and still only have the 8th best team in the Premier League.

- Saudi Arabian league + Super League ambitions have changed things. The focus may not be on the Prem going forwards.

It all adds up to a very limited market for super rich buyers and no incentive for them to buy.

To me, it seems inevitable we become part of a stable of global clubs who makes use of economies of scale to remain competitive (albeit not quite at the top of the tree). This plus youth and player development will allow us to have peaks (just as Leverkusen are doing in Germany) when a top notch squad is assembled inexpensively just at the point they find an outstanding coach. It'll fall apart in a few seasons but they should win a fair bit of silverware in the meantime.

This is what 777 Partners are trying to do and, whether we like it or not, it is logical.

Sickening that our failure to capitalise already freezes us out of realistic title, Champions League and Super League ambitions… but that's where we are.

Dupont Koo
6 Posted 28/12/2023 at 23:47:24
Barry@1 & Danny@2, I can't agree more with your points.

IMHO, as an Evertonian, we should all strive to:

1) Uphold the NSNO motto till the club has accomplished that and it means getting into the same echelon with the likes of Barca, Real Madrid & Bayern (not that I would support joining the Super League but at the very least we should become one of the first in getting the invitation to join by accomplishments on & off the field)

2) Preserve our Past, Enhance our Present, Protect our Future. Be proud and knowledgeable of our past, support the Thelwell-Dyche duo to continue our progression back to the top and fight against anyone similar to Kenwright & Moshiri who would do nothing but compromise the club. Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.

Kevin Molloy
7 Posted 28/12/2023 at 23:49:57
Football isn't a contest any more, it's more like Formula 1. It's all about the money.

It's a billion-dollar business, and way beyond our ability to influence.

Ant Purcell
8 Posted 29/12/2023 at 00:11:45
Kevin absolutely correct, mate: football is getting that way – it's no longer a contest. Money is fucking the game right up.

It should not be like that; it's a sport and 'sport' means 'fair' but you and I know it ain't though.

Mark Taylor
9 Posted 29/12/2023 at 00:21:38
I think Robert 5 has this about right. The ship has sailed on the sovereign wealth fund and fast investment to success. That one is down to Kenwright. This will now have to be a staged process.

There are enough examples of dogs finally having their day to be optimistic it might happen one day, if only briefly. Maybe not in my lifetime but, on the other hand, I have already seen the glory days, so there are always those memories.

Hopefully, that cohort who have not experienced what it was like when we were seriously good, and feared, will have their own day in the sun, at some point...

Laurie Hartley
10 Posted 29/12/2023 at 02:55:08
I want us to be great again and I reckon I still might see it – like I did in 1963 when we were owned by someone with loads of money.

What about Apple? We would be small change for the biggest company in the world. The Apple stadium on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey. I can just see their l logo on our shirt.

Then a striker as good as Samuel Eto'o, a playmaker as good as James Rodriguez, and a goalkeeper as good as Nigel Martyn.

But first - 3 points from the Wolves game.

Derek Thomas
11 Posted 29/12/2023 at 07:48:45
Q) Who do we want to be?

A) Sadly, perhaps, who knows? Maybe just the best we can afford... but let's have a go at them, I can get behind 'Maximum Efforts is the Minimum Requirement'.

Rob: "The new stadium will provide an uplift in revenue but it won't be enough."

I have a sneaky feeling it won't add anything; it will all – and maybe more besides – be swallowed up in interest payments and / or rent... or both!

Rob Jones
12 Posted 29/12/2023 at 08:34:21
Honestly, Derek, that's the scariest part.

Arsenal were tight for years either side of 2006. We badly need money, to pay down debt, and stay competitive.

For me, this is the biggest crime Bill Kenwright committed against us. Had he not bungled, twice, we'd have moved more than a decade ago.

Instead, we're looking at needing a sugar daddy just to keep us afloat.

Joe McMahon
13 Posted 29/12/2023 at 09:25:19
I want us to be able to compete and win something again, play in the Champions League knock out stages and embrace the here and now.

I want us to prioritise goals, as I'm sick of decades of Liverpool's endless strikers.

Finally – this includes some of the fanbase, and Kenwright was a master in this: I want us to stop looking decades in the past. The '60s and '80s was a long time ago, the club has to attract another generation of supporters. The stadium will be a good start, although it's probably 10 years too late. We have fallen too far behind.

No more embarrassing Grand Old Team or The People's Club. I fully agree with Danny's observations re Man Utd – they remember and celebrate but also moved on.

Robert Tressell
14 Posted 29/12/2023 at 10:23:03
Joe # 13,

I would like us to prioritise goals too. Once the club is stable again (possibly the 2025-26 season) we need to start behaving like the big club we are. That means building a side capable of front-foot football – something Leverkusen have been patiently doing to use them as an example again (and now sit top of the Bundesliga having already scored 46 goals).

It comes from a quality academy and buying players who have the style and potential to play Champions League football. Hunting for a potential future Eto'o instead of having to sign an actual Beto.

Tony Abrahams
15 Posted 29/12/2023 at 10:36:03
Very thought provoking post that from Kevin@7, that certainly explains a lot for the conspiracy theorists amongst us.
Paul Birmingham
16 Posted 29/12/2023 at 19:37:39
Very good analogy, Kevin @7.

In less than 20 years, Man City have made historybut arguably, prior to the Thai and Sheikh takeovers, they had a little bit of history in terms of honours and consistency.

Everton have a great history but the slide started by selling Alan Ball… Harry Catterick was so set in his ways. What has followed is a few genuine years of euphoria, but now consigned to the past.

For me, get Everon run in a stable and sustainable manner by new owners who hopefully will be genuine in integrity and virtue for Everton and Evertonians.

Play football with spirit and purpose, and be consistent, so as to qualify for Europe every season, and be aiming for Top 5 placings in the Premier League, and win some cups.

Vision and belief and aim to be the best, and fear no other teams. Time is the enemy but soon, hopefully, the new age for Everton can begin.

The new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock will be an inspiration. Goodison Park will never be forgotten but Everton must get real and learn the lessons of the last 3 decades.

Mark Taylor
17 Posted 29/12/2023 at 20:49:30
Derek @11 points out the scariest position. I worry about that too.

Despite the euphoria over a new stadium, I can't make the numbers add up. Hopefully I'm wrong and missing something.

Ray Said
19 Posted 30/12/2023 at 14:34:46
Good article Rob. I am not optimistic about the future at all.

Regarding the new stadium, in my opinion the capacity is too low to make a radical difference to the finances. Rob points out in his article that it might bring an extra 20 million per season and, judging by the recent revelations about what it costs to actually run this club, that might help us to survive assuming it's not eaten up by costs.

The stadium will move us up from having the 10th biggest capacity to having the 7th-until Newcastle, Chelsea and possibly Villa expand or build new stadia too. I think we will sell out the seats easily but even if we signed Messi and Ronaldo it would not lead to more fans filling empty seats as there will be no room for expansion. The board didnt look at building spare capacity to plan for success and gathering more fans. Planning to be successful was an alien concept to them. Yes, I know we could increase the capacity by a standing area but so could the competitors. The stadium will definitely lead to more costs for fans going to the match. The ticket price will increase whatever the owners may say ahead of the move, the refreshment costs will increase- a positive thing for the club will be that most of that money will be retained by the club as we will be captured in the stadium precincts and our experience in airports evidences what food and drink suppliers do to captive audiences.  
The key question for me is ' how do we compete within our own city first'? Setting a strategy to just be better than the club over the road will answer all the other issues about winning.
 It's the strategy Athletico Madrid used and why they chose to have an inspirational manager with a radical plan to create a team in his own image that could be renewed time and time again. To do that they employed a maverick and made him the highest paid manager in the world. Once they knew that was working then they looked at the stadium issue. My fear is that we got the order wrong and prioritised the stadium over the footy side.

As it stands we will soon have a new but smaller stadium than our in city rival, have more money coming through the accounts but still less than them, less being spent on scouting than them, less being spent on transfers and wages than them. There will be others that think we should not be too bothered by what the other lot do but Alex Ferguson focussed on 'knocking them off their perch' and it seemed to inspire his club.

Danny O’Neill
20 Posted 31/12/2023 at 07:17:12
I think the stadium capacity is realistic. On a par with the Etihad and St James's Park. And, depending what they do with safe standing, it can change.

Apologies to repeat myself, but attending Schalke matches in Germany at the Veltins Arena. Their attendance is over 62,000 for league matches when safe standing is applied to certain sections of the stadium.

When they host international matches and it reverts to all seated, it reduces to around 54,000, which is the official capacity.

Similar to the Everton Stadium?

Paul Birmingham
21 Posted 31/12/2023 at 09:56:42
Hi Danny,

I'm sure, during the stadium pre-build induction, that Everton said there's scope in the design for safe standing that would add another 10k to the capacity.

I'm sure some on TW will have the final design spec on the optimum capacity for the new Everton Stadium.

Ray Said
22 Posted 31/12/2023 at 14:14:46
Man City planning application was approved and the Etihad will increase to 60k. Newcastle are considering expansion to 60k or a new stadium.
Danny O’Neill
23 Posted 31/12/2023 at 14:43:11
Size doesn't matter, as they say.

Juventus built a new stadium with a capacity of just over 41,000 compared to the previous one that housed 70,000. But it was soulless.

Roma planned similar, but I think the plans went pear-shaped and didn't take off.

We are actually upgrading in terms of capacity by approximately 12,000.

The important thing is how we generate additional match day revenue and that doesn't just come through tickets.

Ray Said
24 Posted 31/12/2023 at 15:02:18
I don't think it's a valid comparison, Danny. Juventus built a smaller stadium but one they wholly owned, one not leased from the local council like most of the Italian clubs.

That meant they radically increased turnover. They were averaging 35k in the 70k capacity Della Alpi.

Everton are adding 12k to capacity but that will bring only circa £20 million per season through the turnstiles. It's an increase but will not get us much nearer to our competitors.

I suppose time will tell us the outcome and I hope I am wrong in my view and it turns out to be a great decision by the club.

Danny O’Neill
25 Posted 31/12/2023 at 15:35:54
That's part of the point, Ray.

Would we rather have a half-empty stadium or one packed to the rafters?

Living in Italy, I often went to Stadio Olympico to watch both Roma and Lazio.

Totally soulless sitting in a stadium that had a capacity of 70,000 but there were only 35,000 present.

I'd rather have a stadium full to capacity within our means that generates atmosphere rather than a half-empty one.

Man City have struggled to fill the Etihad.

Newcastle will only go so far. At West Ham and Arsenal, you can visibly see the empty seats despite them declaring a sell-out.

For me, 52,000 with a view to 60,000 is a step in the right direction. It's what I grew up with, even though I've stood inside Goodison with crowds of less than 20,000.

Ray Said
26 Posted 31/12/2023 at 16:31:28
I take your point about atmosphere. I am in my mid-sixties and grew up going to Goodison when the attendance was sometimes in the high 50k and also when we had under 20k – and it really does make a difference.
Kunal Desai
27 Posted 31/12/2023 at 16:50:02
I want us to be Premier League champions and win Champions League trophies. That is the stuff of dreams.

Realistically though, I think there is more chance of us being relegated and going through the Football League than winning the Premier League.

I see us as probably having the best days under Moyes. I don't believe we will see us back as a Top 6 or 7 side consistently over a 10-year period.

Perhaps we will see the odd season or two in the Europa League and the occasional top-half finishes but, other than that, I think the best of Everton will be our history and success of the '60s and '80s.

Robert Tressell
28 Posted 02/01/2024 at 01:12:25
Kunal #,

I wouldn't be so defeatist. If we can get the stadium sorted and return to the Top 10, then we have the platform for good times.

Leverkusen are on the brink of something like that now. The stories of Dortmund, Napoli, Atletico and now Girona offer some hope too.

Domestic and even European cup trophies and occasional Top 4 placings (and therefore Champions League campaigns) are definitely within reach medium term.

And nothing is permanent. I grew up when Serie A was the richest league on earth and AC Milan were the biggest team. Look how times change.

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