The c lub need fresh investment yet, sadly, are held back by two things which, ironically, we bemoan the absence of elsewhere in modern football: a traditional old stadium and a chairman who is truly a fan. Goodison Park generates a wonderfully raucous atmosphere at times but is less good at generating income – just £22.8m last season, compared with Man Utd’s £100.2m. As for Kenwright, his journey from boys’ pen to directors’ box is well told yet the fact is that since becoming owner in 2000, he has twice sought to move Everton – first to a waterfront site at King’s Dock, then to Kirkby – and failed both times.
A self-confessed “pauper” beside the new breed of owner, he has also been unable to bring any new funds into the club, and this failure was a notable gripe by Evertonians in a Liverpool Echo poll in February. Although Kenwright instructed Keith Harris – chairman of the investment bank Seymour Pierce and a long-standing adviser to football clubs – to help with his search in 2008, it is not the same as formally appointing somebody to find new owners, as Liverpool did last April when recruiting Martin Broughton.
This has drawn suggestions that Kenwright is not serious about selling; those close to the theatre impresario insist that he is, but not to just anybody, and that his caution over finding a safe pair of hands is
photos commendable. The stability Everton have enjoyed since he appointed Moyes is also to be applauded. Yet Kenwright and his board should not be spared criticism – in particular for the fact that Everton are no closer today to solving their stadium quandary than they were on the day Kenwright bought the club (something that may well deter prospective buyers).
Kenw r i ght ’s dec i s ion to do away with AGMs, meanwhile, has lef t some shareholders feel ing d i senfranchised. After the release of the 2009-10 figures, Elstone c laimed he did not want “sterile debate”, yet when the Liverpool Echo ran a series of balanced articles investigating Everton’s finances (which included speaking to fan groups, shareholders and foot
Advertisement ball finance experts) the paper’s reporter was banned from attending the pre-match press conference for February’s FA Cup trip to Chelsea.
Concerned fans have established an online group, Evertonians for Change, while Mike Owen, a shareholder, is involved in a proposal to create a supporters’ trust (Trust Everton). These are uncertain times and, whatever the future brings, it is hard not to think how different life would have been had Kenwright realised his original dream of a waterfront home. In this alternative reality, the rumour that the Abu Dhabi United Group looked at Everton before buying Man City might have been more than just that, leaving David Maddock to write a rather different blog.
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