It could be argued that the years between 2004 and the present day have been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the club and its fans, up and down and round and round we go; where we may land nobody knows. Whether a particular season has been overshadowed by the sales of valuable players or have been lifted by record signings, events out on the pitch is what has concerned and continues to concern most Blues’. And quite rightly too as they pay good money to watch their heroes.
The events of the last eleven years have sometimes been dramatic but more often steady and unchanging. However, similar to the French Revolution, it is far too early to tell whether those events have had a positive or detrimental effect on Everton Football Club.
We still watch our football at Goodison Park, having failed to secure the necessary funding or fallen foul of planning rules. We still fret about losing our star players, we also hope that this will be time the club will buy a superstar player or players who will blend into a team that will take on all-comers and lead us to the promised land. We remain anxious that a poor run of results will undermine what progress we have made in previous years and many of us wish that a rich entrepreneur will arrive on his white charger and elevate us back into the elite band of clubs at the top of the Premier League pyramid.
I have set about writing this article to give those who missed the details first time around to be able to read about what was happening in those summer months of 2004. I apologise in advance for the large amount of reports etc in this article but believe me there were seemingly hundreds of pieces which could have been included.
On 21 July 2004 the Echo printed a piece which repeated a report from earlier in the year:
Angry Evertonians rallied together as last season ended to fire a series of questions at Bill Kenwright and his warring board. The worst points total in the club's history and a final league position just one place above the drop zone was the cause of the frustration. Kenwright responded, using the Echo back on May 20 to answer the questions that were so concerning the supporters.
What role does Paul Gregg play at EFC?
Kenwright: He has always said that he is not a football fan - and I give him much credit for that - but he wants desperately for this club to succeed, and not just because he and his family have invested £7m.
Is there any real ambition, or possibility of investment by this board of directors?
Kenwright: I personally find the first half of this question insulting. Do you really think anyone lacking ambition would give up a huge proportion of their life like that? On the day we took over I said we were only custodians of this football club until someone with more money, more ideas and more passion came along. That person (or those people), simply do not exist.
Stuart Rayner wrote on the 7th July 2004 in the Liverpool Echo:
When the Premier League was set up in 1992 it was sold as an idea to improve England's chances on the international stage. It has failed. The Premiership has improved a lot of things about football in this country, but it hasn't helped our national team much. And certainly not in the way it promised to. If we didn't realise it 12 years ago, then we certainly do now. The Premier League is about one thing and one thing only: making money. Anything else is a bonus.
The following day John Thompson of the Liverpool Echo wrote:
IF you think Premiership football is big business now, come back in 10 or 20 years time. Because the thought of Everton being strapped for cash or Liverpool needing to trawl for new investment partners might just be a strange little difficulty belonging to yesteryear. The Blues' announcement yesterday could well be a sign of the times to come. In cutting a deal in Thailand for shirt sponsorship with the brewery Thai Beverages, the club has turned on a tap which might one day just be gushing some serious cash in the direction of Goodison Park.
We await with increasingly baited breath to hear whether Liverpool have struck an even more lucrative and ground-breaking deal in Thailand. It's no secret Liverpool see the country as a gateway to the whole Far East market, where support for British football is fanatical and which could soon yield some decent money on merchandising. Soon our two big clubs will divert their eyes from east to west. Both Liverpool and Everton are shortly to embark on tours of the States, Liverpool to play some of Europe's biggest names in the North east of America and Everton facing two top Mexican sides in Texas.
They've both got serious competition out in the USA, where many Premiership clubs want to make a breakthrough and where, if one or two barriers to interest in the game can be broken down, then there could be opportunities for both clubs to develop a valuable fan base in America. Satellite TV and computer streaming is now changing the world so rapidly that it really doesn't matter whether you are sitting in Bootle or Bangkok, West Derby or West Palm Beach, the chances are you can now catch the game live and at a price.
That's not to mention Australia or Africa, where other opportunities to cash in are emerging or will one day do so. Europe's biggest clubs are turning on to the prospects, and of course the bigger your reputation is to begin with, the more likely you are to have a head start. But there's also room for the quickest off the mark to gain an advantage, and with Thai Breweries' brand Chang now proudly proclaimed on their shirts it looks like a case of 'first up, best dressed' for Everton. Particularly when the player bearing the new look shirt is one Wayne Rooney, suddenly a global superstar who can surely help Everton's popularity rise enormously in these new football markets. The reason Everton are determined to keep hold of him is so David Moyes - who has developed his talent and his temperament as well as anyone could have hoped - can build a team around him, and get Everton up the table rather than further down it. But he can also be a huge asset for the Blues off the pitch too, as they join others in the race to conquer new worlds both East and West.
Many of today’s fans would readily echo Mr Rayner’s sentiments and it could be argued that England are no nearer to success today than they were back then and it also unarguable that there is a great deal more money swilling around the game today than during that period of time.
As for the John Thompson article, exactly what have Everton FC done to seize these wonderful opportunities? After all, it was the ill-fated Mr Paul Gregg who brokered the deal with Chang, and eleven years later the Everton FC shirts still bear their name and logo. Will Bill Kenwright ever find that person or those people and do they even exist?
The footballing summer of 2004 was dominated by Wayne Rooney of Everton and England. The 18 year-old had lit up England’s performances in Euro 2004 with guile and goals and the media had latched on to what many Evertonians had already witnessed at Goodison; here was a player who had all the attributes to be a star for many years to come. Unfortunately that attention wasn’t what Everton FC required at that precise moment in time because they had plenty to cope with following a disappointing Premier League campaign in 2003-04 in which they recorded their lowest ever points tally in the top flight and the club was the subject of ownership speculation and unhealthy in-fighting.
David Moyes’ would need the full backing of the board to ensure there was no repeat of the previous season’s disappointments, unfortunately nobody was quite sure as to which of the various people would be leading that board. Added to the managers’ headaches were the uncertain futures of Thomas Radzinski, Thomas Gravesen and others in the playing squad who believed that they may be better off elsewhere.
If one player symbolised Everton FC in 2004, it was Wayne Rooney. Here at last was that special talent that the club had been crying out for, for nearly a generation. Rooney a home-grown talent, a player that loved the game almost if not equally as passionately as those who frequented Goodison Park. Having brought the house down with his last minute winner against Arsenal at Goodison in October 2003, here at last was a true-blue hero who was heaven sent to save the club from mediocrity and at last Evertonians would have somebody to be proud of that cost the club nothing, but who had the potential to become a great player.
However, many Evertonians were always anxious about the future plans of Wayne Rooney, because a great many of them realised that money in the modern era of football would always determine the future of their young hero. Manchester United and others had the wherewithal to purchase any player they felt they needed and Everton FC were for want of a better phrase cash-strapped. Not only were Everton FC lacking financial clout they were also deep into a battle for control of the ownership of the club. An unedifying battle between the various protagonists was the backdrop to Wayne Rooney’s rise to national and international stardom as his goals for England in Euro 2004 elevated the young man to the front pages and regular mentions on the national TV news bulletins.
This new found national fame was highlighted by a Manchester United supporter who named her recently born baby “Rooney” – albeit she named her child prior to Wayne’s exploits at Euro 2004. The Suffolk lady hoped that Wayne would leave Goodison and join her club in time for the new season.
Neville Southall, Kevin Sheedy, Gary Lineker and Dave Watson were all urging Everton’s young starlet to follow Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard’s lead and remain at Goodison Park. Neville Southall said on July 1st 2004:
I feel sorry for him because this talk has come along at a time when he has still not had a chance to make his mark for Everton over a period of years. If it was me I would stay at least another year or two to prove something to the fans and give the club a chance of achieving success.
But if you are a player like him, with his talent, you want to see investment in the team because without it they will be struggling next season. The club finished fourth from bottom last season and they have lost a few members of the squad since then. "What he needs now is time to sit down to consider his options. If he does that there is every chance he will copy Steven Gerrard, follow his heart and say he will stay for a while. "From a footballing perspective, playing every game for Everton is better than sitting on the bench at Manchester United.”
In a similar vein, Kevin Sheedy said that Wayne had done well with the national side and had been playing with players who are on the same wavelength. Sheedy added that:
Everton have got themselves in a situation over a period of time where the club hasn't progressed as the supporters would like.
The club has stood still and when a player like Wayne Rooney comes along the club are not in a position to bring in the players to play alongside him, to bring the best out of him and help challenge for the top honours.
In the short term, the money from a sale could help the club, but in the long term you only win trophies with players like Wayne Rooney.
He is in a similar situation to Steven Gerrard. He made a decision to stay at Liverpool when there was more money on offer elsewhere. "Had they lost him they would have had no obvious replacement and the club would have taken a step backwards.
Former Everton strike Gary Lineker’s view was perhaps more telling, possibly because he was a more dispassionate observer than the Everton stalwarts or because his position in the media gave him a better insight into the realities of the modern game:
Ultimately, it is whether Everton decide to sell Rooney or not. It wouldn't do him any harm to stay and continue to learn his trade there but my gut feeling is he won't be an Everton player at the start of the season.
John Thompson in the Liverpool Echo wrote on July 1, 2004 about the Wayne Rooney situation and compared Steven Gerrard’s decision to reject a move to Roman Abromovich’s Chelsea and the uncertainty surrounding the Everton player.
They fear the greatest natural talent to emerge since Dixie Dean, a boy who took Euro 2004 by storm, might never turn out in their beloved blue shirt again. No doubt Rooney's stock as a simplistic financial asset is now at its highest. Indeed, it may never be higher. It's possible his advisors might urge him to cash in now and make a move which, despite Everton's plans to make a massive new offer, could be bettered down the M6 or M62. Rooney's situation is not the same as Gerrard's. But there are enough similarities, and even more good reasons, for Evertonians not to lose all hope over their young hero and those guiding him. Like Gerrard, he comes from a down to earth family, not the sort who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Until recently they were living in a council house in Croxteth, bringing up a teenager who simply dreamed of representing the club they adore.
It's impossible to believe that suddenly doesn't matter at all to Wayne Rooney and his family. And let's not forget Rooney's professional development at Everton under David Moyes has been phenomenal. Is anyone giving this great club and its manager the credit and respect they deserve right now? Leaving behind family and friends at the age of 18 to chase top dollar even 30 miles away can't be good for him when he's still got so much time on his side. Bring on Exhibit A, Francis Jeffers..... You can make a straight financial case as to why he might leave. And the bitter pill would be sugared slightly by the fee cash-strapped Everton could demand. But that doesn't make it right. Because moving a wondrous young talent like Rooney out of his home town club at just 18 years of age is dangerous and downright wrong. All true fans, who don't just speak from their hearts on this, know it.
The to and fro of the possibility of Rooney’s moving to Old Trafford or elsewhere continued to dominate the football news and it seemed that everyone and his dog was in a position to comment on the summer saga, as Andy Roxburgh, the head of UEFA's technical committee warned Wayne Rooney not to allow fame and fortune to corrupt his "Roy of the Rovers" fairytale.
He was Roy of the Rovers in Portugal. He was like a comic-book hero – everything he touched turned to gold. He's such a likeable guy too – so open, just a young boy enjoying every moment.
There are plenty of examples of shooting stars who just flash across the sky and disappear, what's difficult is to appear early and stay at their top and there is every sign that he will do so.
It's always a big fear that the ones that come on the stage very early get too much attention and too much money too soon. The players themselves have to be aware of the dangers and they need really good people around them to support them - and I know in David Moyes Wayne Rooney does have a very good person to help him.
Meanwhile, UEFA named Wayne Rooney in their Euro 2004 all star squad:
Goalkeepers: Petr Cech - Czech Republic, Antonios Nikopolidis - Greece.
Defenders: Sol Campbell - England, Ashley Cole - England, Traianos Dellas - Greece, Olof Mellberg - Sweden, Ricardo Carvalho - Portugal, Georgios Seitaridis - Greece, Gianluca Zambrotta - Italy.
Midfielders: Michael Ballack - Germany, Luis Figo - Portugal, Frank Lampard - England, Maniche - Portugal, Pavel Nedved - Czech Republic, Theodoros Zagorakis - Greece, Zinedine Zidane - France.
Strikers: Milan Baros - Czech Republic, Angelos Charisteas - Greece, Henrik Larsson - Sweden, Cristiano Ronaldo - Portugal, Wayne Rooney - England, Jon Dahl Tomasson - Denmark, Ruud van Nistelrooy - Holland.
As if the Wayne Rooney saga hadn’t been enough to occupy Evertonians’ minds during the summer of 2004; there was the little matter of Everton’s financial position and the battle between two former friends to gain control of Everton FC. On the first day of June 2004 Trevor Birch had been appointed Chief Executive to replace Michael Dunford but within six weeks he had decided to resign his post. Andy Hunter reported the situation in the Daily Post on July 17th 2004:
New chief executive Trevor Birch resigned yesterday after the board rejected his plans to sell the club. Birch walked away from the club after just six weeks at the helm, frustrated by a developing power struggle between Chairman Bill Kenwright and millionaire director Paul Gregg. The former Chelsea and Leeds United chief executive arrived at Everton with a pledge that he would have complete autonomy in his quest to bring in new investment and transform the club's fortunes.
The Daily Post understands that he attended a meeting of True Blue Holdings, the company which holds a 68% stake in Everton, on Monday, at which he spelt out his aim to sell the club lock, stock and barrel. He warned True Blue shareholders Kenwright, Gregg, Jon Woods and Arthur Abercromby that they would have to be prepared to sell their shares, taking a substantial loss on their original investment. His blunt message was that the only way to save the club from extinction was to sell it. It brought to a head a confrontation that had been developing between Birch and his new employers almost since the start of his brief tenure, as the new chief executive came to terms with the true scale of the financial problems faced by the club.
It is believed that the power struggle between Kenwright and Gregg was frustrating Birch's plans to run the club his way. The True Blue board rejected his proposals on Monday, and in the days that followed, held a series of meetings and conversations aimed at trying to find a compromise. Yesterday, leisure entrepreneur Gregg announced his own plan to restructure the club by dissolving True Blue's shareholding back into the Everton Football Club Co Ltd. The aim, he said, was to raise £15m from outside investors, and another £15m from 15,000 fans who would buy £1,000 worth of shares each. Gregg also claimed there was a refusal to relinquish control within True Blue - who now constitute the entire Everton board of directors - that was preventing progress at the club. Within hours of Gregg's comments, Birch had announced his resignation from Everton. The new chief executive had endured a frosty relationship with David Moyes since he joined the club, with Everton's failure to sign new players this summer the root of the manager's frustration.
The ongoing Wayne Rooney saga and the issue of a shared stadium with Liverpool were further complications. However, none of these are believed to have prompted his decision to quit. Everton have lost one of the most respected businessmen in football at a crucial time. It has come as a major blow to the morale of the club's backroom staff, who had been upset at the departure of previous chief executive Michael Dunford but had taken to Birch from the outset, and by the news that there would be no pay rise for any of them this year.
Kenwright refused to discuss the reasons behind Birch's departure last night. His only comment was: "Obviously I am disappointed that things didn't work out with Trevor and I am personally very sad to see him leave."
A club statement read:
Everton FC is disappointed to announce that Trevor Birch has resigned his position as chief executive officer. The club is, however, continuing discussions with Trevor about the possibility of an advisory role going forwards.
That advisory role meant Birch overseeing the club until his successor was appointed. However, his resignation was with immediate effect and last night Everton announced the club was being run by its senior executives and heads of department. Birch, who is to start a two-week holiday, was unavailable for comment last night.
The turmoil now surrounding the club had seemed a little less serious only a week or so earlier when a new shirt sponsorship by Chang was confirmed by Scott McLeod, in the Liverpool Echo.
EVERTON'S plans to gain a significant fan base in the Far East have been boosted with confirmation of a lucrative new shirt sponsorship deal with Thailand's biggest brewery. The club has signed a one year deal with Chang Beer worth £1.5m. But there is also a two year option as part of the deal which could ultimately land the Blues with a £6m windfall. Everton director Paul Gregg and the club's head of commercial operations Andy Hosie were in Bangkok today to announce the deal.
Gregg said: "For us, there are no boundaries as we seek to expand the Everton business and we believe that the opportunities for the club will only grow with the support of Chang Beer."Chang are committed to a significant investment to promote the Everton brand, not only in Thailand but in many other countries in which they sell their beer." As part of the sponsorship arrangement Everton plan to produce a range of club merchandise which will be available exclusively to the Far East and will be priced to compete with the widespread sale of football shirts on the black market. As part of the deal, three young Thai footballers will come to England to join the club's Academy.
Perhaps, Mark O'Brien in his Daily Post Column expressed the growing anxiety among Everton supporters when he wrote on 17 July 2004:
OH FOR the days when all we had to worry about was keeping hold of Wayne Rooney. Everton fans fear opening a newspaper or switching on the radio at the moment in case they are confronted with yet another piece of disturbing news from Goodison. Many of us were still reeling from the details David Sullivan revealed about our offer for Robbie Savage - payments to be made only if Everton stay up and we have a white Christmas for the next four years - when we were sucker-punched with the news of Trevor Birch's resignation. Just what on earth is going on?
Rumours are rife, as ever, but no one seems to know just what exactly is happening at the top level of our club. Perhaps we should have realised something was amiss when Paul Gregg broke his vow of omerta and made his statement about wanting to restructure the club's hierarchy to allow for new investment.
Obviously someone else in the boardroom doesn't agree, or otherwise they would simply be making the necessary changes, not talking about them in the press. Perhaps that statement and Birch's decision to leave before he's even had time to have his business cards printed aren't directly related, but it seems unlikely. The ex-Leeds chief was brought in because of his experience in dealing with tough situations; is it possible that he has delivered some home truths that his new employers find rather unpalatable? Along the same lines, is it possible that he has suggested courses of action to alleviate our problems that have proved even more unpopular with the powers that be? Someone has to take charge of the situation, and quick. Unfortunately, we were led to believe that the best person to do that has just packed up his briefcase and left the building, mumbling "I left a steady job at Elland Road to come here as well." The biggest concern for most Blues now, over and above the general sense of foreboding that the approaching season brings, is that David Moyes might be the next one to decide that he's had quite enough of this shambolic summer too.
David Moyes had already stated on the 12 July 2004 that he faced the biggest challenge of his managerial career as he related to Richard Williamson in the Daily Post:
DAVID MOYES admits he is facing the greatest challenge of his fledgling managerial career but insists he will not hide from the obstacles ahead. The former Preston manager was feted on all sides as he piloted his new charges at Goodison Park to the brink of UEFA Cup qualification in his first full season in charge. But last year the young Scot had to contend with rumours among supporters that he had lost the dressing room as Everton failed to repeat their impact of 12 months previously and instead found the relegation places too close for comfort.
Speculation surrounding suggestions of an uneasy relation-ship with the players has not been helped by Tomasz Radzinski's astonishing attack on life at Goodison and the manager's approach as he turned down a new three-year deal at the club last week. Moyes admits this summer has been the worst he can remember, with the transfer stories surrounding the future of Wayne Rooney and his own attempts to bolster the squad with no financial muscle only complicating matters further.
But Moyes is determined to prove he is no quitter and that he can put Everton back on the right track towards the higher reaches of the Premiership.
"Whatever happens this summer I'm probably facing my biggest challenge as a manager next season," he said. "But it's not one I will run away from. I'm going to meet it head on.
"It's a real frustration when I look at the clubs like Birmingham, Charlton, Middlesbrough, Tottenham and Fulham. They are investing in their squads. We should be able to compete with them, but we can't.
"Last season was the highest sales of merchandise and the most season tickets the club had ever done. That was progress and we know a new stadium might bring us even more revenue. But until we get some fresh investment we can't really progress.
"But I have to say it's not a question of broken promises. I would never criticise the board of directors here but I will truth-fully say what the situation is to protect my own reputation. "Bill Kenwright is continually trying to get us the finance to make Everton better and he's as big a supporter as any Evertonian."
Moyes says he shares the frustration of supporters in not seeing a number of new signings join the club already, at a time when other Premiership sides are busy strengthening. The arrival of Marcus Bent is the lone new face to date. I was determined to make changes and make things happen this summer," said Moyes. "But things have just not fallen into place.”I expected it to be difficult but not this tough and the uncertainty over Wayne Rooney and the finances at the club has just added to the problems."
Everton's predicament at the wrong end of the table is another factor in the problems attracting new players. "This time last year everyone wanted to join this football club because they could see the progress being made," Moyes continued. "Unfortunately this summer I found the exact opposite because, all of a sudden, Everton doesn't have the same strong appeal because we finished just above the relegation zone.”Some players I have spoken to just don't want to join us right now. When they aren't coming because they are unsure of the direction of the club, it is hard to take."
Moyes, who revealed that Everton had tried to prise Owen Hargreaves away from Bayern Munich last summer, added: "We are not a club in desperate trouble, just a club that needs a little bit of new investment to try and get back on the right track."
Meanwhile it seems Moyes cannot escape questions about Rooney, especially given the fact that he has not yet put pen to paper on the new deal offered by the club and is being coveted by teams like Manchester United, Chelsea and Real Madrid. But Moyes is unequivocal about what Wayne should do next - sign up to the five-year contract which will make him the highest paid player in the history of the club. And he remains steadfast in his determination to keep hold of Goodison's prize asset, despite the string of pundits lining up to suggest Rooney would be better off moving to pastures new.
There is, feels Moyes, a "witch-hunt" against both Everton and their young manager despite their success in success-fully steering Rooney's career through its formulative years. Moyes feels both the club and its managerial team deserve more credit for the way they have sheltered Rooney so far and uses the example of his dealings with his young star during Euro 2004 as an example of how he cannot win whatever course of action he takes.
"I saw the criticism of the Chelsea and Liverpool contingents for going into the camp to speak to their players, so I decided to let Wayne just get on with it," Moyes explained.
I didn't think he needed me, his club manager, on the phone every day. People say I didn't contact him but that's not the case. I sent him a good luck text message before the game with France and another message straight after he got injured against Portugal. "It seems I can't win. If I'd contacted him I'd have been told to back off and because I left him to it people say I'm not interested. At times there's almost a witch hunt against me and the club and it's baffled me. "I am being made to be the fall guy, the bad guy, and I'm saying to myself 'What have we done wrong here?'"
A strong character Mr Moyes but he wouldn’t be able to manage the club properly until the battle for control of the club was played out to its conclusion and Mr Kenwright and Mr Gregg seemed to want the same outcome for the club but had very different ideas how that outcome would be achieved Andy Hunter explained in his piece for the Daily Post on 17 July 2004.
THE Wayne Rooney affair, a failure to attract new signings, the ground-share controversy and mounting debt are just a few of the damaging and as yet insurmountable problems to confront Trevor Birch during his six weeks at Everton. But it is perhaps higher up the power chain at Goodison Park where the real reason for his shock resignation lies. Paul Gregg and Bill Kenwright are engaged in a struggle which, if neither will admit is a battle for control of the club, is at least a fight over the direction Everton must take to halt their current, alarming decline.
And with the club's two most influential directors at loggerheads while David Moyes awaits additions to a squad that finished one place above the relegation zone last term, the chief executive is the first victim of that impasse. Birch led debt-ridden Chelsea into Abramovich's embrace and attracted a buyer to free-falling Leeds. The fact he has had enough at Everton after only six weeks will not ease the sense of helplessness and trepidation around Goodison a month short of the new season. Gregg and Kenwright have been in dispute over how to salvage Everton for over a year, although it was only yesterday that the former - in the knowledge Birch had resigned - decided to go public with his plans to attract new investment. Gregg has made it clear that True Blue Holdings must dissolve its control at Everton having failed to take the club forward since replacing Peter Johnson on Boxing Day 1999.
Confusingly, that is an opinion shared by Kenwright. Gregg is proposing a five-year plan that would lead to a ground share with Liverpool, a new training complex and ultimately release around £15m on new players each season. Gregg insists the current make-up of True Blue makes it impossible to attract fresh investors as the members - himself, Kenwright, Jon Woods and Arthur Abercromby, the entire board of directors - own 72% of Everton. His argument that fellow directors are unwilling to see their powerbase weaken has certainly been strengthened by last night's resignation of Birch, although it may have been his intransigence to accept the chief executive's solutions that caused it.
Gregg explained: "To live up to everybody's expectations we have got to change and I believe we will get support for the changes. In my opinion True Blue has gone as far as it can and we need new investors. "The constitution of True Blue makes it very difficult for other investors to be part of Everton Football Club because the control of the club is within True Blue.
"The constitution of True Blue should change and shareholders in True Blue should ultimately change their shares for shares in Everton. Then there will be a new opportunity to broaden the base for investment and bring new directors onto the board. "At the moment, investors could put money into the club but still not have a voice in how the club goes forward if they are not part of True Blue.”
To make the change the shareholders in True Blue must vote for it. That is something I have been asking to do for 18 months. But it is a matter of control and it is a big decision to make changes where the control may be relinquished.
"Of course, control could well stay the same if the constitution is changed and there are no new investors. But we need to make it easier for people to bring money and new ideas into the club.
"I believe there are maybe two or three seriously wealthy people on Merseyside who want to invest in Everton but would only do that if they could present their own views on how the club should be run, which would mean places on the board. They would not have that opportunity now.
"Those people could invest collectively or individually to raise £15m.
"But by making it easier for people to invest in the club we could also, in the future, put together a fans' share issue to buy shares for £1,000. If there are 15,000 fans around the world willing to invest then we could bring in another £15m.
"We need to look for initial investment to consolidate the club's finances but we also want to support the shareholders." Gregg admits he is 'ambitious' his proposals will be put his place, and insists he is committed to overseeing the five-year plan if it is accepted.
"I will be anxious to seek the support of the new investors for this plan," he told the Daily Post. "If someone comes on board you want them to share this vision. I am not saying the vision is perfect but it is an attempt to take the club forward by attracting new investment, new young players and sharing a stadium with Liverpool. "I appreciate many fans are against the idea of sharing a stadium with Liverpool but Everton's support needs another 22,000 seats and a new stadium would give us that. "It would transform the annual revenue of Everton Football Club by £12m-£15m a year and when you can start investing that sort of money in the team each year then you have a real chance to make major progress."
KENWRIGHT and Gregg own an equal share in True Blue but the chairman has a greater stake in the club because he also owns some of the remaining 28% in the Everton Football Club Company Ltd. His plan on how to attract new investors may be at the heart of Birch's decision to quit, even though the chief executive himself believed selling the club was the best way forward.
But Gregg is clearly convinced the club needs a fundamental change in the way it runs its affairs.
"We need to attract new talent to the board," he said. "When my wife and I came into the club it was to support our good friend Bill Kenwright. But it was also based on the observation that the club had suffered because of a lot of bad management until Bill arrived and there was an opportunity to change Everton Football Club into a major force in the game again.
"My frustration has been that we haven't made those changes and developed the club into what it could be. We have a fantastic club and its brand can be used to make that five-year plan a reality.
"It is about selling the club worldwide and maximising the revenues so we can invest in the right players for the future." Gregg has not attended an Everton first team game for over a year and has never disguised the fact he is not a football fan. But it is his experience as a highly-successful businessman that he believes the club needs most of all now.
He insisted: "The problem is that if you cannot make a contribution, there is no point being in something. Everybody has to feel rewarded by what they are doing and I believed that at this club there was a shared ambition. That has not been achieved.
"From my perspective, the family invested a lot of money in the club. We know football is different from other businesses, but my point is that should not stop the club being run properly.
"It should be a business first and then we have got to satisfy the fans because if it isn't run properly we cannot be successful on the pitch. Run the club properly and then we will be in a much better position to support the ambitions of the fans and the manager.
"But everybody, from the fans to the player to the manager and the directors have got to be signed up to the same plan. Myself, and Bill Kenwright never planned to do a Roman Abramovich but we believed the club could be a lot better in many ways. We have not achieved that because we have not changed the way the club is run and that has to be addressed." For Everton's sake, it has to be addressed immediately.
A Special Report written By John Thompson and Scott McLeod in the Liverpool Echo tried to understand the Goodison machinations.
WHEN Trevor Birch took up his role as Everton chief executive on June 1 he insisted he could transform the club's fortunes off the field. But less than six weeks after settling in at his desk, the man who oversaw the Roman Abramovich revolution at Chelsea and who saved Leeds from financial meltdown has found the task at Goodison too daunting. He has walked away - seemingly unable to come to terms with the infighting which has left the club reeling with the kick-off to the new season just four weeks away.
One theory suggests the last straw for Birch came when he picked up copies of yesterday's Liverpool ECHO to read of director Paul Gregg, proclaiming a grand plan to bring up to £30m of new investment into Goodison. Both men had attended an eight hour board meeting only the previous day. Yet it is claimed that Birch knew nothing of Gregg's intention to go public, with the latter claiming the need to restructure Goodison's powerbase and financing as his own big idea.
Another theory claims Birch was so worried by the state of the club's finances he actually wanted to seek a new buyer for Everton. Yet another suggests Liverpool's firm declaration against ground sharing yesterday may also have backed Birch - a ground share advocate - into a corner. Whatever the truth of this acutely embarrassing episode for Everton, it takes a lot to make a man turn his back on a £600,000-a-year job - to give up on the post he insisted he was in for the long term. Birch has remained tight-lipped, refusing to shed any light on the reasons for his departure. He's now on holiday.
However, it has become increasingly obvious in recent weeks that all has not been well behind the scenes at Goodison. There's no doubt a power struggle is taking shape between chairman Bill Kenwright and multi-millionaire director Gregg - as Gregg's comments in yesterday ' s ECHO served to illustrate. That struggle appears to have under-mined what Birch was planning. And, coupled with a poor relationship with the manager, appears to have convinced him to make such a dramatic decision. Birch's departure goes to the heart of a problem which has been developing for the last 12 months - and which has been highlighted by a series of body blows throughout the close season. The lack of investment in the squad, the failure to secure new deals with Tomasz Radzinski and Thomas Gravesen and the on-going speculation of rifts within the board-room have all been caught in the spotlight of a national media focus created by the Wayne Rooney 'will he stay, will he go' saga.. Birch arrived at the epicentre of it all. And rather than putting the good ship Everton back on an even keel, he found he was bringing his own problems.
It was clear from the outset Birch's plans for the club did not marry up with those of David Moyes. The Goodison boss insisted after the 5-1 hammering at Manchester City on the final day of last season that widespread changes needed to be made to his squad. It was hard to argue with the manager. The worst ever points total, a host of players heading for the exit and the majority of those who remained were entering the final 12 months of their contracts. Kenwright echoed the manager's concerns and vowed that there would be at least £5m available for him to invest.
It was Birch's task to raise those funds as quickly as possible by attracting major new investment to the club. But nothing was immediately forthcoming, and his view that a shared stadium presented the best way of attracting those investors meant it was a huge task which faced him. In the meantime, there was little sign of activity in the transfer market. And the manager became increasingly agitated. Fifteen players, from the Academy through to the first team, departed the club at the end of last season but the £5m recouped in wages was not redirected to the manager. With the season looming large, Marcus Bent remains the only new addition. What is clear is that Everton's hierarchy hoped Birch would be the man to herald a modern age. But the personal chemistry between Moyes and Birch meant they were poles apart.
It was understood the pair had not spoken for up to a fortnight before Birch's decision. It is also believed Birch saw Gregg as something of a 'loose cannon' within Goodison.
It will be very interesting to see if, following Birch's departure, new faces begin to arrive. And whether the uncertainty that is being created by the obvious faction between Gregg and Kenwright can be cleared away before the club suffers further damage. Whatever happens, the money is sure to remain tight, for the time being at least. And all the good work which appeared to have taken place earlier in the summer now counts for nothing. The reshuffle which was implemented to coincide with Birch's appointment was intended to revamp the club's powerbase. Gregg, whose share in Everton is only bettered by Kenwright, adopted a more hands-on role and set about negotiating the shirt sponsorship deal with Thailand's Chang Beer.
Sir Philip Carter departed his post as chairman and was given the title of Life President and fellow boardroom old-boy Keith Tamlin departed. Kenwright, who it was revealed had been effectively running the club from his London office anyway, became the chairman. But it was Birch who was meant to be the new lord and master of Goodison. He replaced Michael Dunford but took on far more responsibility than his predecessor. That control was undermined by the wrangling that is taking place between Gregg and Kenwright. Both men are talking of finding new investment. Both men are talking of ambitious plans for the future. But neither seems to be talking for the other. It remains to be seen who will come out on top. But the first victim has already been claimed.
Indeed it wasn’t too long before another victim was claimed as Andy Hunter reported in the Daily Post on Jul 21, 2004:
EVERTON'S boardroom divisions were further exposed last night when one director attacked Paul Gregg's plans for the club and another resigned. Arthur Abercromby became the second member of the Goodison executive to quit in five days when he ended a 10-year tenure on the Everton board.
His departure, following chief executive Trevor Birch's exit on Friday, means there are now only three people with a say in how the club is run - Bill Kenwright, Gregg and Jon Woods. And last night Woods aligned himself firmly in the Kenwright camp when he criticised Gregg's proposals to dilute True Blue Holdings and raise £30million over five years as "impracticable and unachievable".
Woods, one of the founding members of True Blue, joined Gregg at Goodison Park on Monday to help the business in the wake of Birch's exit. But last night he made clear his opposition to his fellow director's intentions for the club although he stopped short of outlining his own vision to take the club forward and give David Moyes urgently required transfer funds. "I wish to clarify my position with regard to current events at Everton," said Woods in a rare statement. "Contrary to some press reports I do not support the proposals that Paul Gregg has brought to the public arena in the last few days."Whereas I accept that Mr Gregg is fully entitled as a director of the club to put forward his views, I believe that they are both impracticable and unachievable." He added: "First and foremost I am an Evertonian and always will be. Mr Gregg is right about one thing. This great club and its future is the most important issue. "To that end I will continue to work with and support Chairman Bill Kenwright towards bringing success to this club both on and off the field."
Abercromby, meanwhile, resigned without backing either of the camps in the power struggle that is tearing the club apart just four weeks short of the new season. The builder claimed he wanted to resign at the end of last season but was persuaded to stay by his fellow True Blue members and directors. Abercromby said: "For some time it had been my intention to leave the board of Everton Football Club at the end of the 2003/04 season.
Due to various circumstances and at the request of colleagues my resignation was postponed until last week. "I would like to thank everyone connected with Everton Football Club and particularly the staff for the opportunity of working with them over the years."
A few days later in an Echo Comment entitled – ‘The fans deserve better than this’:
WE ALL know football is virtually a religion on Merseyside. Which is why it is sporting sacrilege to see Everton Football Club in the perilous financial position it is in today. And why the only conclusion can be that things have got to change. Change radically. And change now. For the sake of those 40,000 loyal supporters who pay homage at Goodison Park every other weekend. And the many thousands more who would if they could, or once did. Chairman Bill Kenwright, the club's owner, is as big an apostle to the Blues' cause as you could wish to see. But even apostles can't work miracles. And if it takes the ultimate personal sacrifice for him to step aside and allow in a new regime, then for the sake of Everton FC, he must search inside his soul and be brave enough to do it.
Because the club he holds so dear and has run for more than four years is on its knees and hurtling towards disaster, held back by debt and unable to find the millions of pounds in new investment so desperately needed. Of course, if a passionate Evertonian like Bill Kenwright sincerely believes he is dancing with the devil in the shape of Paul Gregg, the multi-millionaire leisure tycoon who claims he has the vision, the wealth, the strategy and the connections to make Everton at least respectable again, he is entitled to resist. Perhaps he is even duty bound. BUT Bill Kenwright can only do so by producing his own investment plan to get Everton out of the mess they are in; a detailed plan which stands proper scrutiny and which can be delivered very, very quickly.
The ECHO is not backing Gregg over Kenwright or vice versa. We're not taking sides. But we are on the side of Everton Football Club and we are insisting today that it cannot go on like this. Right now Paul Gregg's game plan is the only plan in town. Kenwright must come up with an alternative or Everton will sink further into the mire. And it would be a crime for this newspaper and others who care for this club to stand by and let that happen. Better to have the home truths rammed home by true friends in July than risk a tragic inquest next year when it could well be too late. Let's remind ourselves of the mess which Everton, for all its detractors still the fourth most successful club in English soccer history, is now in.
In David Moyes it believes it has one of the brightest young managers at the helm, yet the club is rummaging down the back of the sofas in the directors' lounge to find just a few coppers to spend on players. David Moyes' transfer budget is little more than a million pounds at last count and drip-feed £7m bids for stars like Alan Smith don't fool anyone. It is a club in an ageing stadium which needs to modernise its operating methods, but which has seen its new chief executive Trevor Birch quit after just six weeks in the post. It is a club which must bring in new players to bolster a thinning squad which somehow survived the last season with just 39 points, yet which could soon lose its brightest young star.
Of course it naturally concerns people to hear Paul Gregg doesn't know anything about football as a sport, let alone profess a love for Everton. There are those who are right to analyse his motives and fear he may just want to open things up with his restructure of True Blue Holdings, the sub-company which controls Everton, and get back the £7m he has invested. In other words, if Paul Gregg is a saviour for Everton, he's an unlikely one. But better that than no saviour at all. Because right now the alarm bells are ringing loud and clear. It's not too late now - the season hasn't even started. But soon, unless something happens, it will be. Personalities must be set aside. Politics and bickering, in public or in private, must stop. For the sake for those who hold Everton in their hearts, and for the sake of a city where top flight football involving two teams is part of the social fabric, things have to change at Everton.
Bill Kenwright suffered a psychological blow in his bid to retain control of Everton FC when the small share-holders called for the directors to force change. The story is taken up by David Prentice and Scott McLeod in the Echo.
"Know what can happen to people who are seen as the white knights," said Bill Kenwright. He was speaking on the day he freed Everton from the clutches of a previous, flawed ruler. It was a perceptive, if not to say prophetic, statement. Five years and seven months later, Kenwright's own regime is coming under greater scrutiny than ever before from inside and outside the Goodison boardroom. And there is a sense among fans that the club has reached a point of crisis, a crisis which must be resolved now - before it is too late. The spotlight on the chairman has been intensifying ever since he succeeded Peter Johnson. Today, just weeks before the start of the new season, it has never been stronger. Kenwright is locked in a power struggle with rival shareholder Paul Gregg, who wants the club to accept new investors under a plan which he says will generate millions. Kenwright, says Gregg, is standing in the way of such progress. Today one influential set of fans, the Everton Shareholders Association, tried to force the pace by calling for True Blue Holdings - the vehicle which holds the bulk of the Everton shares - to be dissolved. These minority shareholders have also gathered enough support to force an extraordinary general meeting.
Whilst they have little real power, their call will be a psychological blow to Kenwright. And Gregg has promised to reveal even more details of his plans in the next 48 hours. The clock is ticking. Kenwright first made a play for control of the Goodison boardroom in the summer of 1994, when the Moores family announced the end of an era by severing their ties with the club. He was outmanoeuvred by Peter Johnson. But when Blue Peter's reign ended in a maelstrom of controversy four years later, he was the only runner in the race.
"The last time I was involved in a takeover battle I asked myself questions," he said. "Was I good enough? Was I fooling myself? I was also swayed by some fans, but now I'm pretty certain that I'm the right man for this."
Sir Philip Carter was restored as chairman - although deputy-chairman Kenwright was clearly the man calling the shots - and a new board constituting Paul Gregg and Jon Woods put in place.
The successful takeover was formally completed on Boxing Day 1999, while Walter Smith's side were demolishing form-team Sunderland 5-0 at a vibrant Goodison Park. Things would rarely be as happy again. Kenwright sanctioned a £15m-plus spending spree by manager Walter Smith on the promise of sponsorship from cable company NTL. The deal collapsed at the 11th hour, leaving the manager to pull apart his squad almost as soon as he had assembled it. On the pitch, the Blues slid from one catastrophe to the next and in March 2002 Walter Smith was sacked, barely a month after he had been allowed to spend a further £4.4m on Tobias Linderoth and Lee Carsley, plus a free transfer of David Ginola. David Moyes' impact was immediate and astonishing.
Aided by the emergence of a supremely talented youngster from the youth ranks at Goodison called Wayne Rooney, Everton finished seventh in the Premiership and narrowly missed out on a place in the UEFA Cup. Rooney was injured during the pre-season build-up for 2003-04. The season started inconsistently, was marred by a nightmare November, a fraught February and effectively ended with a 3-1 defeat of Spurs in April. The Blues finished on their lowest points total in 115 years of league football, heralding one of the most turbulent close-seasons in the club's history. Wayne Rooney's stunning successes in Euro 04 were tarnished for Evertonians by the knowledge that a record-breaking £50,000 a week contract lay unsigned in a Goodison office.
Then chief executive Michael Dunford left the club on the same day that chairman Sir Philip Carter was asked to stand down along with long-serving director Keith Tamlin. Trevor Birch was announced with a fanfare as Dunford's successor.
"I knew within minutes he was the right man for the job," said Kenwright. Unfortunately Birch knew within six weeks the job was not right for him. He quit. This week, Arthur Abercromby resigned, leaving a boardroom triumvirate of Bill Kenwright, Jon Woods and Paul Gregg, with Woods publicly declaring his support for the chairman. Everton now seems rudderless. There is no chief executive and the two most important board members (out of a measly three) are at loggerheads. The message from supporters, meanwhile, is clear.
Ian MacDonald, the vice-president of the Everton Independent Supporters Club, sums it up: "Evertonians can see the sands of time on a long and illustrious history in the top flight are finally running out. It has been coming for a long time. We've had warnings for many years, but supporters are saying it will take a miracle if we stay in the Premier-ship before a ball has even been kicked in anger. "Has anyone ever said that before about this proud club? We are not doom and gloom merchants. We are realists. "Everton could be relegated because of boardroom upheaval, part-time ownership and full-time shambles. Everything has come home to roost in this summer of discontent. "I implore the men in charge, on behalf of everyone who loves the club, to settle their differences or stand aside."We are told there are lifeboats ready to put to sea in the shape of potential investors. I urge them not to disappear while the men at the helm are arguing." Change is in the air. And for the fans of an ailing Everton Football Club, it can't come quickly enough
Bill Kenwright will not turn to billionaire pal Philip Green in his power struggle with Paul Gregg. Morning newspaper reports suggested that the Blues ' chairman had turned to his family friend for support as Gregg made a public play for control of the club. Kenwright maintained a dignified silence today, but the Echo understands he has no, nor has any plans, to turn to Green.
The colourful financier, nominally a Spurs fan, has always tossed out approaches from football clubs - but will not even be asked this time. Kenwright has been working closely with boss David Moyes over the past few days on adding to the club's threadbare first team squad. The chairman is anxious that Gregg's jockeying for position does not impact on any moves Moyes may be planning.
By Mark O'Brien, Everton Supporter, Daily Post Jul 23 2004:
PEOPLE enjoy fiction, be it in books, films or at the theatre, because generally it deals with problems. Problems tend to be neat, they can be resolved, whereas in real life we rarely face such clear-cut decisions; instead what we normally have to deal with are dilemmas. Bill Kenwright, with all his theatrical experience, must know this, yet it's his boardroom rival, Paul Gregg, who has grasped the concept and is using it to exert pressure, through the media and in turn the Everton fans, on his one-time friend. Gregg knows that we are desperate for a respite from ever-mounting troubles; first and foremost we want the exodus of players to halt and we want David Moyes to be able to bring reinforcements in. Wayne Rooney's future is uncertain, to say the very least, and the prospects for next season do not look rosy. What better time then for Gregg to present himself as the 'hard-headed businessman' who can get Everton back on an even keel?
So, are you a Gregg man or are you a Kenwright man? That seems to be the clear-cut choice that's being presented. The Oxfordshire-based businessman knows full well that if he gets the Everton fans on his side then the sensitive Kenwright will probably fold in the face of abuse from the stands. He is, after all, an Evertonian. That's not enough though, as has been pointed out on many occasions, and obviously his stewardship of the club hasn't been good, otherwise we wouldn't be in this position. However, before we make our choice, perhaps we should also look beyond Gregg's promise of new investment and schemes to sell zillions of shirts in the Far East.
For a start, surely he shares some blame for the mistakes of the last few years? But how come he's only offering to do something now? We know he doesn't go to the game, but surely a glimpse at a newspaper would have told him that something was amiss at Goodison. And how come he wasn't pressing for changes to the boardroom constitution when he thought he was getting a stadium and offering Everton the famous 're-verse mortgage'? Maybe most tellingly, why are the other directors, who presumably are furnished with more facts than us, so dead set against him if his plans are to improve Everton's fortunes? If he were successful then surely their investments would rise in value too? What we all want is for the parties involved to resolve the struggle for boardroom dominance sooner rather than later.
As fans though, with best interests of the club at heart, we must be very wary of being used as pawns in their power games. The sad fact is, along with all our problems, we now face a massive dilemma.
'Business expert figures out the reasons behind Everton power struggle' – Jul 26 2004
Echo chief feature writer Paddy Shennan asks a football finance chief to unravel the mess that is Everton FC money doesn't talk at Everton Football Club - it turns the air blue. The sums do add up. They add up to misery. For Goodison Park has the one thing money can't buy: poverty.
You can call it a securitisation loan with an additional overdraft facility. You can call it a mortgage with an additional overdraft facility. But, says football finance expert and Everton shareholder Professor Tom Cannon, a debt is a debt. Prof Cannon, the chief executive of Ideopolis International, a research and Development Company based in Rodney Street, Liverpool, says the club undoubtedly has a debt. All it needs now, he adds, is a plan.
THE FINANCIAL SITUATION
Everton took out a securitisation loan three years ago - effectively a 25-year mortgage, which costs £2.8m a year in repayments. It raised £30m, which cleared the club's overdraft.
In addition, the club has a £5m over-draft facility, which it is believed to be up to its limit on.
"It IS a debt - like the mortgage on your house is a debt," says Professor Cannon, the former director of the Manchester Business School. "But the club probably had no choice in taking it out, because its overdraft was so large." And, in the short term at least, it has made the club's plight less precarious
"Just as it is in the interests of a building society that you can keep on paying your mortgage, it is in the interests of the company which Everton arranged their loan with to see the club continue trading." Things, it seems, could be much worse - Everton could be megabucks Chelsea! "Chelsea, by far, is the club in the country with the most debts. If Roman Abramovich walked away, it would be bankrupt and the Premier League would be forced to relegate the club." Football, it is always stressed, is a business like no other. So, although its books might send hard-headed accountants in other fields running for the smelling salts, is Everton merely in a similar messy situation to many other clubs?
THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEMS
"We're probably not the worst," says Prof Cannon. "But there probably isn't a mistake we have avoided.”We have wasted money in a whole host of areas, not least the saga involving plans to build a stadium at Kings Dock which cost more than £1m. And we've lost money on so many players." There are, as the fans know, too many to mention - although Prof Cannon does mention injury-plagued Slaven Bilic and Danny Williamson, glamour signings David Ginola and Paul Gascoigne, Alex Nyarko and Duncan Ferguson. He describes the decision to buy back Ferguson from Newcastle - which happened during Walter Smith's reign and was sanctioned by owners True Blue Holdings - a "sentimental purchase," adding: "It's like going back out with an ex-girlfriend - it just shouldn't happen!"
Ferguson is reported to have recently rejected a £500,000 pay-off from the Blues. He is therefore set to see out the remaining year of his contract, picking up around £2m in wages in the process. Everton, the money man points out, has also suffered from the instability associated with three changes of ownership in its recent history. "We've had the Moores family, Peter Johnson and now True Blue Holdings. No other club in the Premiership, not even Chelsea, has seen that speed and regularity of change. "Other clubs have either had one change of ownership in that time - like Manchester United, Chelsea and Newcastle - or none, like Arsenal and Liverpool.
"And towards the end of the Moores family's ownership, after the club had enjoyed its incredibly successful spell of the mid-1980s, the policy was 'minimise, minimise, minimise,' when the board should have been redeveloping the stadium and refinancing the club.”The club has also suffered, over the same recent period, from the additional shifting sands of regular changes in management."
"The first thing Everton needs is clear and decisive leadership, whether that's from Bill Kenwright or Paul Gregg," says Prof Cannon. "We need a stabilising force and someone to come out and say 'I'm in charge. This is where we are going and this is what we are going to do.' "What we need is a plan, because we haven't had one! There is no strategic plan in place. No business can survive going from A to B if you don't know where B is. And that's the problem at Everton. "Everyone likes Everton, but does everyone respect Everton? Even the fans don't respect their club at the moment. The most common words you hear now are 'shame' and 'embarrassment.' We've got to wipe that out."
"There also has to be a major attempt to bring in new money, and I think we should have a share issue for the supporters." And following the apparently ill-fated ground share proposal, he says: "What is Plan B? Every efficient, well-run organisation should have a Plan B. "The club needs to be open and honest with the most important people - the fans.
It needs to demonstrate strong leadership, outstanding customer care and professionalism and inspire respect."…
'£20m rescue plan for Everton' – Aug 14 2004 BY Andy Hunter, Daily Post
Bill Kenwright looked to have won his bitter boardroom battle with Paul Gregg last night after unveiling a dramatic rescue package for Everton worth £20m. The Everton chairman revealed plans for a guaranteed share issue which has been put before the club's bankers and will be vetted this week. Even rival director Gregg described the plans as "great news" and said: "I hope for Everton that this is the first win of the season." The Oxford-based entertainment magnate had previously called on Kenwright to resign as Everton chairman over the club's mounting financial problems.
He said he had investors waiting with £15m to put into the club but the deal depended on Kenwright stepping aside and agreeing to dissolve their True Blue Holdings group, which has majority control of Everton. But Kenwright appears to have out-manoeuvred his rival - who has yet to reveal the full background to his £15m investment - by formulating a guaranteed share issue that will give manager David Moyes some much-needed transfer money and ward off the threat of administration.
The theatre impresario has been closely advised by billionaire retailer Phillip Green in recent weeks but the BHS supremo has not invested any of his own money in the deal. Instead, Kenwright's backers are believed to be from an American-based consortium. A statement last night said: "Bill Kenwright, chairman of Everton Football Club, confirms that he has received formal confirmation of a proposal for £20m-worth of new investment into the club via a new share issue.”The club's bankers have received evidence of the availability of the funds, due diligence will commence on Monday and should be completed by the end of the week." The conditions of the consortium's investment in Everton are as yet unknown, but could see True Blue dissolved and Gregg marginalised if they demand seats in the Goodison boardroom. But whoever the new investor is, the outcome will be that £20m of new shares will be issued and the club's valuation will jump from £30m to £50m, with Kenwright no longer the major shareholder. Gregg, who has £7m of his own money invested in Everton, said: "I have been saying for the past 18 months that True Blue Holdings needs to be disbanded and the club constitution changed to attract new investment.
"This move to turn True Blue Holdings shares into Everton shares is welcome, and I welcome new investment into the club. It is something I have been proposing for 18 months, not just the last three weeks. "I hope this will provide new strength and new energy to the Everton board." A source close to the Gregg camp last night said the battle "was never about personalities, it was about what's best for Everton Football Club". Last week, the Daily Post revealed how Everton's bankers had warned the club they faced the threat of administration by the end of this season if they did not keep within their agreed overdraft facility. The club - now £38m in debt - are confident the fresh investment will stave off that threat. Manager Moyes will receive some of the new investment for team rebuilding and can now step up his offer for West Ham midfielder Michael Carrick - valued at £3.5m by the Londoners - before the transfer deadline closes on August 31. The Everton manager could also rekindle his interest in Birmingham City's Robbie Savage and one other player and the club hope the deal can convince Wayne Rooney's advisers they can afford his £13m five-year contract and attract new talent.
"It's like Christmas come early", says supporters' chief.
Ian MacDonald from the Everton independent supporters' club spoke to Mr Kenwright last night as news broke of the planned investment. He said: "This is welcome news. Bill rang us about 7pm to let us know. "I asked him where the investment was coming from but he said he couldn't tell us until the process of due diligence was over.”He seemed completely relaxed with the weight of the world off his shoulders. "We desperately need to increase the squad. Bill has promised to try to get three new players and he said they 'will excite us'.
"This is like Christmas come early for Evertonians and they will be walking with a spring in their step now." Mr MacDonald added that Mr Kenwright had said he could work with Paul Gregg in future as he was "not a vindictive man". "I do hope that Bill and the rest of True Blue have learnt lessons, that the club needs to move on in a business-like manner.
"The manager should be awarded a medal for his patience with the club. Everton cannot live on passion alone." He added: "Supporters will now feel that they have a chance in the Premiership. Fans lashed out when they were frightened and said things they didn't mean. But I hope we can wipe the slate clean now. "And at last Bill's mum, Hope, can rest her head on her pillow and know that her son came up trumps." Let's wait and see, say the shareholders the Everton shareholders' association last night said it was pleased at the developments but remained cautious until the full package of funding was unveiled. Secretary Nick Williams said: "The shareholders' association welcomes all new investment into the club.”But there's some more detail that still needs to come out and hopefully we can all learn what that detail is as quickly as possible.
"We should use the investment to address the major financial problems and help David Moyes out, and get the youth academy up and running as well as the situation with the bank." Sources close to the association suggested that the money should be divided with £5m going to the bank, £2-£4m to the youth academy and the rest, £10-12m, on new players.
'Kenwright's show of pure genius' – Aug 30 2004 By David Prentice, Liverpool Echo
Bill Kenwright produced the footballing equivalent of plucking a rabbit from a hat last week. Having seen a Russian-backed takeover package slink dramatically into the shadows as a result of a page one splash in the Sunday Times, he produced an alternative £15m package inside 48 hours --and made £6m instantly available to David Moyes. As ever, the source was top secret, but it has been assumed - probably safely - that multi-millionaire pal Philip Green had something to do with the funding.
Whatever the source, however, it was a coup, a masterstroke, a financial fillip (no pun intended) which was sadly overshadowed by the Rooney machinations. Such was the secrecy surrounding the deal that many presumed the £6m was merely an advance from the bank on the promise of either the Russian takeover or a Rooney sale. It was neither. It was fresh funding plucked from the ether and one which had Kenwright receiving pats rather than knives in the back on Saturday afternoon.
Once a Blue... today a Manc! – Aug 31 2004 Liverpool Echo
WAYNE Rooney is a Manchester United player. The Stock Exchange announced "an outline agreement" between the clubs, as the Blues tried to squeeze every possible penny out of Rooney's departure. No figure was published, but Everton were demanding a guaranteed £25m.The UEFA deadline for transfers is midnight tonight, but all financial details must be concluded by close of regular office hours - effectively making the deadline 5pm.Everton fans today spoke of their anger and sense of betrayal over teenage Rooney's departure.
September 01, 2004 Manchester Evening News
Manchester United this morning revealed how the contingent payments to Everton for Wayne Rooney will be structured in a statement to the Stock Exchange. Everton will receive a guaranteed '23million provided Wayne Rooney remains a Manchester United player until June 30, 2007.
The Toffees could earn up to an extra '7million over and above the basic '20million transfer fee as United announced the breakdown of payments. The additional money is payable if the following events happen over the next five years.
: '1million if United win the Champions League.
: '500,000 if United are runners-up in the Champions League.
: '500,000 if United win the Premiership.
: '250,000 if united finish second in the Premiership.
: '150,000 if United win the FA Cup.
: '1.5million if Rooney extends his contract with United.
: '500,000 if Rooney earns 20 England caps in competitive games while a united player.
: '500,000 if Rooney plays a further 20 times for England in competitive games while a united player.
Even if none of those things happen in the next five years the Toffees will receive at least an extra '3million, paid in '1million instalments on August 1 2006 and the same date in 2007 and 2008.
Everton have also negotiated a 25% `sell-on' agreement, under which they would receive a quarter of any excess sum over all amounts paid in this agreement.
So much has been written about the Wayne Rooney transfer saga before during and after that its sheer volume makes it extremely difficult to assess who the villains of the piece were, some blame the player himself, some blame the murky world of agents and the tapping up of players whilst others blame the custodians of Everton FC for allowing a prized asset to move for what seems in hindsight, relative peanuts. Whichever camp you happen to belong to, it cannot fail to grind the gears of most Evertonians that a player of Wayne’s abilities was unable or unwilling to ply his trade at Goodison Park.
THE success of Porto and Greece has reminded us all of the importance of teamwork ahead of the cult of the overpaid individual which the agents relentlessly pursue for their own greed. The success of these unfashionable outsiders couldn't have been better timed as an illustration of what the really important values are.
One reader’s response to one of many articles printed that summer, fortunately for Everton FC at least on the field David Moyes’ men managed to secure fourth place in the Premier League and qualify for a CL play-off match. Given the summer that had preceded it, it was a minor miracle by any stretch of the imagination. It is also the highest place that Everton have achieved in the ensuing years.
But Professor Canon’s assessment that “Winning trophies. Moving to a new stadium. Attracting a fairy godfather or godmother with billions in the bank ... These are said to be the three ways cash-strapped Everton could dig themselves out of the deepest of deep holes. And each one currently seems highly unlikely. "I don't think there is any quick return to the glory days," said Trevor Birch - before he made his sharp exit. Michael Dunford and Trevor Birch both believed a shared stadium with Liverpool FC was the way forward -
Dunford went as far as describing it as a "no-brainer" in commercial terms - but the Reds have said it's a non-starter. And a new stadium could cost in the region of £100m, which seems to make it a non-starter. Sustained success on the pitch which would bring its own financial rewards? Without the club investing in a new team? Tricky. Which leaves a fairy godfather or godmother ... If you're reading this, please send your cheque, made payable to The Everton Football Club Company Ltd, to Goodison Park, Liverpool L4 4EL.
Eleven years later, despite everything including the higher receipts from TV broadcasters, nothing much has changed for Evertonians, apart from relative stability and the hope that the team manage to produce a small miracle out on the pitch. The Liverpool Echo appears not to show the same level of interest in the club’s affairs today as it did eleven years ago, but perhaps they too similar to many of the club’s supporters don’t see how change can be affected from the outside.
I would like to thank the website Everton Independent Research Data for assembling such a mass of information without which most of this article would not have been possible.