The views in these blogs are those held by the individual blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton Football Club.
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Leaving the City of Manchester Stadium on Saturday, I was pulled to one side by a fan asking if he could swap his Goodison Park season ticket for an away one. I have some sympathy.
Saturday's win was my highlight of the season to date - real ‘backs to the wall' spirit; up against the alleged richest club in the world; a classic ‘haves vs have nots' battle - all the things that make winning in sport so special.
It's true, inexplicably, it's only our travelling supporters who've seen the best of the Blues this season, but the last couple of performances have been strong and encouraging and on that basis, Monday night's fixture is a game to relish, and hopefully, a big payback for the loyalty shown by our 25,000 season ticket holders.
As 2009 races towards us, I can't help wishing for a crystal ball to see what the next 12 months will bring. Of critical importance, this time next year we will know the value of our next broadcast deal.
The sale of our live television rights has been the biggest single factor contributing to the success of the Premier League. It has underpinned the league's investment in players, academies and stadia.
In Everton's case, in 2007/08, the rights fee comprised 62% of our total income and the growth has been phenomenal. The first Premier League TV deal, in 1992, was worth a total of £52m per season. The current deal earns the Premier League clubs £940m.
Of course, the rights fee is also the biggest factor driving up our costs - player costs. Players' wages have grown at broadly the same rate as the TV deals and one of the challenges we face is aligning the two values. Player contracts can be four of five years long and can start at any point in the TV deal cycle whilst the broadcast right deal is for a fixed, three year term.
Views on future prospects, at a time of economic gloom, are mixed. Some commentators believe it will be tough for the Premier League to secure any significant growth, others are more bullish and point to the ever-increasing popularity of the Premier League abroad.
They predict there remains good growth potential in overseas markets. One thing's for sure, the outcome will have a big bearing on Everton and the rest of the Premier League.
Of course, and more specific to Everton, 2009 will be a pivotal year in our history. This time next year, we could be wearing hard hats and planning sales and marketing campaigns for a new stadium, or we could be searching for how to progress the Club at Goodison.
All our fans know that whichever path we're on has a fundamental bearing on the future of the football club. However, it is important to note that regardless of which path eventuates, we will continue to strive to be the best club we possibly can; the team is fully committed to enhancing our great football club.
Since my last blog, I've had my session ‘in the dock', at the Inquiry, along with other members of the Everton stadium team and I think, overall, we did well. It's not an experience I'd like to repeat on a regular basis but in the same way I keep telling my ten-year-old to play with his left foot only, practice and preparation usually get results.
My personal priority was to get across our burning need to do something about our facilities, to demonstrate how we can deliver it, and, to outline what the new stadium will do for the Club and the region. As I said, I think those messages got through.
Last Friday, the applicant's case - Everton, Tesco and Knowsley closed. After Christmas, the objectors - including Liverpool City Council, other neighbouring authorities, KRAG and KEIOC get the chance to put their case forward, and of course, face cross examination from our legal experts.
This process will take up all of January and, followed by all sides summing up, will conclude the Inquiry. We then hope to hear the outcome of the Inquiry and the Home Secretary's verdict in spring 2009. As I said, a pivotal day for the Club and everyone associated with it.
2009 will be a landmark year for this Club.
May I thank you for your support and wish all Blues a very happy New Year.
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- Up For The Cup 25 1 02/04/2012
- The Price Of Football 64 1 09/03/2012
- Coming Of Age 32 0 29/02/2012