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What The Papers Say - January 21

What The Papers Say - January 21

The views on this page are taken from the local and national media and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton.

Daily Post

Everton are considering a loan move for Portugal international striker Hugo Almeida.

Goodison Park manager David Moyes is keen to bolster his strikeforce after long-term injuries to Yakubu and James Vaughan and ongoing concern over Louis Saha's fitness.

And a temporary deal for Portuguese forward Almeida, who plays in the Bundesliga for Werder Bremen, is among several options Moyes is exploring.

The 24-year-old target man forged his reputation at FC Porto but, after loan moves at Leiria and Boavista, joined Bremen in 2006.

Almeida has played 11 times and scored twice for Portugal, and has started eight of Bremen's 17 Bundesliga games this season, netting two goals.

Meanwhile, Everton are hopeful of completing a deal for Sligo Rovers defender Seamus Coleman.

Moyes wants to snap up the 20-year-old right-back, who is a Republic of Ireland under-21s international.

Coleman had a trial at Birmingham City last month, while Glasgow giants Celtic have also been tracking the highly-rated defender.

The Guardian

 

While the world of football has been transfixed by the gold and glitter of Sheikh Mansour's bid for Kaka, Everton, a club considered similar to Manchester City, are having a very different potential future determined, in teeth-grinding detail, in a 1970s civic hall in Kirkby.

There, buttressed by rows of ring-binders, a planning inspector, Wendy Burden, is hearing cases for and against Everton's new 50,000-seat stadium, proposed for the deprived town, originally overspill for Liverpool, as part of a massive retail park spearheaded by a 15,000 sq m Tesco.

The neighbouring local authorities - Sefton, West Lancashire, St Helens and Liverpool city council - are opposing the plans, not because of Everton's relocation but because they argue the retail development is too big and will suck 68% of its trade, much of it by car, from areas outside Kirkby.

Keith Nutter, a retail consultant, was standing up last week to some tetchy questioning from Knowsley council's barrister; Nutter described the scheme as "unacceptable and unsustainable", and the design as "poor" for a town centre. "This is big-box retailing in a sea of car parking," he said.

Knowsley, though, considers this a near-miraculous chance to regenerate Kirkby, where 30% of people are without work, and which has failed for more than 20 years to attract a major supermarket. The council granted planning permission last June, but two months later the government called in the scheme for a public inquiry on a formidable range of issues. The development is much larger than provided for in Kirkby's official local and regional plans; Burden must decide whether its scale is "appropriate", what its impact will be on "the vitality and viability of nearby centres" and whether it fulfils government policy on sustainable development and reducing shoppers' use of the car.

Thus Everton's future depends on the graphs, maps and expert evidence tracking consumer spending, transport flows and Merseyside councils' Unitary Development Plans. The stadium is something of a side issue; although a chair at the inquiry is reserved for the club, its representatives do not always see the need to attend. The lawyers for Tesco and Knowsley sit facing those for the opposing councils and, at the back, the Kirkby Residents Action Group, which is against the development, and Keep Everton In Our City, a fans' group which opposes the Kirkby move.

Tesco does not argue the stadium is necessary to the scheme in a planning sense - it thinks the retail should be allowed anyway. For Knowsley council, though, Everton's presence was crucial to granting planning permission. Sheena Ramsey, the council's chief executive, calls the arrival of a Premier League club "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" which lifts the scheme from being an enormous retail park to "Destination Kirkby", a development to transform the town's image and aspirations.

The club's involvement is, therefore, so significant to Tesco - which will expect to make £1m a week - that the development is to subsidise the cost of building the stadium, by £52m. Everton must find just £78m themselves, to build a stadium with a larger capacity - and dining and corporate facilities - they cannot deliver at grand, groaning Goodison. That financial reality persuaded the former chief executive Keith Wyness, and now his acting replacement, Robert Elstone, to become ardent proponents of the plan.

Everton's chairman, Bill Kenwright, an avowedly sentimental Blue, was never as enthusiastic, admitting that he did not want to be for ever known as the man who moved Everton out of Liverpool. Yet after years of fruitless talk about a new stadium, he advocates this plan on one simple basis: needs must.

In their recently published accounts, to May 2008, Everton showed a small profit of £26,000, following a £9.4m loss the previous year. Turnover, in the first season of the Premier League's £2.7bn TV deal, and with David Moyes' side having finished fifth, increased to £75.65m. Not bad, and all at Goodison, but Everton still feel strapped trying to keep up with the so-called big four; their borrowings and bank overdraft increased £10m to £40m, and total creditors were up from £66m to £84m.

Kenwright has constantly pushed the club's borrowings to provide Moyes with a fund for signings, but maintains it cannot continue. Everton appointed the merchant banker Keith Harris to find a rich backer, but Harris admitted Everton, with a stadium to build, were not football's most attractive prospect even before recession put the brakes on takeovers generally. To KEIOC and other Everton fans who protest that "a mid-level quality stadium" in Kirkby, as Tesco's own consultants, DTZ, describe it, is not good enough, Kenwright argues there is, financially, no choice. A ballot of supporters, held in August 2007, was promoted by the club with the glum prognosis: "There is no Plan B."

Just under 60% of Everton fans agreed with that, while 41% voted against Kirkby, and so Kenwright tied the club's future to Tesco. Evidence submitted to the public inquiry on behalf of Everton by the sports consultants Deloitte shows a surprisingly small financial benefit expected from all this struggle - just £6m a year extra, and that is based on the club almost filling a 50,000-seat stadium every time. This is no Emirates Stadium, which doubled Arsenal's turnover, and where the old Highbury could be redeveloped into luxury apartments. Everton still do not know how they will raise even the £78m required, and Goodison, itself in a deprived area with rows of boarded-up terrace houses, will not fetch a fortune.

Outsiders cannot understand why the two Liverpool clubs do not together build a landmark stadium to share, especially given Liverpool's failure to raise the £400m said to be required for their own new home planned for Stanley Park. In July the north American owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, must refinance the club's £350m bank borrowing facilities, of which £270m is understood to have been spent - £185m of it on buying the club in the first place. They are expected to find that difficult in a global financial crisis, and borrowing £400m on top looks fanciful. Liverpool's new stadium designs, more than a decade in discussion, are, for the foreseeable future, computer-generated pipe dreams.

Yet the clubs are still set against sharing a stadium - and even if they make that imaginative leap, do not have access, even together, to the money required.

So Everton continue to hitch their future to the Kirkby move which, for £6m a year extra, has substantial hurdles still to overcome. The public inquiry, which opened on 18 November last year, is due to finish on 6 February, then the Planning Inspector is expected to take around three months to report. Even then, the government will take its time, and is not duty-bound to follow her recommendations. Everton, with no Sheikh Mansour on the horizon, do in reality have a Plan B, which they may yet need. It is to stay at Goodison Park, and continue to make the best of it.

 

Daily Post

 

Everton FC has lost an inquiry to build homes on its former training ground, resulting in the loss of up £10m for the club.

The club's board of directors and chairman Bill Kenwright are understood to be furious about the decision.

The income from the sale of the land was due to part fund the club's £78m contribution towards its proposed move to a new home in Kirkby, which is currently the subject of a separate public inquiry.

The Daily Post understands the loss of between £8m and £10m will not impact on the proposed move, as the club will now find the cash from other sources.

A source close to the club hit out and said: "It does now seem as if certain individuals and the council are determined to ruin Everton Football Club."

Council leader Warren Bradley called on the club to meet the council to work out a way forward for developing Bellefield.

Last year, Everton moved to its new training ground at Finch Farm in Halewood, freeing up the 8.9-acre Bellefield site in West Derby for housing.

A source close to the club said: "We have spent the past three to four years trying desperately hard to work with Liverpool City Council, but it does now seem as if certain individuals and the council are determined to ruin Everton Football Club.

"There's absolutely no doubt at all that this has been Liverpool City Council's way of punishing the club for having the audacity to attempt to safeguard its long term future by way of moving to a new home in Kirkby outside the Liverpool city boundary.

"The club has constantly stated that in an ideal world it would definitely prefer to remain inside Liverpool, sadly the city council has done nothing at all to facilitate that.

"It sometimes seems that certain key people inside the city council have not attempted to help the football club.

"It appears to many people at Goodison Park that as they can't or were not willing to help us remain in Liverpool they decided to make it as difficult as possible for us to leave.

 

Daily Post

 

Leighton Baines believes Liverpool were running scared of Victor Anichebe - as David Moyes warned Everton's neighbours to expect more of the same at the weekend.

Anichebe produced an impressive performance in Monday's derby draw at Anfield after replacing the suspended Marouane Fellaini to partner Tim Cahill in attack.

On only his fourth Premier League start of the season, the 20-year-old harassed the Liverpool defence and claimed a penalty when clashing with Martin Skrtel inside the area during the second half.

And team-mate Baines reckons the Anfield outfit will not be looking forward to locking horns with an abrasive Anichebe again in Sunday's FA Cup fourth round tie.

"I thought Victor was fantastic," said the left-back. "He's still quite young, but he's so strong I think he caused them problems all night.

"I think you'll see that they didn't really want to get into any kind of battles with him because he was shrugging people off, chasing balls down and he was causing problems."

Baines himself posted perhaps his best Everton display since signing from Wigan Athletic for £6million in the summer of 2007.

The 24-year-old has benefited from a run of games in the team, but a modest Baines added: "I'm happy to get involved and to help the team out - everyone had to muck in a do their bit and all the lads did that.

"I think the first half was a bit edgy, but the second half started a little bit better for both sides and I think in the end we deserved the point. As soon as we went 1-0 down, I think we were a better side. It was almost like it lifted a bit of pressure and there was nothing to lose."

Daily Post

 

Dirk Kuyt revealed the determination among Liverpool's squad to "put things right" after their derby disappointment on Monday.

Everton put a significant dent in the title hopes of their neighbours by snatching a 1-1 draw at Anfield.

After leading the table for more than a month, Rafael Benitez's side are now second behind leaders Manchester United on goal difference having played a game more.

Liverpool entertain Mersey rivals Everton again on Sunday in their FA Cup fourth round tie, and Kuyt said: "We wanted to beat them and thought we could win, but now we want put things right on Sunday. We will learn from the mistakes we made against them, and we will be ready for them in the cup game.

"We are very disappointed at the moment. We controlled the game, had some good chances and scored a great goal through Stevie, so it's difficult to accept this kind of result when you concede so late in the game."

Fabio Aurelio joined his team-mate in admitting Liverpool must cut out the errors if they are to make amends in the FA Cup tie on Sunday.

"It was a tough game and both sides were fighting for everything," said the Brazilian. "I don't think it was a very good game in terms of the football that was played but both teams put all of their effort into it.

"We know that they have been scoring a lot of goals from set-pieces. There is nothing we can do to change it now so all we can do is focus on our next game which is again against Everton.

"But we have to learn from our mistakes - that is always important, especially when you have conceded a late goal.

"It is always difficult to defend those kind of free-kicks, particularly when the opposition has a very good taker and good headers of the ball. But I think we can improve."

Aurelio paid tribute to Steven Gerrard, who marked his 250th game as Liverpool skipper with a trademark strike from 25 yards to give Liverpool a 68th-minute lead that was equalised by

"It was a fantastic goal by Steven," said Aurelio.

"Everyone knows what he is capable of when he gets the ball in these positions and it was a really good strike.

"I thought it could have been enough to win the game, but unfortunately it did not turn out that way."

Title rivals United have won eight of their last 10 games without conceding a goal and dropping just four points from 30. During the same period, Liverpool have won just four times and taken only 18 points compared to United's 26.

Four of those games have been home draws, with the Everton stalemate following those against Fulham, West Ham United and Hull City.

But Spanish winger Albert Riera said: "We've dropped a lot of points at home this season through draws, but this wasn't like the other times.

"In the other games, the teams were mainly here to defend and we simply couldn't break them down.

"But against Everton we got the goal, and we could have even scored in the first half when Fernando hit the post.

"It wasn't like the Fulham or West Ham games.

"We created chances on Monday, and we don't feel disappointed in the same way we did after those games."

 

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