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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I can’t remember my last blog. I think it was FA Cup Final time. If it was then it would have been mainly about tickets – quantities, black market and allocations. On the former, I pleased to say that I’ve started dialogue with the new Chief Executive of the FA, who has promised me that they will review the hopelessly inadequate allocation for the finalists. I’ll keep ‘pushing for justice’.
As always, a lot has happened, a lot is happening; an awful cliché I know but there really never is a dull moment. I know you don’t want to hear about bike rides, Everton Two and season ticket sales - the summer transfer window was ‘where the action was’ and it was quite some summer!
In fact it started well before the summer. We met as a Board, including the Manager, in late March and discussed and agreed squad needs and transfer and wages budgets. Post Cup final, the Chairman and I began to follow up on the Manager’s targets. As was widely reported in the press, this included Senderos, Delph, Elm and Naughton and much work was progressed on each player. Every deal includes a player, an agent, a selling club and inevitably some competition and, as a result, and without an unrestricted cheque book, each deal is difficult, protracted and has a high propensity to ‘unravel’. For various differing reasons, that’s what happened on each of those prospects.
Perhaps most frustrating was Naughton. We reached written agreement with Sheffield United, who also confirmed as such on their website and we also agreed a deal with the agent who told us the player wanted to come to Everton. Twelve hours later the player had changed his mind about the ‘Club of his dreams’ and he opted to join Spurs after they declared an interest. Of course, we didn’t take it lying down and spent the best part of a week fighting for the player. Sadly, all that work was wasted.
At this point, we were still working and negotiating within our original budget which meant we were still determined to fend of Manchester City and retain Lescott. What became very clear was that City were determined to land the player and were prepared to do whatever it took to get him to Eastlands.
By early August, despite our efforts to keep Lescott - what clinched it of course was the player stating in writing and emphatically that he wanted to go, we reluctantly agreed to talk. Press speculation on the initial bids, were reasonably accurate – the media is either very good at guessing or ‘they have their sources’ – but we knew City wanted their man and they have very deep pockets and, accordingly, as you would expect, we sought to take advantage of this. Over the course of three to four very intensive days, our Chairman drove up the final fee substantially.
Of course, concluding on Lescott, changed the Manager’s needs and his spending power. Manager, Chairman, scouts, Club Secretary, Finance Director and CEO became totally and exclusively focused on replacing Lescott and strengthening the squad. What ensued was an intensive and demanding fortnight which was always going to ‘run down to the wire’. It did!
Bilyaletdinov was followed by Distin, then Heitinga and now, of course, Lucas Neill and, as we all know, time will tell. We don’t ‘’play on paper’ but everyone here is optimistic; everyone is excited. Trips to Hamburg, final day planes from Amsterdam and hours and hours of ‘midnight oil’ negotiation will bear fruit, I’m sure!
Speaking on the Daily Post website last week, I was challenged about how much we’ve spent. Are we continuing to support the Manager to the limit? Are we looking to build on the successes of 2008/09? The answer is absolutely yes. The answer is that the Lescott proceeds, after the sell-on fee payable to Wolves, and after funding the not unsubstantial agents’ fees, transfer levies, solidarity payments and financing charges, and after picking up a significant increase in our player wage costs has been more than fully spent. In fact there’s been an ‘overspend’ by more than the original budget we set when we were trying to sign Naughton, Delph, Elm and others, in June.
All our efforts have been directed at maximising our investment in players and negotiating skilfully to get the best talent at the best price. Current Dutch, Russian and now, Australian internationals along with a proven and experienced Premier League centre half have replaced yes, an England centre half but also Van der Meyde, Castillo, Jacobsen and Nuno. It does feel like a summer well spent.
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