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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As promised, I sought the support of our fellow Premier League clubs last week to change the allocation of FA Cup final tickets for future finals.
I’m pleased to report that all clubs agreed that the allocation is inadequate and unjust and all backed a formal approach to the FA via the Premier League’s Cup Committee.
The FA was in attendance and clearly understood not just our feelings but the view of the entire room and whilst one of the clubs, perhaps cynically or, unfortunately, perhaps based on experience whispered ‘good luck’, I’ll continue to lead the fight for change. I think a two-thirds allocation to the participating teams is achievable and I’ll keep pressing on behalf of all future Cup final fans.
Premier League meetings are scheduled bi-monthly but the summer meeting is a two day affair to consider rule changes and key issues of the day. This year, most of the meeting covered youth development and the need for the Premier League to fall in line with UEFA quotas on the proportion of home grown players in squads.
I have to say, I’m very much opposed to quotas and believe the Club operates a very good Academy which develops young, talented footballers with a clear pathway into first team football. This process costs us a lot of money but it’s money well spent and I don’t think we should be influenced or governed by quotas, purporting to improve the national team, but with very little in the way of evidence to suggest they work.
Our national team’s FIFA ranking is as high as it has been for many years and whilst I know it’s easy to be complacent or have our ‘heads in the sand’, I think the Premier League is in good shape.
On a similar subject, we debated lifting the ‘drive time’ rule where Academy boys can only be recruited within a 90 minute travel time. Some of the smaller clubs were keen to retain this rule to ‘protect’ their young players from the cheque books of the ‘big boys’.
My view is the best way to protect your young players is to build and manage a great Academy and offer plenty of opportunity to progress into senior ranks. In those circumstances, talented young footballers won’t want to leave. I spent a few years working in Rugby League and the game fell foul of heavy handed regulation which was regularly disputed and challenged, often measured the wrong things and always took time and resource to implement and check.
However, I do recognise that like it or not politics plays a role in our sport and much as we’d like to run our Club as we wish and our League based on ‘free market’ principles, it’s not always possible and not always advisable.
The Premier League’s next key task will be to secure future international live TV rights. We’re about to start the final year of the current TV rights deal and have already secured the next three year’s domestic rights deal (Sky and Setanta).
Expectations on international rights remain high and the Premier League will spend the next six months securing deals by territory directly with international broadcasters. If you’re interested, Everton generally takes more than one-twentieth of the domestic rights fees as a result of finishing above mid-way and being ‘better than average’ on TV appearances, however, all clubs take one-twentieth of the international rights. As a consequence of this uncertainty, at this stage, budgets for 2010/11 are difficult to finalise.
Our 2008/09 results benefit from a back-to-back fifth place finish and, of course, an FA Cup final. Both results mean we’re better than budget and are able to make good some of the shortfall on average attendances. However, this emphasises how important attendances are to our ‘bread and butter’ revenues and why it’s so important that we secure average gates close to 37,000. We can only do that if we can rely on a ‘bedrock’ of a healthy season ticket base and I’m pleased to report we’re well over 22,000 season ticket holders, for 2009/10, at the beginning of June.
The Club thanks all those fans who’ve renewed for next season. Our marketing campaign has now turned to promoting the availability of some great seats and as all Evertonians know, there’s plenty of ‘variety’ in the quality of seats at Goodison. Right now there’s a chance to secure a great seat for the whole season and our fan centre staff will be delighted to meet with you to show you in person.
We’re hopeful 2009/10 will see record retail sales. I’m delighted to be working with a partner who shares our ambition for customer service, product range and our retail ‘brand’ and we’re all excited by the prospect of a new megastore – Everton One, the fantastic new shop in Liverpool One, Everton Two and a market-leading retail website. Kitbag Limited has made a big investment in our Club and I know they’ll be worthy of our support and your custom.
All this revenue can only go to help support the funds that are made available to David for team strengthening during this summer and beyond. We are constantly reviewing all our options to ensure we’re doing everything we can do to secure David’s chosen players. Of course, we must also capitalise on our core strengths - the stability of the squad, the team spirit and the nucleus or ‘spine’ of talented footballers committed to the Club. Securing the long term commitment of Jagielka, Yobo and Howard cements these qualities even further. Great news for all Evertonians!
2008/09 has been a great season for the Club, its fans and our staff. Can I conclude by going ‘on the record’ to say thanks for your great support and thanks to my team for ‘going the extra mile’ and maintaining the progress demanded if we are to make Everton the best football club in the world.
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