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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Biting my lip
Tucking into the Portuguese equivalent of the proverbial prawn sandwich last week, I looked out with some envy at the army of Evertonians who were able over the course of the evening to express their true emotions.
You might not believe me, but I'd have swapped seats in an instant. Swapped seats to be able to express and share all that anticipation and expectation pre-match and then, post-match to let it all out.
Again, it might not seem like it, but it can be a tough job smiling politely and shaking hands when you want to kick the seat and swear loudly.....and badly! Sometimes you just can't find that quiet corner.
Our support was fantastic. Our hosts were full of compliments. And, everyone I met talked about a great day in Lisbon. However, back at the airport on the way home, the disappointment ran deep. I think we all sense there is a trophy there with our name on it and nobody more so than David and the first team squad. I know they felt the disappointment more intensely than anyone.
I also know that our resolve, next season, can only be stronger.
Sadly, we experienced similar frustrations on Sunday at White Hart Lane. Absolute dominance in the second-half couldn't claw back the mountain we'd left ourselves to climb by half-time. Of course, we should have made it back and it hurt, and it was a long, miserable drive home up the M6. But, still, we have plenty to play for and your support will be so important to us.
Season Tickets 2010/11
And on the subject of support, you will have seen we have announced Season Ticket prices. The decision on Season Ticket pricing is never easy but after careful consideration - including consultation with supporters - we feel we have a generated an offer which remains competitive and affordable, especially for our junior fans.
After two years of price freezes and the ever-present need to grow our income to keep pace with our rivals, we felt moving in this direction was indeed the right decision. It's true the tax man is taking the lion's share of the increase through the increase VAT rate but we know that's not your concern and a price rise is a price rise. What we have to do is spend the money wisely - developing, maintaining and improving our playing squad; we have to keep delivering value for money.
And, as with last year, the best value for money is to be had by buying early. Four free games are ‘available' by buying before 17th April and if you buy with the Everton MasterCard, and there's no interest and flexible repayment up to the end of November.
Alternatively, if, you need the discipline of a formal repayment plan then the improved direct debit service offers that over as many as five instalments.
At the end of the day, we know it has increased and £500 is £500 and finding that amount of money is not easy and sacrifices are made by all our Season Ticket holders. We do recognise this and appreciate your support, support which allows us to be the Club we are.
On a personal basis, stadium work is keeping me and a couple of the team busy. As we've reported in the past few weeks, post-Kirkby we've set about two, parallel strands of work. Firstly, a review of Goodison Park options, and secondly, a joint City Council/Club working group tasked with a fresh search for a new site. All that work is nearing conclusion and will be reported on in the next few weeks.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked about the Club's stadium vision. At one level, I responded by emphasising our current deficiencies were largely ‘quality rather than quantity'. Our priority must be to improve the standard of our seats, our concourses, our lounges and our shop. Of course, that's not to say, we couldn't fill more seats.
At perhaps a higher level, I responded on three levels: our stadium should reflect our rich and deep heritage - highlighting and showcasing the people and events that have placed us where we are today; it should also represent what we stand for today - inclusive, community-based and innovative, and there are great opportunities, with a new site to embrace city-led sporting or educational initiatives; finally, it should, of course, be fit for purpose today and for the foreseeable future - big enough, flexible enough, robust enough for the future of the Club and the sport.
What's evident to me is within the Club, its fans, the City and our advisers, there's no shortage of ideas and creativity. Broadly, we know what we want and what we need. Pouring some cold water on the situation, there is, however, a shortage of money and that's where there's a real need for creativity and collaboration. As we've said in the past, and as we're working on right now, the Club, its owners, its partners, the City Council, potential developers and all the regional investment and regeneration bodies need to work together to find that solution. All share the responsibility to find a solution. A solution made all the more difficult by tightening purse strings and political instability.
There is much to play for on and off the field and support is everything.
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