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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A Moment of Reflection
I was asked on Radio City’s ‘Terrace Talk’ at the weekend for a reflection on the season. It has to be some fantastic ‘highs’, tinged with a real feeling of ‘what might have been’.
I thought about Ossie’s reaction when asked the same question at our wonderful Awards Night last week, and with a shrug of the shoulders and almost a shake of the head it was ‘OK’. Wins against United, Chelsea and Man City twice being described as ‘OK’ says an awful lot about the desire and spirit in the camp and where our expectations currently sit.
And it’s clear it’s a view shared by you. 22,500 season ticket holders already on board for 2010/11 endorse the expectations, the optimism and the desire and spirit on the terraces. Forgive the rhetoric, but season ticket support is the bedrock of the Club and the most important line in our budgets. Thank you to everyone who has made that pledge three months before a ball is kicked.
If you will indulge me on a couple more thank yous. 2009/10 was our first year with Kitbag and even with very high expectations, they didn’t let us down.
Not everyone loved the home shirt, not everyone loved the away shirt but Kitbag has reported record retail sales and has reaped the reward from their investment in great products, great staff and great facilities. I’m delighted they’ve had such a great year. I’m delighted to have a retail business to be proud of.
We should also thank Kitbag for helping us to raise our impressive donation to our nominated charity, Liverpool Unites. Presenting a cheque for £150,000 is quite an achievement.
As we all know, Chang are far from new, in fact last season was our sixth season with Chang as main partner and as we enter 2010/11, I believe the deal will become the longest in the Premier League. It’s also near the top of Premier League shirt values and alongside the great work they do in Bangkok; we’re delighted to be in such a mutually rewarding partnership. Thanks to both our principal partners.
I would also like to thank all the staff at Goodison. The team is genuinely committed to making Everton a better Club; committed to listening to our fans and committed to responding when things aren’t right. And, I’m happy to ‘lead from the front’ on that one. Let me know if we don’t deliver as we should.
Blues on Tour
It’s set to be an exciting summer; ‘Everton Down Under’ and a Goodison Park welcome to Everton Chile. The former will be the base for the Manager’s critical pre-season training camp. First day back and out to Sydney for the ‘hard yards’ that will carry the boys through the season. It will also see us taking on the A-League with games against Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. I’m hopeful we can get news of official travel packages out to you soon.
As for Everton Chile, confirming the game was on brought big smiles to many faces, which is always good and a good sign we’ll get some great support. Pre-season games at Goodison have struggled to capture the imagination but I’m sure, with some sensible pricing, we can attract a great crowd for such an historic and unique game. Anyone who knows their history knows Everton vs Everton is a fixture to be treasure.
New City Council, Fresh Discussions
Hopefully, discussions with Liverpool City Council and the newly-elected Labour leader will also be exciting. The truth is, as I said on Terrace Talk, the City Council does hold the key to a new stadium; a new stadium that’s so important to us to keep pace at the top of the Premier League. Going over old ground, but Goodison redevelopment has an uncertain time frame, an uncertain cost, restricted funding streams and no guarantee, ultimately, of success.
It’s also worth pointing out, apologies again if this is repetition, but design is not our current challenge. Well-intentioned as they might be plans such as the so-called ‘Siamese Stadium’ don’t really take us anywhere.
There are many, many versions of what our new stadium should look like, either on its own, at Goodison or elsewhere, shared or ‘joined at the hip’ and when such schemes receive media backing, inevitably the expectations of our fans are falsely raised.
Specifically on the ‘Siamese Stadium’, we did see the designs a while ago and there has been brief, correspondence with our advisers but all dialogue emphasised our issues and identified many challenges which, it seems, haven’t been addressed.
What is very evident, to bring a stadium to life is a Kirkby-type funding model with substantial private sector support facilitated by a supportive and progressive City Council. ‘Being supportive’, in my view, needs the Council to fully appreciate the significance and contribution made by Everton Football Club to the City and its communities; an indisputable fact that all too often seems to be overlooked. We look forward to fresh and progressive dialogue which centres on the delivery of a funding model and an affordable stadium.
Building and Strengthening
I’m not sure exciting will be the word to describe the next three or four months that will be consumed by efforts to strengthen the squad, but that task is at the very top of our list of priorities.
As we finalise budgets, and identify funds, we move into the player market and consider the existing playing squad with the sole objective of starting 2010/11 with a stronger, more competitive squad than the season just finished.
It’s a tough job with budgets less than the majority of our rivals and when faced perhaps with smaller pockets than the Clubs above us, skill and hard work are the only ways to compensate and make up those deficits.
Skill identifying talent and skill negotiating deals is critical and again, coming back to my comments on the radio at the weekend, our Chairman and our Manager have over 20 years combined experience. That experience is envied by all our rivals and that experience has secured our best squad in years.
Hopefully, all the Everton team gets the chance to have a break. After the best part of ten and half months, the players and management definitely deserve a break and Sydney sand dunes are only seven weeks away! For many of those away from Finch Farm, for nine months of the year, it’s a six-day-a-week job and recharging batteries is important. The off-field team needs its break too.
I know also most of you will also be looking forward to holidays and I hope you manage to relax, cheer Bainsey on to his winners’ medal in South Africa (and when it’s right of course, all our World Cup boys), and come back in great voice ready to roar on the Blues.
Thanks for your support!
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