Sunday, 26 April 2015

The Royal Blue Cloud of Unknowing

Kenwright: Divisive, to say the least.  

The perception of Mr. Bill Kenwright among fans of Everton Football Club is not a unanimous one. For every Evertonian who wants the club purged of its owner for not investing as he should and seemingly not looking to sell up either, there is a fellow Blue who believes in Kenwright's commitment and is thankful for him keeping the club afloat.

Now there is nothing wrong with being thankful to Kenwright for helping stabilise the club. But there is a sense that he has lived on that reputation for far too long. And so on the flipside there is also nothing wrong with wanting the owner show more ambition than he does or for him to sell the club on to somebody who can propel Everton Football Club to new highs.

And this is the fundamental problem. Kenwright is the good guy and the bad guy at the same time; if the owner is guilty of the accusations that many Evertonians will level at him, then he sits in an idyllic position on his royal blue throne. As long as there remains a split between the fans, Kenwright will keep hold of the reins of our club until something forces him to sell.

Understandably, everything seems somewhat foggy to say the least.

A perfect example of this is the infamous question, "where's the Arteta money?", used so often in a humorous manner that it has become a parody of itself. However, if you think about it, it sums up the exact type of confusion that is generated by Everton's board; at the time the club was struggling for cash to spend on players and a large sum of money seemed to simply disappear into thin air.

Robert Elstone admitted it had all been used up on players' contracts, loan fees and further internal matters. Regardless of whether or not the chief executive's explanation was the truth, why was there such a great deal of secrecy around the whole incident in the first place?

This is seemingly typical of our club these days. Just like Kenwright appears to be both Jekyll and Hyde at the exact same time, it is not clear where money goes and why particular decisions are made. Surveys emerge now and again in which enigmatic Evertonians seem to have reached a consensus that the club is run very well, which contributes to intensified confusion. Throw in the odd mention of potential investment and a new stadium and suddenly nobody knows which way is up and which is down.

In addition to this the Liverpoool Echo's stance on these stigmatised matters does not help. First of all, Lee Carsley's article on the owner painted Kenwright as some sort of perfect saviour, which links to a point made earlier in this article: he is still supported by the reputation he created for himself many years ago. Furthermore, what has incensed many Evertonians is how the Echo questioned Liverpool's three-year absence of trophies and not Everton’s two-decade void. Again, questions have arisen: WHY is the topic of Everton's mediocre ownership quite so stigmatised? WHY is it barely ever questioned in the media? WHY is the club's situation painted as fine and dandy when in reality it is not? WHY are there never any answers to these questions?

If this unrest is going no further than Twitter and online forums - for it will not reach national level if it is not gaining regional exposure - then what hope do we have? Even the Newcastle fans' attempt at boycotting their home fixture against Tottenham did not have its desired effect. Although the attendance was a season-long low and has therefore made significant news, there were still around 47,000 people at St. James’ Park.  Perhaps this is also due to a divided stance: while the Magpies are evidently under-performing at the moment, there is also hope of a new manager and money to spend on the horizon. 

On the other hand a striking amount of AC Milan fans recently boycotted the club's Serie A fixture against Cagliari, encouraged by the fan group Curva Sud. Many of those who attended the match brought banners to protest about the club's poor ownership and mediocrity as they sit 9th in the league and without European competition. Depressingly, the San Siro was virtually empty; yet creditably the fans have made their stance on the club’s ownership very clear.

A statement on read:

"How many times have we made sacrifices for Milan? How many times have we saved up to buy a new shirt, to be able to go to the stadium, to renew our season tickets? There's one thing that's been lacking...clarity!"

And it is the same problem back at Goodison Park. When we need it most, there is no clarity. There seems to be no real objective, minimal funds available and to add even more kindle to this huge fire the performances have been mostly embarrassing and infuriating this season. 

It is unlikely that there is a major conspiracy ongoing behind closed doors at Goodison Park; yet it is evident that something is not right, and the fans who pour money into the club week in, week out, are not treated with the respect they deserve. Nobody seems to know what is truly going on, there are more questions than answers and it seems very unlikely that the brilliant and historic Everton Football Club will ever consistently hit top form until everything becomes clear or it changes hands. Attempting to gain an understanding of what is going on here really is like trying to catch smoke with your bare hands.

To conclude then, below is a quotation taken from the Guardian archives. The article from which it comes is entitled ‘Dream script for Kenwright’ and is dated Wednesday 26th January, 2000 when Bill Kenwright had just taken over Everton Football Club. Take a moment to reflect on how little his words seem to ring true today:

“Acquiring Peter Johnson's shares is only the first step to restoring a great club to where it belongs - to where it should be. If you are going to run a successful football club you need two qualities: you need to be realistic and you need a plan. I'm realistic and I have a plan.”


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