Alright lads, just thought I├é┬┤d let you know about the Everton Fans Conference that I was lucky enough to attend tonight at Goodison.
It was a free two hour event in the Alex Young Suite, for season ticket holders who have had their ticket for the past 10 or more consecutive years. Robert Elstone, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka and Graeme Sharp were the main speakers. Alan Irwin from Radio City was the compere. There was about 100 or so fans. Free scouse and free bottles of Chang for everyone. Everyone attending was given an A3 size team photo poster that was personalised with their own name on, that could be signed by Baines & Jags, as well as smaller photos of Jags, Baines and also Sharpy.
Main points of interest:
– Baines & Jagielka were interviewed. Irwin asked them about their experiences midweek with England, and what their first hand accounts of the events were. Both seemed really nice, down to earth lads. Irwin was joking with them about loading up on caffeine and sleeping tablets, but Jags just said he slept like a log after coming back from the postponed game, after a midnight table tennis match with Gary Cahill. They spoke a bit about our progress this season, and how QPR could be a banana skin if we├é┬┤re not careful. Baines spoke about the signing of Hitzlsperger, and how he├é┬┤s a great lad, has looked in training, and could be useful in the next two games for keeping things secure in front of the defence. They then spent about 30 minutes going around all the tables, posing for a group photo at each table, as well as some individual photos, and signed autographs for every one. It was really nice meeting them. After this, they left.
– Robert Elstone spoke next. Amongst the interesting things of note:
*Investment – nothing has changed. Club continues to talk to people. Confidentially agreements are signed. Interested parties then disappear. Reasons for their departures from the negotiating table are either unknown, or can├é┬┤t be stated publicly due to the confidentiality agreement. Club is currently holding meeting with a new interested party. Watch this space! He didn├é┬┤t actually say ├é┬┤Watch this space├é┬┤.
*Stadium – the most interesting thing he said was about this subject. The biggest news is that the club is finally seeing the light, and is moving away from the idea of a retail-led stadium development. Hooray! Finding the money for a new stadium is as hard as ever. Staying at Goodison is still not an option, because the time and costs for buying properties, knocking down streets, renovating a stand at a time, for a meagre increase in seats, no prospect of stadium rights because everyone would still call it Goodison, lack of major increase in executive facilities etc, means it is a non-starter and not feasible.
Ah, but what about LFC, I hear you cry! Well, Elstone was interestingly rather sceptical about the LFC plans, saying that they only said they were redeveloping Anfield because they didn├é┬┤t just want to announce the bad news that they weren├é┬┤t building on Stanley Park after all. He├é┬┤s very sceptical about how LFC will fund it, saying £150m for an increase of 15,000 seats is £10,000 per extra seat, which is exorbitant and not worth it. He doubted the ease at which houses will be bought up. He basically said if redeveloping Anfield was so easy, why have they spent 12 years trying to move to a new stadium. He was careful with what he said, but he later agreed with a fans question about how LCC was basically favouring them over us, that LFC do little for the local community whereas we do loads and win awards for it, that LCC needs ├é┬┤dynamic members who want to help us and who aren├é┬┤t there at the moment├é┬┤. He said Joe Anderson is a good blue and tries, but even as the leader, he├é┬┤s only one man.
He touched on the Park End development. He confirmed that the plan stalled because Prudential who own a very small part of the Goodison footprint would not release equity on the land and were very unreasonable and wanted to draw up new loan agreements which the club disagreed with. He said it isn├é┬┤t dead in the water, but that they├é┬┤re working on something to do with it.
He said AGMs are still banned because Kenwright and the board are still upset over the last time AGMs were held and ├é┬┤proxies├é┬┤ tried to disrupt things by asking for repeated EGMs. He said matters weren├é┬┤t help by Kenwright feeling he was betrayed by all the Blue Union stuff last season. A return of AGMs is not imminent.
He apologised for the Leyton Orient game ticketing fiasco, saying they screwed up and sold twice as many tickets to be picked up on the night as they should have done.
He said they will be launching a new thing for the Sunderland game where home match tickets bought on line can be printed out and brought to the game to use, similar to how you can do that for concert tickets with Ticketmaster.
There├é┬┤s a feeling within the other Prem clubs that when the new Sky/BT money arrives next summer, that they shouldn├é┬┤t give it to the players and instead they should keep it and use on the club. What a novel idea! He said there might be a change to UEFA Fair Play Financial rules to ensure this happens.
He mentioned how keeping Goodison updated is a costly on-going issue, saying they spent £300,000 on improving the toilets at the ground this past summer. Yes, THREE HUNDRED GRAND.
He said there├é┬┤s little chance of ticket prices being reduced in the future, as EFC are already competitively priced.
He said the debt isn├é┬┤t decreasing, is currently being serviced, but on the bright side, isn├é┬┤t increasing either. Nor would the bank let them increase it. Although he said the club do have a good relationship with the banks.
He said the upcoming figures for 2011/2012 wouldn├é┬┤t be very good. Gates dropped to an average of 33k last season and tv money was down due to being featured far less.
He said there was money in the transfer pot for January, for maybe a loan or a permanent signing (money that had been allocated for the Belgian lad move that fell through).
He spoke for about 35 mins, then another 10 mins at the end. He came across well, as always. The questions from the fans weren├é┬┤t softballs either and he dealt with it well.
Sharp then spoke a bit for the final part. He basically talked about the season so far, saying we should have played a full strength team vs Leeds, but he understands why Moyes didn├é┬┤t. He basically said what Sharp normally says on the radio, that we can challenge for 4th, etc.
All in all, it was good event. Easy to be cynical about stuff, but other clubs wouldn├é┬┤t be doing stuff like this for the fans, so fair do├é┬┤s to them.
That├é┬┤s all I can remember off the top of my head. If anyone has any questions about anything else said, I├é┬┤ll try to answer them.