Whilst Leeds United fans can be understandably excited by the signing of Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, the move must surely ring some alarm bells at Everton.
Lonergan spent time at the back end of last season training at Goodison Park and a move was reportedly close to being agreed. However, United have pipped them to his signing, apparently due to the Toffees’ inability to stump up the £200k fee.
Everton’s finances, or lack of them, have been well-documented in the past. A club that has qualified for the Champions League despite a stringent budget, usually signing cast-offs (Phil Neville, Tim Howard, Sylvain Distin), taking a chance on lower league players (Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Jermaine Beckford) or finding a foreign diamond (Fellaini, Arteta, Coleman). It begs the question, why has nobody bought, or at least invested in, Everton?
The Toffees have watched Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers and Sunderland, amongst others, be taken over. But yet, they are never even linked with an influx of cash. But why is this?
Birmingham was taken over by Chinese owners, as Birmingham has a high Chinese population. Blackburn was taken over by the Indian poultry firm Venky’s, again, the area is heavily-populated by ethnics, in this case Indians. So that clears those two up, they were both bought by owners who can relate to the demographic of the area. But that doesn’t really help Everton. Liverpool is 94.3% populated by white people, meaning ethnicities are not as popular as in areas such as Birmingham (29.6% ethnicity rate) and Blackburn (27.5% Asian), so foreign owners would not be looking at Everton as a club to buy and promote abroad.
Sunderland were taken over by American Ellis Short, and whilst there are not many Americans in the North-East, Sunderland have one big pull to investors that Everton don’t; a large, new stadium.
The first thing any buyer would need to do is make Everton’s proposed new stadium happen. Whether it is sharing with Liverpool, or a stadium all of their own, Everton need to replace Goodison Park. A renovation and expansion is out of the question due to the amount of residential housing surrounding the ground.
Obviously, the government need to help Everton out and give them permission to build a stadium at the earmarked Kirkby, but a new owner with promises of bags of investment could well twist their arm.
However, manager David Moyes has stated that the club doesn’t need new owners, he’s quite happy with the board he has, just that need substantial investment; something Chairman Bill Kenwright agrees with.
“”New ownership isn’t always the solution to everything. What you want is the right people and the right people are already at Everton. We don’t need new owners; we need an investment of money.” Moyes told The Guardian back in 2011.
Moyes is a huge pull to any new investors. The work he has done on the budgets he has been given is nothing short of miraculous. Any new investor would look to tie Moyes down, and he has personally stated he doesn’t need bags of cash to get the Toffees progressing. Music to the ears of investors.
“Maybe the football team doesn’t need £100m. Maybe the football team needs an amount that would give it a chance to breathe again and grow a little bit more. That’s maybe why we don’t need a zillionaire,” he again told the Guardian.
Another good omen for the Toffees is their youth academy. However, at the moment a bad point is that these talents are often sold on to bigger clubs. The main example, of course, being Wayne Rooney. Sold to Manchester United for close to £30m, the club had to sell him in order to fund Moyes’ push for European and Champions League football.
Everton fans will be hoping that Jack Rodwell will not follow suit. The talented anchorman has been linked to United, but so far, the club has managed to retain him.
However, an impressive season would create more interest in him, and others, and Everton will need new investment to feel they can turn down the big money bids that could come their way.
For an in-depth look at Everton’s finances and the influence that has on their potential buyers, I would definitely recommend you read the brilliant @SwissRamble’s blog. The Everton link can be found here