It can’t have surprised many that Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was the Protestor. From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street (and the ever-so-slightly comical “Occupy Detroit”) to the London riots – protests were everywhere. In Washington DC, there was even growing tumult against protests, culminating in a “March to Restore Sanity”.
The atmosphere of revolt was bound to bounce over to the Premier League, but in doing so it has become ridiculous. We’ve had protests outside the ground, protests inside the ground, even protests flying over the ground, a liberal sprinkling of half time and full time boos and chants of “You don’t know what you’re doing”.
“When it comes to sticking it to The Man, British football fans are always up for a protest as long as it doesn’t require much effort. Anything that results in them actually having to miss a game, or requires them to deviate from their usual match-day behaviour is out of the question, which means the ‘march’ from a pub they were going to be in anyway to a match they were going to anyway has become a staple of disaffected British football fans.”
Even stroppy Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs carry “Bates Out!” banners to their gigs, neatly fitting a protest in while they riff and wail. When we complain about not winning enough we can’t help sounding spoilt. New generations of football fans, brought up on minute-by-minute reports, and up-to-the-second Twitter feeds feel entitled to moan the instant things go wrong.
Arsenal fans against Tottenham were one massive James Corden tribute. The ultimate ingrate, a man poured into his ego but who forgot to say when, moaning that he didn’t win more Baftas. Last weekend Gooners were moaning en masse, until the tide turned and Arsenal spanked Spurs 5-2. These days holding out on booing until half time is considered long-termism. At Goodison, and online, the moans about Everton being destroyed by Man City actually happened before a ball had been kicked, solely on the strength of Moyes picking Hibbert at centre half. Where was the faith in our manager? It turns out faith only comes with three points these days.
Most football protests in the top flight are thoroughly ridiculous. We aren’t trying to overthrow a fascist regime, or topple a trigger happy dictator, this isn’t Homs, a city pock marked with bullets or a town razed by air strikes like Sirte. This is Ewood Park with Lancastrians dressed like chickens, or Goodison with a lady gamely tossing toffees from a basket at glum fans.
Last week malaise and discontent swept over The Emirates like a virus when Gooners thought they were going to lose to Spurs. Sacking Wenger is almost seen as logical by some despite the fact that they have never (N-E-V-E-R) finished outside the Champions League spots with him at the helm. Our collective rear view mirror is grubby and needs a clean, if we could look back to the 60′s we’d see a bubbling primordial soup where the league was totally unpredictable. Nowadays too many fans have become accustomed to success, finishing top four is almost seen as average for Arsenal.
If Moyes – on a nothing budget – can guide Everton to 7th in the Prem it will elicit nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders and a “meh” to some blues. Some would say that I’m accepting mediocrity, I maintain that Everton’s finishes in the toughest league in the world have not been mediocre.
We’re protesting because the chairmen of our clubs are “plunging” us into financial chaos, and their lapdog managers are “tactically inept/naive/clueless”. Except most of the time they aren’t. The language implies a descent into the bowels of hell, the reality is one season without European football, or a fat parachute payment for being asked to slum it in the Championship. It doesn’t matter that most of the Premier League is operating at a loss, that other clubs are in the same boat. Sunderland for example operate at a HUGE loss but the loss is written off at the end of the year by their owner.
So is the problem, beyond the moaning about lies and mismanagement, simply that BK cant write off losses; that he’s poor?
Who should replace the incumbents, you ask? Depends on if your talking about Owners or Managers. Everyone wants a filthy rich owner, as long as that owner isn’t Shinawatra, Venky’s, Abramovich, Ashley, Gillett & Hicks, Yeung, Usmanov, The Glazer family. So really we want a filthy rich owner, with crisp clean morals and a spend, spend, spend philosophy. Take care of the billionaire white knight owner and the rest will take care of itself. Kenwright has been attacked for not finding this person, but does this person even exist?
When it comes to managers, it’s a thoroughly kneejerkish story – win and we like you, lose or draw and we don’t. Win without style and we still don’t really like you. I remember the instant effect Moyes had on our team when he took over, Unsworth scored after thirty seconds. But somewhere along the line some blues have developed a ten-year itch.
7th, 17th, 4th, 11th, 6th, 5th, 5th, 8th, 7th, (currently 10th)
The code above should brings optimism. Whenever we lose faith in Moyes all we need to do is remind ourselves of his finishes in the Premier League. Somehow the protest groups have broken that code. They may claim that it isn’t about the manager, but we all know that it has a lot to do with it. I’m very doubtful the protests would have been half as successful earlier this season if the team hadn’t been stalling.
“Tackling Issues, Not Individuals“
I beg to differ. This is all about individuals. Just take a look at their latest poster.
Other online protest groups have become like the Life of Brian style Judean Peoples Front/Peoples Front of Judea/Popular Judean Peoples Front.
They are the 1%, blathering on about relegation, how we’re doomed, in tailspin, in a McCarthy-esque haze of paranoia. Extremism is their lifeblood. Most of the time they are the ones who stand on Oxford Street wailing “The End is Nigh!” as we squeeze past like disinterested shoppers. Have a look at some of these websites though. It’s shocking. Moyes is a c*nt, a sh*thouse, and Kenwright is pocketing cash.
How ridiculous we are to protest. How will a protest find a buyer? Yelling “Kenwright Out!” is an entirely different thing from getting him to sell. You can scream at him, but how will that find a buyer. For some, the philosophy seems akin to “the beatings will continue until morale improves”.
Social Media is the vehicle for lots of Everton protests, it’s also something millions of people use on a regular basis. A recent study calculated that if Facebook were a country, it would be the third biggest in the world.
Everton FC Official Facebook Page
- 210,824 like this
- 12,568 talking about this
- 2,373 like this
- 246 talking about this
We all love the club. (We all want to find a buyer)
As far as Everton are concerned, the problem is simple. We love the club. All of us. The issue is that we love it in different ways, and pretty much all of us think that we love Everton the most.
- Those that sit in the stands come rain or shine think that they see the true Everton.
- Those that faithfully watch grainy intermittent internet feeds from corners of far flung lands think that they love Everton the most.
- Those that protest outside the ground think that they – clearly – love the club more than anyone else. They, after all, are the only ones with the balls to act before it’s too late. (I hate the way a few fans think that anyone who isn’t protesting – and that’s well over 90% of fans – is a Kenwright “apologist”. If there was one word that I could push off a cliff and watch it plummet to its doom, it’s “apologist”.)
- The millionaire impresario who is chairman of our club thinks he loves Everton more than anyone else. (I reject Kenwright’s assertion that no one loves the club more than him. I also find it funny that his enemies think he is unfit to sell the club. I would have thought a seasoned bullsh*t artiste with the gift of the gab and a twinkle in his eye would be perfect for selling us.)
This is the issue. Not that our impresario won’t let go of his train set, but that none of us will admit that we are anything but totally in the right. We’re right, you’re wrong. As black and white as Juventus, whereas the reality is more murky like the grey Man Utd shirt they wore for one half at the Dell.
As someone pointed out to me, protesting is definitely not Kopite behaviour. Or at least behaviour reserved for Kopites. We’ve been protesting for years, getting into a funk over everyone from Catterick to Kendall. Historically, we’ve been disgruntled for a very long time, as this Blue Kipper piece shows. Fans protested against Harry Catterick, attacking him when he dropped the Golden Vision for a young Joe Royle. He also got both barrels when he let Alan Ball go. Leaflets were spread demanding Howard Kendall’s sacking before he took Everton on our most successful period in our history. “Agent” Johnson was slammed for being a Kopite, and now we have Bill Kenwright and the current board. The man who presided over two failed stadium moves (although I’m quite glad one of them failed), and has spent 12 fruitless years looking for investment.
- Is he terrible at looking, or is there no one out there?
- Why has he cancelled meetings with shareholders?
- If he has nothing to hide, why is he using his power to silence the voices of the fans?
The various protest groups use the above questions as proof that Kenwright is unfit to run our club and that he has treated the fans disgracefully. When they moan from the cheap seats and look towards the gods, they see the smoke and mirror smile of a man whose whole raison d’etre is to hoodwink and gull. The chairman of our club, Bill Kenwright also believes he loves the club the most, and he doesn’t think anyone can do a better job than him.
In many ways Bill’s the Harry Redknapp of Chairmen, as his interview with the Blue Union shows. Like ‘Arry, Bill seems able to function without rudimentary skills; working as Chairman of Everton Football club and not even knowing what operating costs are. But Bill has ringfenced his mistakes with the fact that he is a True Blue, which to some lessens the “betrayal”. The BU have argued that if he wasn’t an Evertonian we’d have thrown him out a long time ago.
Kenwright has been slammed for his “lies” – as if he is promising something and purposefully failing to get it. I think his “lies” are those of an eternal optimist, not of a con-man. Yes he is strange. Most of the time he’s diagonally parked in a parallel universe, still sitting at the ’66 Cup Final, but is he an evil General Secretary crushing the club? No.
Bill is not whiter than white and not bluer than blue, but people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and in truth these protest groups pebble dashed their glass house a long time ago.
“the position has been clarified over and over. No recording was made. No agreement was made there were three of us there. He asked us to take notes. He talks quite passionately. It was fairly easy to recall certain aspects of the conversation. No doubt there is a lot from that meeting that we’ve missed.”
I am still very suspicious about the Blue Union meeting with Bill Kenwright. One that apparently had no secret recording devices, yet yielded forensically accurate report of the meeting. Here’s just a sample:
Simon, “Bill, can I just ask, hand on heart, Moyes has two years left on his contract, I think he’s our most important asset, what’s keeping him at Everton?” Bill, “Simon, I’ve survived three periods of death threats not to sack him, I’ve had the sh*t in the post, I’ve had the wreath, I’ve had we know where your mother lives…” Simon, “Bill, can I just say, that’s wrong, we would all….” Bill, “I know, I know, look, he’s my mate, we talk about everything.” Mark, “Okay, to answer Simon’s question, do you think he is going to extend his contract?” Bill, “Do you want him to?” Barry, “I do.” Mark, “Can’t you answer that question?” Bill, “Ask me if I’ve asked him to stay.” Mark, “Okay, have you asked him to stay?” Bill, “Yes, of course I’ve asked him.”
Mark then asked, “What’s Robert Earl’s interest in Everton?” Bill, “He bought the shares from Paul Gregg; he’s a brilliant marketer.” Mark, “But it hasn’t worked Bill….all we’ve seen is Rocky.” Barry, “Is it not in the interest of Robert Earl to come out and say I want to sell my shares?” Bill, “Well I’m speaking on behalf of Robert, Jon, Arthur and Philip; we’ve got the club, we own 75% of the Club”
To my eyes, that doesn’t look like scribbled notes, it looks like something transcribed from a recording. How do we know there isn’t a recording? Because the Blue Union told us to believe them. How do we know that Bill Kenwright is trying to sell Everton? Because Bill Kenwright has told us to believe him…
And by Dixie are both sides sensitive! Peering over statements with a magnifying glass, not looking for facts but for slights and digs no matter how small.
How do you feel about being accused of sabotaging the Club by CEO Robert Elstone?
— The Blue Union (@TheBlueUnion) January 13, 2012
Elstone said that some fans may be purposely sabotaging finances by not turning up (in itself a needless comment in a blog about finances) and the whole of Merseyside collapsed into moans. Spend a nanosecond online and you’ll find plenty of people saying that their absence from Goodison is because they hate the board and they hope it damages Kenwright’s hold on the club. You’ll fall over statements like that like a parent over their kid’s toys, they are everywhere… Elstone’s blog was actually a transparent look into our finances, and was applauded by fans of other clubs, but because of the culture of over sensitivity and drama at Everton – one aside was latched on to.
Bill Kenwright was asked today when the AGM’s would be reinstated. He replied “Not whilst The Blue Union control the shareholders”
— The Blue Union (@TheBlueUnion) January 7, 2012
On the other side, I’ve heard about Bill Kenwright’s capricious nature and his growing paranoia. The statement above sounds very bizarre.
Closing off AGM’s to the public is a PR disaster, tantamount to admitting that you sleep with a gun under your pillow. Kenwright’s School of Silence approach ensures that rumour and hearsay have grown out of all proportion. Calling yourself the People’s Club but removing lines of communication to the common fan? A horrible hypocrisy.
Open Letters – Closed Minds
While I’m mid rant, permit me to go a little off piste. Open letters are swiftly becoming a devalued currency. I wrote one once, and cringe at the thought of it now. They are utterly diluted by the sheer number of “open letters” out there. I’d love to throw them in my Room 101 along with the word “apologist”.
Watching the semi against United on ESPN Classic. Seems a millions years away. The board allowed that team to be smashed to pieces #tragic
— Joe Jennings (@JoeJennings9) January 23, 2012
A quick look at that team tells me that it hasn’t been slashed to pieces. That result should actually give us hope!
Everton: Howard, Hibbert, Jagielka, Lescott, Baines, Osman, Neville, Fellaini (Vaughan 102), Pienaar, Cahill, Saha (Rodwell 70).
Only 3 of those players, including those that came on as subs, no longer play for us.
Whatever the fee, I think we can all agree Moyes won’t see a penny, and the already smallest squad in the league is another player light. — The Blue Union (@TheBlueUnion) January 23, 2012
Moyes did spend money this January.
Below is a Tweet from our first interviewee for 60 Evertonians. Is this what you think too?
— Joe Jennings (@JoeJennings9) January 11, 2012
Removing the apostrophe.
A friend told me that an apostrophe is the difference between a club that knows it’s sh*t, and a club that knows its sh*t. Moyes’ successes of late, our FA Cup run, and Kenwright’s efforts to bring Pienaar back, have eased the tension and removed that apostrophe once more.
The Blue Union and the Club will try to claim that I’m biased. I’m not. I’m slap bang in the middle. The money wasn’t ring fenced, the stadium won’t lose its safety certificates, Kenwright isn’t trying to drive the club into relegation and we did have money to spend this winter.
A plague on both your houses.