Everton must sell Jagielka, bank tells club
Kenwright admits Goodison outfit are under pressure to also sell Baines, Fellaini and Howard to reduce debts
The Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has revealed that the club is in the depths of a deep financial crisis and has been ordered to hand over the proceeds of player sales to their bankers who are now "desperate" to see the Goodison outfit sold.
Kenwright, who met with The Blue Union supporters coalition at his London offices last week, is embarrassed to have discovered their publication of a detailed transcript of the exchanges in which he suggests that he incurred censure from his bankers last year for not agreeing to the sale of Mikel Arteta. Kenwright implies that the bank, which he said has taken the £3m from the sale of Steven Pienaar to Tottenham to reduce the club's £25m debt, now wants to see the sale of Phil Jagielka. Kenwright also said he has produced a document for the bank, in which he insists that four players – Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Tim Howard – must not be sold.
The most excruciating revelation for Kenwright, who doesn't dispute the transcript but is considering legal action for breach of confidentiality, relates to two potential investors in Everton – one who claimed to be the head of ICI in the Far East and the other an inventor. Amid the chairman's desperate attempt to sell the club, these were introduced to him by Keith Harris, the head of Seymour Pierce, who believed the pair to be in control of a hedge fund.
The two individuals undertook due diligence on the club and Everton were ready to "sign an agreement", as The Blue Union describes it, before Kenwright, in their words, "smelt a rat". The buy-out was then revealed to be a hoax. ICI had never heard of the individual who professed to work for them but who lived in a one-bed flat. The inventor was based in Manchester.
Intriguingly, Kenwright said the notion of a ground share with Liverpool – something his chief executive Robert Elstone raised the prospect of in November 2009 – was something Liverpool's principal owner, John W Henry, might be willing to consider. "I'm led to believe John Henry is willing to discuss it, I don't know; the last lot [of Liverpool owners weren't interested. To be fair neither where [sic] we]." Henry's Fenway Sports Group are understood to be very conscious of their fans' likely opposition to such a plan.
But the most disturbing part of the transcript is its revelation that banks are now calling in the debts of the club, who have a £25m overdraft. "We have just done a document to the bank which says you can't stop the football club from trading," the transcript quotes Kenwright as saying. "Do you not think the bank doesn't ask me every week how we're doing with the sale? They're fucking desperate. So what I've told them is, 'Don't kill us this season'... no, I will not sell Jagielka – just as last year I was hung, drawn and quartered for not selling Arteta. You know the four players we don't dare sell. Baines, Jagielka, Fellaini and Tim Howard. In simple arithmetic, if you want me to show you [my financial contribution to the club], £5m a year for nine years is £45m... The Pienaar money has gone to the bank."
Kenwright asserts that Harris, the investment manager Amanda Staveley, who attempted to bring in Dubai International Capital as Liverpool's owners, retail entrepreneur Sir Philip Green and football agents, including Leon Angel, have all been seeking to find a buyer for Everton – without success. Kenwright told The Blue Union he sent a "two-page article" to manager David Moyes, which outlined the club's financial position to fans. Moyes told him he didn't need to release it.
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