Everton Club Focus – Elstone financial blog highlights rift between board and supporters

Everton’s decent 1-1 draw with Aston Villa on Saturday and the debut of former Manchester United midfield Darron Gibson in the same match was overshadowed somewhat by the publication on Friday evening of a blog from the club’s chief executive, Robert Elstone.

The detailed post, an analysis of Everton’s accounts over the last five financial years, was an attempt to answer the question most asked of the Toffees’ hierarchy: Where has the money gone? In it, Elstone waded through the mass of figures to illustrate how tightly Everton’s finances are squeezed and just how hard it is for the board to provide David Moyes with the funds to significantly improve his squad. The bare numbers are there for all to see and until Everton can find a way to increase the money coming into the club – or, more painfully, cut costs dramatically – there is little light at the end of the dark financial tunnel.

Some supporters have criticised the blog for its tone, feeling Elstone was at best condescending and at worst downright offensive – most complaints arise from the use of the word ‘sabotage’ when Elstone described moves from disgruntled supports to further register their discontent, the implication being that any form of protest that effects the club financially is a deliberate attempt to damage the club, rather than a legitimate way of raising concerns. The term was, whichever side of the increasing divide between board and supporters on which you sit, misguided and needlessly provocative.

Nevertheless, within five minutes of the 1,700-word piece being posted on the club’s Facebook page, the article was dismissed by one commentator as ‘lies’. Digesting such an opus would take even the sharpest financial mind some time, but one fan offhandedly rejected the attempt at transparency in only slightly more time than it takes to boil an egg. Neither party benefits from such knee-jerk reactions which only lengthen the chasm erupting between Evertonians and the custodians of the club. Calling a truce, starting from scratch and engaging in a clear and open dialogue would be in the interests of all concerned.

On the pitch it was a little rosier as Victor Anichebe scored his second goal of the season to deliver a point from Villa Park. The Nigerian, who returned from a lengthy injury in the New Year, came off the bench to convert a through ball from consensus man of the match Landon Donovan, the second such cameo Anichebe has made – the first brought three points from West Bromwich Albion on New Year’s Day. With Gibson partnering Marouane Fellaini in midfield Everton’s XI had a more balanced look than in recent outings, and with 20-year-old centre-back Shane Duffy impressing on his full debut even the previously-superb Sylvain Distin was not particularly missed.

With around a fortnight remaining in the transfer window Moyes is still in the market for a handful of players, particularly a striker, but, as Elstone laid bare on Friday evening, money may override the manager’s wishes. If Anichebe can continue his scoring form, however, he may be able to fill the void.

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