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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Chris Beesley

Farhad Moshiri and Everton board given damning reminder as outsider draws terrifying parallel

Sometimes it takes on outsider to truly get a handle on a situation like Everton’s current plight and as this correspondent took his spot opposite the Royal Oak ahead of the fan protest against their club’s owner and directors, a Sunderland supporter who had found himself in this particular corner of Walton on matchday was chatting to locals.

He admitted the Blues’ situation reminded him of his own club’s final days in the Premier League, which is quite the terrifying parallel considering that they would ultimately suffer back-to-back relegations, tumbling into League One. The far-from-home Black Cats fan then summarised that nothing would change at Everton until a new set of people were at the helm of the club.

What proved to be Frank Lampard’s final home game in charge of the Blues began with a fan welcome for the team coach, but while the club’s loyal but long suffering supporters prepared to cheer their side on in new manager Sean Dyche’s first fixture at the helm, the pre-match activity outside Goodison Park centred around the protest. This game pitted the two clubs with the longest continuous spells in the top flight of English football against each other but the contrast in their current condition is stark.

READ MORE: What happened on street march as Everton fans send clear message to club's board

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Arsenal have been part of the elite ever since 1919; Everton have been dining at the top table since 1954. Although the Blues also hold the record for the most to- flight seasons in total (120, some 11 more than nearest rivals Aston Villa), this fixture at Goodison – the first purpose-built football ground in England – could be table-topping Arsenal’s last visit to the ‘Grand Old Lady’ if their hosts are to suffer a first relegation for 72 years this May.

After becoming Everton’s majority shareholder in 2016 as the long-awaited billionaire that chairman Bill Kenwright had been searching for, it was hoped that Farhad Moshiri’s financial muscle would help the club bridge the gap between themselves that had often formed a glass ceiling during David Moyes’ long managerial spell. However, less than seven years on, the Monaco-based businessman, who hasn’t attended a game at Goodison since the 5-2 capitulation to Watford on October 23, 2021, is now on his eighth manager.

Although the one saving grace of his tenure has been turning the Blues’ new stadium dream into a reality, with progress remaining on schedule on their 52,888 capacity future home for a move in the 2024/25 season, it remains a travesty that Evertonians cannot even look forward to the prospect of this or savour their final days at Goodison with any kind of certainty after the mistakes Moshiri has admitted have been made when “we have not always spent significant amounts of money wisely”.

Perhaps never in football history has a team spent so much to become as bad as Everton but after several seasons of largely squandering funds, the chickens have now come home to roost, with the spending slashed in recent times.

Ironically, if there was ever a time that the Blues looked like they needed to splash the cash it was in the recent January transfer window, having fallen into the drop zone and picked up their lowest-ever points haul at the halfway stage of a Premier League season. But while all their rivals around them strengthened last month, not a single new recruit was added to the Blues’ goal-shy squad despite their joint-top scorer in the competition, Anthony Gordon being sold to Newcastle United for £45m.

Given such a dramatic and unnecessary decline, which has left one of the game’s most-devoted sets of supporters enduring a painful living purgatory, considerable sections of them are now demanding change.

The protest today started with the unfurling of a banner in the middle of County Road – forcing traffic along the busy crossroads to grind to a halt – and then the fans made their way up Spellow Lane and then along Goodison Road in the shadow of the Main Stand.

While the disgruntled crowd’s chants directed toward Everton’s hierarchy were damning and unequivocal, and the force of their conviction partisan, under the watchful eye of a considerable police presence that included officers from beyond Merseyside, it was non-violent in its nature.

In the end, the deserved 1-0 victory over Arsenal ensured it proved to be a long overdue day of celebration on the pitch for Blues, even if the club’s stay-away chiefs weren’t present again to see it.


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