Everton fans fear bleak future as Premier League status hangs by a thread
published : 3 Feb 2023 at 08:45
LIVERPOOL - Mired in the Premier League relegation zone and at war with the club's board, Everton fans fear a 69-year stay in English football's top flight is heading towards an inevitable end.
Sean Dyche will take charge of the Toffees for the first time against league leaders Arsenal on Saturday.
The former Burnley boss was given an early indication of the job that lies ahead of him, though, as a number of potential deals collapsed on deadline day, leaving Everton as the only Premier League club not sign a player in the January transfer window.
Years of mismanagement from the top of the club down are now coming home to roost.
Only Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal have won more English top-flight titles than Everton's nine.
But the last of those came in the 1986/1987 season and the club have not won any trophy since 1995.
Owner Farhad Moshiri only took control in 2016, but he is the man most fans hold responsible for a precipitous plunge from fighting for Europe to battling for survival.
The British-Iranian businessman cannot be accused of not putting his hand in his pocket.
Over the past seven years, Everton have spent over pound sterling600 million ($740 million) on players in the transfer market with precious little to show for it.
"The fact many fans could struggle to count on one hand who has been a genuine success on the pitch is staggering," said David Downie of the Blue Room podcast.
"Moshiri's personal involvement with signings, director of football appointments and the bizarre involvement of (agent) Kia Joorabchian and seemingly other agents has become a major flaw for a long time."
Between 2018 and 2021 alone, Everton posted pound sterling373 million of losses.
As a result, financial fair play controls have tightened the noose on what they can spend to dig themselves out of trouble.
- 'Not fit for purpose' -
Last season they escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2 against Crystal Palace in the penultimate game of the season.
The Goodison Park crowd played a huge part that night, as they did in vital 1-0 wins over Chelsea and Manchester United late in the season to secure a great escape.
Richarlison and Anthony Gordon, who scored the winning goal in those games, have since been sold to balance the books.
And the final straw of fortress Goodison is beginning to crumble too.
A 2-1 defeat to Southampton last month means Everton have lost four in a row at home for the first time since 1958.
The club's board did not attend that match, claiming to have been told to stay away due to a "real and credible threat to their safety and security."
Following the game supporters staged a sit-in protest to voice their anger at the direction of the club on and off the field.
"We've boxed ourselves into a corner now with this gross mismanagement," Lee McDonnell of Everton fans' campaign group NSNOW told AFP.
"There is a lack of any real sort of plan, leadership or communication. The people at the top are not fit for purpose. It's embarrassing."
The fear for many is not just the prospect of relegation, but what could come next.
Construction on a new 52,000 capacity stadium is well under way, but Moshiri told the Everton Fan Advisory Board recently he was seeking extra investment to complete the project.
"The worry among our group now is the club goes bankrupt," added McDonnell. "It scares the living daylights out of people."
Leeds, Sunderland and Sheffield Wednesday serve as examples of other historic English clubs that failed to bounce back quickly after falling through the trap door of the Premier League.
"I think if Everton were relegated, it'd be a very long time, if at all, that we would see the club return to the Premier League," added Downie.
"I fear there'd likely be more chance of Everton moving to League One than the Premier League."