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"BREAKING news from Goodison Park. Joyce the cleaner has signed a new, one month Everton FC rolling contract to ward off interest from the Mecca Bingo, Dovecot. There will be a press conference 3pm tomorrow.”


Not even remotely funny, but football humour in this city can be biting and cruel.


It’s a text message currently doing the rounds, and it indicates how Everton are perceived by the red half of the city – and underlines the frustration which seems to be building among Everton’s fan base.


Frustration of which I’m suddenly, all too keenly aware. That wasn’t the only text I received this week.


I also received a couple from very respected journalists


“Why are all kinds of Evertonians going nuts all of a sudden?” read one, while another asked: “What’s happening pal? Suddenly you’re the Salman Rushdie of Liverpool.”


To those who missed last week’s column, and believe me it really isn’t worth revisiting, it was a sincere and honest attempt to look optimistically at Everton’s coming campaign.


Last summer Everton went into the season with a squad popularly believed to be the strongest assembled at the club in 15 years, on the back of a storming finish to the previous campaign – and with players and coaches quietly confident of making a push for a Champions League place.


Twelve months on the only thing which has changed is Steven Pienaar.


And I tried to reflect that. But it seems that many Blues aren’t in the mood for optimism.


Clearly Liverpool’s spending spree across the park has contributed (although spending £20m on Stewart Downing should surely have brought just a small smile to Evertonian faces.)


But something seems to have shifted quite significantly in the mind set of a growing number of Everton fans.


And top of the agenda appears to be the inability of Bill Kenwright to sell the club.


Despite a search “24/7” since well before the worldwide recession began to bite, the Blues chairman has come up empty handed.


That’s not due to a lack of publicity. It’s common knowledge that Everton is for sale. It has been suggested that Kenwright must be asking too much for the club.


But the Blues’ admirable young chief executive Robert Elstone has clearly refuted that claim too.


“It’s not because we’ve been imposing unreasonable conditions,” he stated in February. “No-one has come up with any money. The club is for sale and that sale does not depend on the Chairman remaining in charge.”


That appears to be clear enough.


But some fans will still refuse to accept it, but until one investor goes public and makes it clear that Kenwright is either asking for too much or deliberately blocking a sale it’s difficult to argue with.


And none ever has.


The remaining conclusion to be drawn is if Bill Kenwright really wants to sell his football club – and one former Everton manager told me on Wednesday “Bill is desperately disillusioned and wants out” – he has to market that sale more aggressively.


I’ve asked before, but there’s no harm in asking again, why can’t the club consider hiring an independent broker to find a suitable buyer like Liverpool did with Hawkpoint in March 2004?


It wasn’t a search without its embarrassing interludes – like Rick Parry believing he was being ushered into a room to talk to Thaksin Shinawatra, only to find himself in front of a press conference announcing the proud purchase of the club – but it was successful.


Actually, paraphrase that. It found a buyer. Two, in fact. And while Liverpool were unlucky to find buyers of the brass neck of Tom Hicks and George Gillett, Hawkpoint could hardly be blamed for that.


Across the park Keith Harris appears to have been enlisted in some sort of commission if successful capacity, but clearly if he's been trying hard, he hasn't been successful.


No-one, it seems, has ever been hired and paid solely to market Everton aggressively as both a priority and an opportunity; to pro-actively get out there and find an investor.


And that surely has to be worth considering? That’s not the only grievance, of course.


And for me, the silence from the club this summer, understandable though that may be when there is so little good news to impart, has contributed to the frustration.


There hasn’t been a single sentence uttered publicly by any senior official at the club all summer until Ian Ross put himself forward on Talksport this week to answer the concerns of the newly created People’s Group.


Those club officials might reply “but there’s nothing to say.”


But in the lack of even a reassuring soundbite that Everton are at least trying to buy players, fans are left to form their own conclusions – and plenty of those conclusions have been bleak.


That was underlined by the staggering response to last week’s column. There are some articles you know will spark a response.


When I used the words “blundering, inept and crass” to sum up an Everton chairman’s reign, and a sub-editor elevated those words into a headline, I knew there would be a reaction.


The resignation of said chairman four days later was a satisfying conclusion.


When I accused Everton’s players of “taking the p***” out of their supporters for their feeble collapse to the 2003/04 season I knew there would be a response too.


One player privately agreed with me, another shrugged, while a third circulated photocopies of the article and organised a boycott of this newspaper for several months.


But the reaction to last Friday’s article genuinely took me by surprise. I was trying to offer some optimism and reassurance.


Clearly I misjudged the mood of many. There are a growing number of fans out there who don’t want optimism, they want answers to an increasing number of questions.


The easiest one to answer is that familiar refrain ‘where’s all the money gone?’asked in several quarters last week.


That question has been asked – and answered before - but I'll repeat.


Everton earned £49.6m in Premier League prize money last season, took £19.2m from gate receipts and saw commercial, sponsorship and merchandising revenue increase to £7.1m.


That’s, roughly, 80million quid’s worth of incomings, against which Everton had operating costs of £79.6m in their last set of accounts.


By far the biggest single item on those costs is a wage bill of £54.3m, added to by the need to service a debt of £44.6m which adds up to £4.5m on interest payments per year.


That all leaves around £20m to pay for the Finch Farm lease, the upkeep of Goodison, scouting, medical support, coaches and everything else which goes into the running of a modern football club.


Everton claim that 85p in every pound goes in one way or another to Finch Farm.


And if you think that’s excessive, Manchester City hand over 110 per cent of their income in wages alone.


But while that’s easy enough to answer, the biggest question, which I can’t offer a reply to, is why Everton can’t sell Everton.


Is it the lack of a new ground? Is it the proximity of one of the most celebrated brands in world football? Or is it a reluctance by the current owner to let go?


Only those would-be investors who have apparently spoken to the Blues board, and walked away, can answer that. And they’re not saying.


But someone, somewhere has to say something soon, because there’s a growing mood of unrest amongst Everton’s fan base.

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