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Will Tidey - Can Bernard Mullin bring back the 1980s at Everton?

Published: 31 Mar 2011 - 07:13:40

In in the mid-1980s, Merseyside was so dominant in English football that you got a sense what it must be like to be Scottish. For Celtic and Rangers, read Liverpool and Everton.

From 1984 to 1987, Everton and Liverpool shared four titles - and each won an FA Cup. Everton appeared in four Wembley finals in four years, and Liverpool picked up a Double. They both won major European trophies.

In a time of limited television coverage, the biggest games were all you saw. And when nearly all of them involved the red or blue half of Merseyside, it was hardly surprising that their replica kits dominated playgrounds up and down the country.

Graeme Sharp, Trevor Steven, Peter Reid and Neville Southall of Everton; Ian Rush, Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen and Bruce Grobellaar of Liverpool. These were the players I grew up on.

Twenty-five years later and both clubs have fallen into financial crisis, and fallen behind. Liverpool's financial mismanagement, and desperation to keep pace with the likes of Manchester United, left them managing debts of around £350 million. At one point there was even talk of them going into administration.

Everton's problems are not quite on the same scale, but then again neither have their achievements been in the years since their mid-80s halcyon days. They've won just an FA Cup and a Charity Shield in the two decades and more since they conquered England's top flight in the 1986-87 season.

Everton are currently in around £50 million of debt, but their spending power is so limited that manager David Moyes is virtually working on a sell-to-buy basis, and accepting the reality that his team's primary objective is to avoid relegation. It's a depressing reality, but it's the only reality on offer at Goodison Park.

Things got so desperate at Liverpool that the club were forced to sell to George Gillett and Tom Hicks in 2007 - two Americans it seemed had little knowledge of the club's grand tradition. To the fans' great relief they were sold again in 2010 - this time the owners of the Boston Red Sox.

And according to report in today's Daily Telegraph, Everton could be about to join the American revolution. Bernard Mullin, a US-based businessman, is said to be contacting potential investors around the world to put together a bid to buy the club outright.

It should be said that Mullin is both Liverpool-born, and calls himself a lifelong Everton fan, but his business operation has been in the US for some time, and it appears any move to buy Everton will be backed by global financial support.

The former president of the Atlanta Hawks basketball team has already met Everton owner Bill Kenwright, and believes he can buy out the club's three biggest shareholders for between £75 million and £100 million. He's also looking for a £250 million investment to finance a new 50,000-capacity stadium.

Could Mullin be the saviour who finally puts Everton back where they belong? Things have got so desperate at Goodison, you get the feeling the fans and their manager will be more than willing to listen to his overtures.

If they don't, the Everton we once knew could ultimately be resigned to continuing their gradual decline and eventually falling down the leagues.

DSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:Will Tidey
Will Tidey writes on sport for CNN, Eurosport-Yahoo! and Bleacher Report, amongst others. His first book, 'Life with Sir Alex', an account of Sir Alex Ferguson's 25-year reign at Manchester United, is set for release in October this year. Pre-order it now at http://tinyurl.com/6xzl62b. And follow Will on Twitter here - www.twitter.com/willtidey

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