No more Mr Moshiri: Could Everton’s monarch be bowing out?
Plus: Allegations of ‘institutional abuse’ at Merseyside’s asylum seeker hotels
Dear readers — the sun has reared its big, beautiful yellow head, the city is refusing to come down from Eurovision fever and Everton appear to be safe from relegation (our sincerest apologies if all goes belly up on the final day of the season). La Vita is very much Dolce at the moment, and as if things couldn’t get any better, it’s Post briefing day. Read on for this and more:
Today’s big story, which explores the possible sale of Everton FC, as the club seeks to rebuild itself with another chaotic season drawing to a close
Your mini briefing, with a shocking Observer investigation into the asylum seeker hotels across Merseyside where staff allege “institutional abuse”
The pinkest house in Wavertree, featuring a pink bathroom, pink stairwell, pink living room and a pink — well, orangey-pink — courtyard
Over the weekend we continued to milk the Eurovision fanaticism by exploring the festival’s potential legacy, and what comes next for culture in Liverpool. Could a certain opera company be on their way here, for example? We very much hope so…
Last week paying members received two amazing editions. On Tuesday, David Lloyd explored the burgeoning magic of Wirral’s Left Bank, from its jaunty lego-brick townhouses to marina restoration projects. Read all about it here. Then on Thursday Post loanee Daniel Timms delved into Merseyrail’s finances, asking what the company needs to do to bounce back from its pandemic battering.
Have a listen: After our first foray into the world of podcasts, chatting to Chris Bessell a couple of weeks back, we’ve developed a taste for it! Jack’s been on Timothy Short’s North and South Podcasts this week, talking all things The Post. Have a listen below, and check out some of the older episodes while you're at it.
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Editor’s note: This will be our last ever week as a publication with one full-time staff member. So far our tiny operation, supported of course by brilliant editors and freelancers, has grown to almost 1,100 paying members, and we couldn’t be more thankful. Next week, Abi Whistance will be joining us from the Yorkshire Evening Post, which means the scale of our ambitions will only increase — more investigations, more big projects, more fun. Why not join the party now if you haven’t already; it costs only £1.25 a month and doing so helps to support the revitalisation of quality journalism in the city region.
If you want to tell us about a potential story or give us information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak to people off the record in the first instance, and we will treat your information with confidence and sensitivity:
We’re writing about Sine Missione this week, Liverpool’s infamous street artist turned conspiracy theorist-in-chief. Any thoughts, anecdotes or intel on the “Scouse Banksy” (perhaps you’ve tried out his new clothing range, or maybe you’ve even met the man behind the mask), please get in touch with email@example.com.
To Post readers living near the Knowsley/Lancashire border; we’d like your thoughts about a number of environmental issues, including illegal tipping, the legacy of the Sonae factory and the planned Simonswood Incinerator. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, we’re looking into the homes across the city region that could be affected by flooding due to climate change in the future. Live close to the coast and have thoughts? Email email@example.com.
This week’s weather
Monday ☀️ Sunny with a moderate breeze and highs of 17°C
Tuesday ☀️ Sunny with a moderate breeze and highs of 17°C
Wednesday ⛅ Sunny intervals with a moderate breeze and highs of 17°C
Thursday ☀️ Sunny with a moderate breeze and highs of 19°C
Friday ⛅ Sunny with a gentle breeze and highs of 20°C
Weekend ☀️ Sunny with a gentle breeze and highs of 21°C
This week’s weather forecast for Liverpool is sourced from BBC Weather..
The big story: No more Mr Moshiri: Could Everton’s monarch be bowing out?
Top line: Everton have been in a constant state of chaos this season, but might there be light at the end of the tunnel? Several recent reports have suggested that a takeover could be close, although uncertainly remians as to whether embattled owner Farhad Moshiri is either looking for a minority stakeholder or an outright sale.
Context: It now seems probable that Everton will stay up this season. Not definite, but probable, they sit two points above the relegation zone with one game to play. Despite that, the season has been calamitous, featuring an ongoing civil war between the fans and board (the climax of which came in January when club sources claimed that chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale was put in a headlock by a fan as she left the directors' box), poor results and question marks over who really owns the club.
Bad numbers: Plainly, the numbers don’t look good for Moshiri. Everton have recently posted losses for a fifth consecutive year, adding up to a total of £430 million over that period. £750 million of the owner’s own money has been injected, and the club is carrying roughly £225 million in external debt. Much has been wasted on transfers, with over £600 million spent under the owner and little to show for it. Everton superfan and philanthropist Dr David France told The Post last year Everton had behaved like “inebriated lottery winners” under Moshiri, “buying ageing cast-offs with no sell-on or residual value.”
That said, some of the more lurid reports that relegation would send the club into administration are probably not correct. Dr Dan Plumley, a lecturer in sport finance at Sheffield Hallam, told the BBC:
"The financial performance and position of the club is not great and relegation would be a significant blow, but I don't see an administration problem rearing its head in the immediate term. They would need to look at investment to strengthen their position but despite some of the numbers in the accounts, there is optimism on that front."
Things went from bad to worse last year when Alisher Usmanov, the Uzbek–Russian businessman once described by the EU as a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” and former business partner of Moshiri, was sanctioned by the British government and had to step down from the board of directors at USM Holdings, which sponsored Everton's training ground. A revealing piece in The Guardian this year reported that Usmanov had sat in on interviews for the club managerial position, with one candidate saying he “left him with the impression that the club belonged to the tycoon”. Everton strongly denied the claims.
Reports last week claimed that Everton was close to being sold in a deal worth £600 million to American investment fund 777 Partners, bringing Moshiri’s faltering reign to an end. Separately, another investment fund, MSP Sports Capital (fronted by the man who was part of the inspiration for film Jerry Maguire) have expressed confidence that they can secure the deal. The BBC have since claimed that a deal is not so advanced, while Moshiri has previously told the fan’s advisory board at Everton that he is not pursuing a full sale, but rather seeking a minority investor.
Bottom line: Most — if not all — Everton fans will be wishing for Moshiri’s departure. Whether or not they get their wish is another question. But after two seasons scrapping for survival, it’s clear something has to give. Everton need to rebuild and Moshiri’s attempts to do so have thus far fallen very flat. Of course, pessimism is all the rage at Goodison and some worry that the next owner could be even worse.
Your Post briefing
Asylum seekers housed in Home Office hotels across Merseyside have been “harassed, humiliated and subjected to verbal and emotional abuse from senior hotel staff,” according to a shocking investigation in the Observer. The investigation focuses on government subcontractor Serco. Staff have alleged a culture of “institutional abuse” at five local hotels, including the Suites in Knowsley, which saw anti-asylum seeker riots in February. One source said that a diagnosed schizophrenic resident had been chased into his room by a senior staff member who then shouted abuse, kicked at the door and laughed at the resident’s distress. Others allege staff used racist langauge, denied residents food and water and shouted “Fuck off and call Migrant Help” at anybody requesting support. One source compared Serco to “a lads’ club, where if you help someone, you’re ridiculed in front of everyone.” The Home Office said it has investigated the claims, but cannot find evidence to substantiate them. Serco said they had also “rigorously investigated” the Observer’s claims and found “that they are without foundation” and “contain a number of significant inaccuracies”.
Wirral is experiencing wide-scale organised crime crackdowns, rolled out in the wake of Elle Edwards’ shooting on Christmas Eve last year. Raids on five homes on the Beechwood, Woodchurch and Noctorum estates in Birkenhead last week saw three arrests and thousands of pounds seized. The growth of OCGs (Organised Crime Groups) on these estates in recent years has led to a spike in violence, with additional police resources allocated to the area since Edwards’ death. If you have information about the growth of OCGs on Wirral estates, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. All information is fully protected by confidentiality.
Liverpool’s £2 million Levelling Up grant to produce a feasibility study for a waterfront music attraction has finally been drawn down. The Echo reports that the money — pledged in 2021 — “has now been delivered” and work will get underway. The grant was criticised at the time, as the attraction was said to be “Beatles-inspired”, leaving many people wondering whether another Beatles-themed site was what Liverpool’s culture economy really needed, though Culture Liverpool’s Claire McColgan insisted that the group were just the hook for a more far-reaching project. The delays, however, have been extensive: Manchester’s comparable Levelling Up bid from the same funding round has already begun construction.
And another cultural update to round things off. Tate Liverpool has released plans for its £29.7 million revamp, with a new public “art hall” and double height galleries. The Tate landed in Liverpool 35 years ago, with many a snobbish appraisal claiming that it couldn’t command a large audience in such a city (ahem). It has since thrived, perhaps a lesson to those writing off the prospects of a successful English National Opera move to these parts. Now, though, director Helen Legg says it’s time to try to reach new audiences and reduce the gallery’s environmental impact, which the renewal is aiming to achieve. The refit is planned to complete in 2025.
Home of the week
Wavertree’s (and England’s) pinkest house hits the market for £270,000. It’s a Georgian property brimming with character, with three bedrooms, a Mediterranean-style south-facing courtyard with Indian stone paving, and a free-standing, original cast-iron bath. It is also — we must stress again — very, very pink.
Our favourite reads
“In another time or another place, Lucy Easthope says, she would have been a fortune-teller—a woman of opaque origin and beliefs, who travelled from campfire to town square, speaking of calamities that had come to pass and those which hung in the stars.” That’s the opening sentence — and one of many brilliant ones — in this New Yorker profile of Liverpool-born Lucy Easthope, one of the country’s leading experts on disaster planning and response, who has worked on 9/11, chemical attacks, bombings and air crashes. Ever ahead of the New Yorker, we also caught up with Easthope last year.
Anywhere can be a hub for arts and culture, or at least that’s the message of Birkenhead’s The Town is a Gallery project, the culmination of a creative growth spurt on steroids for the former industrial town. Kenn Taylor explores the rise in this brilliant Quietus read, speaking to the brains behind it: Future Yard, Bloom, Convenience Gallery and so on. “Cultural development in post-industrial places has to be driven by local needs and opportunities. By specificity and originality. Not only will this serve local citizens better, uniqueness is also what attracts wider attention,” he writes. Birkehead is providing a model many ought to follow.
Sviatoslav Bazakutsa is about as single-minded as 14-year-olds can be. He practises chess six hours a day, starting at 6am, and his efforts have reaped rewards: Bazakutsa is a European champion. Born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, he fled the war last year and moved to Britain, where he now studies at North Liverpool Academy in Everton. Despite the school being in one of the most deprived areas of the country, Bazakutsa led it to second place in the British Championship last month (losing out to a seven-time winning Surrey grammar) and its chess club now has a 90-strong membership. A fantastically uplifting read from The Times.
📸 Three Ukrainian photographers interpret the concept of “resistance” at Open Eye Gallery, from depictions of the atrocities of war to recording the widespread practice of people painting over the road signs to disorient the occupation army. More details here.
🎭 It’s…world class theatre at the Empire. Vardy V Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial (aka The Scousetrap) — crafted from seven days of High Court transcripts — is the theatrical take on the ultimate WAG sleuthing showdown. It’s at the Empire on Sunday, buy tickets here.
🗣️ Acclaimed author Malik Al Nasir — whose memoir Letters to Gil recounts his childhood experiences of the brutality of the care system and his friendship with the American musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron — is giving a talk about Liverpool and the decolonisation of place, drawing from his research of the transatlantic slave trade. It’s free to reserve a spot.
🥁 Clear your calendars for next month’s Africa Oyé, not only Sefton Park’s largest annual celebration of Africa music, but the biggest in the country. Oyé continues to be free to enter, but if you value it and can afford to, you can donate.
Letters from readers
Something needs to happen to reverse the diminishing trend in this so called city of music - we've lost the Kazimier, Arts Club, Parr Street Studios and many, many others. Eurovision is a great success but I've got to travel to Manchester over the coming weeks to see US bands I originally discovered in Liverpool venues 20 years ago, ‘Eurovision? Tick. Is opera next? Liverpool tries to build on a triumph’, thewilk
Manchester's buses (and Trams, and Rail service) are VERY generously funded by Westminster, whereas Liverpool gets ............ that's right, sweet ****. While this continues we will NEVER be able to match them, ‘Merseyrail is strapped for cash — but to survive, it needs to get bigger’, Paul McDermott