Toffees move to ease fans' fears

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Everton insist they are working hard to address to the fears of fans about under-investment.

Frustrated supporters are planning to protest outside Goodison Park ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League game against Aston Villa. Fans believe the club has stagnated under the chairmanship of Bill Kenwright and fear decline if the theatre impresario does not sell his majority stake.

Kenwright has often said he will sell if an acceptable offer is made and the club insist they are working hard to find such a suitable buyer. A statement from chief executive Robert Elstone read: "Everton Football Club is for sale, despite accusations to the contrary."

The statement continued: "This has been the case for three years and it will remain the case until such time as someone is found with the finances capable of ensuring we can compete at the very highest level of the game both at home and in Europe.

"Whilst the club is for sale, we have also overseen substantial and tangible progress in the last five years both on and off the pitch. We have signed record sponsorship deals, and hugely increased our income alongside achieving an average league position of sixth.

"In terms of the number of games played, it has also been the most prolific period of European football in the club's history and we have invested in building our best squad of players since the mid-1980s."

Elstone's statement appears to be an attempt to quell tomorrow's demonstration, which has been organised by fans group The Blue Union. The group have called for the Toffees to "appoint a fully autonomous group of professional individuals" to facilitate a sale.

Elstone said: "The suggestion of a completely new group of individuals coming in and essentially doing what the current board is doing is risible and completely unnecessary."

The parlous state of Everton's finances was recently revealed by Kenwright in a meeting with The Blue Union in comments he thought were private. The club have not paid a significant transfer fee for two years while their only additions this summer were loan signings Denis Stracqualursi and Royston Drenthe.

Elstone added: "We are not where we want to be - we will always want more - but it is now time to pull together in the same direction and not fracture. Everton is at its strongest when we stand together."

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