It’s Goodison Park’s most famous terrace anthem and one the fans have sung for many years now: “There’s going be a show when the Everton boys are there.”

The Blues have been proudly part of football’s elite since the very beginning.

The 2002-03 season was memorable for Evertonians not just for teenger’s Wayne Rooney’s spectacular introduction as an English football future great but for their club becoming the first to have played 100 seasons in the top division of the English game.

Their current total of 116 still has them way ahead of the rest but what if participation in the Premier League was no longer the pinnacle of the club game?

Many in football have been alarmed by reports from German publication Der Spiegel that some top European sides have held talks aimed at creating a breakaway super league.

The article claims that Manchester United and Arsenal, along with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Milan went behind UEFA’s back to discuss the matter and their plans also include Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain as the 11 ‘founders’ who would supposedly be except from relegation for some 20 years (a period longer than most professionals’ playing career).

They would then be joined by a second group of teams known as “initial guests” – Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter, Marseille and Roma.

Everton’s name was predictably not on the list report the Liverpool Echo.

Illustrious past counts for little right now

Pat Van Den Hauwe scores Everton's winner against Norwich in 1987 (200)
Pat Van Den Hauwe scores Everton’s winner against Norwich in 1987 (200)

You could trot out the “most seasons in the top flight” or “nine league titles, that’s more than either Manchester City or Chelsea” until you’re blue in the face but it would cut no ice with these ruthless money men who are only concerned with the here and now.

Such achievements are viewed as ancient history in relative terms and are likely to hold little more sway than Huddersfield Town proclaiming their hat-trick of League Championships in the 1920s or Sunderland pointing to their six titles which were all picked up before King Edward VIII abdicated.

Let’s not be naïve about such things. Club football has been a business ever since the Old Etonians and company got their noses pushed out by paid professional outfits – from teams here in the North West of England – over 130 years ago.

Everton were controversially awarded their own place as one of the Football League’s founder members in 1888 over local rivals Bootle FC – who at the time enjoyed a more impressive on-the-field record – because of their greater potential for generating funds.

The choice was seen as being vindicated as in an era when gate money was the primary source of income Everton would enjoy the largest average attendances in the top flight for the first decade.

However, whereas Everton had been formed because a group of young men in Liverpool wanted to play football, the infamous split of 1892 left John Houlding to fashion a ready-made team created for profit at Anfield.

This consisted of a local goalkeeper and 10 Scottish imports which is clearly food for thought for future generations on the Kop who would come to espouse the socialist values of their iconic manager Bill Shankly.

A driving force in the creation of the Premier League

Everton’s Cenk Tosun misses a chance to score against Liverpool
(Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

A century later both rival clubs from either side of Stanley Park were at the forefront of revolutionising English football’s old First Division and the creation of the Premier League.

Again, we cannot afford to become dewy-eyed over such an initiative.

The protagonists weren’t just concerned with merely cleaning up football’s image by filling their stadia with families rather than the hooligans who had blighted the game over the preceding decade but obtaining a bigger share of the pot rather than distributing profits among the lesser lights.

As part of the so-called ‘Big Five’ at the time, with neighbours Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham; Everton chiefs were among the driving forces for such change.

An ambitious owner facing a closed shop

Everton majority shareholder and billionaire investor, Farhad Moshiri arrives. Photo by Ian Cooper
Everton majority shareholder and billionaire investor, Farhad Moshiri arrives. Photo by Ian Cooper

The Blues are now fortunate to enjoy a benefactor with the vision of Farhad Moshiri, who declared at his first general meeting in January 2017: “It’s not enough to say you are a special club and a great club, we don’t want to be a museum.”

However for all Mr Moshiri’s great wealth and ambition, Everton are not currently dining at European football’s top table and if if a breakaway super league were to be created – supposedly timetabled for 2021, a year before the club’s long-awaited new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock is scheduled for – they face the unpalatable scenario of never being granted a chair among such illustrious company again.

The plans for a new riverside home “on the banks of the royal blue Mersey” could be the crowning glory and longest-lasting legacy of the Iranian-born majority shareholder’s tenure and one of the main talking points among fans remains the potential capacity.

If the status quo remains and the breakaway never comes to fruition – the game’s authorities have already threatened the potential rebel clubs with damning measures of ostracisation – then with sound management Everton retain a sporting chance of in time getting back to the summit and the much-vaunted figure of around 60,000 could be deemed realistic.

But if the current big boys jump ship, would Blues supporters still turn out in great numbers to see their side reduced to playing in a rump Premier League?

What life might be like if the big boys leave

Tempers flaring between Everton’s Mason Holgate (left) and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino during the FA Cup, third round match at Anfield
(Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

Daring to gaze into the crystal ball and imagining what such a dystopian future might look like, the following factors come into play.

First of all with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all gone, ‘best of the rest’ Everton would immediately be installed as one of the title favourites, slugging it out with Tottenham Hotspur and their own rebuilt stadium which would have gone from being a new White Hart Lane to ‘White Elephant.’

But as Celtic and Rangers have found to their cost, being a big fish in a small pond can become rather restrictive and monotonous.

Also with English football’s elite now operating at a supposed level above, the best players would be even more inclined to go there rather than the Blues.

Gone too of course would be Merseyside derbies – perhaps many of you are by now quipping that you’re still waiting for the negatives? – but as much as these emotionally-charged games against Liverpool have become largely painful affairs for Everton in recent years along with their other fixtures against the sides earmarked to be part of the prospective trans-continental circus, the football calendar would become somewhat empty without them.

Going against the fairness of sport

Marco Silva
(Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

The hope of the majority of football watchers (whether their affiliation is with Everton, a another similarly-sized club or indeed teams from all levels of the pyramid) is of course that the plans for the breakaway super league are kicked into touch.

What sticks in the craw the most about such greedy and selfish machinations is that they are being hatched with the supporters themselves at the very bottom of their priorities even though these are the people who provide the heartbeat that keeps football alive.

One of main factors that makes club football in England and the rest of Europe so great is its organic ‘living’ dimension.

There are promotions and relegations. Clubs rise and fall by their own merits or lack of them.

As much as the game has evolved since its pioneering days of the Victorian period, that has generally been the case.

Teams are granted their place on results over the course of a single season, not through invitation to any kind of private members’ club.

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