Last night's Annual General Meeting started with a predictable statement
by Sir Philip Carter: as both the media negotiations and the application
for the King's dock were subject to strict confidentiality rules, there
could be no specific discussion of either topic at the meeting.
Sir Philip added that there were seven proposals accepted for the King's Dock, and
that their second round submissions have to be in by 17 January 2001,
including a model of how the development will look. Sir Philip urged
all Evertonians to go and look at all the submissions when they are put on
display in St Georges Hall, then write to your Councillors, local press,
etc showing support for the Blues' bid.
Report and Accounts
Turnover up by 11% to £28.1M; match receipts up by 10%. Sales
costs up by 4%. The Club would have had a £1.35M operating profit
but for exceptional items, like:
- Costs associated with the takeover (£513k) this
cost was solely for Johnson's advisors, as True Blue Holdings paid all
of their own costs incurred in the takeover;
- EFC's share of the Football League Pension Scheme deficit (£750k)
this scheme is under close scrutiny by the regulatory authorities,
and EFC may get some or all of their money back; and
- Under a change in the Accounting rules, depreciation on Buildings is
now charged to the profit and loss account, some £600k.
Liabilities reduced by £7M. Insurance valuation of playing staff
in May 2000 was £43M, now increased to £60M after further
acquisitions. The Club is confident that the current transfer system
will be maintained, and that the book value of the playing staff is
Re-Election of Directors
Lord Grantchester retires from the Board. "I have had no
disagreement with my fellow directors, but feel that business commitments
now make it impossible for me to continue on the Board. I will,
however, continue to attend at Goodison Park for football. I wholly
endorse and support the takeover by True Blue Holdings." Keith
Tamlin re-elected, with John Woods and Paul Gregg.
First resolution makes provision for (among other things) the payment
of dividends. Second resolution changes stock into shares. Simple
conversion, bringing the Club into line with modern practice.
Both resolutions were intended to bring the Club's rules and articles
into one document, in modern terminology and using modern methods.
They were both passed.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Mike Owen: The two main ideas to
address the deficit (Kings Dock and the Media Deal) we cannot discuss; but
the statement skates over the Youth Policy and the Academy we must NOT
ignore this crucial part of the Club. We MUST develop the
kids. Maybe the Club needs more "hands-on" talented
Administrative people and Senior Management to run the Business.
Where is the STRATEGY? If we don't get the King's Dock, what's the
alternative? Have we investigated other sites? We've lost
Speke and Gilmoss, now given over to other development, so what else is
there? Have the Club considered a shared stadium, because if we
don't get the Dock, many fans might be prepared to agree to
Sir Philip Carter: Thank you, some very good points
there. Please come and see us afterwards, and we can talk about them
Steve Allinson: Why is the Club now
making provision for the payment of dividends? I don't want
dividends, I want all the money ploughed back into the Club, and I'm sure
I speak for all of the shareholders.
Club Lawyer The old articles of association, dated
1862 [Eh? 1892, surely???], make provision for dividends, and there
is in fact no departure from that position. Should the Directors
continue with the policy as heretofore, then dividends will continue not
to be paid, but essentially nothing has changed.
Questions and Answers with Walter Smith
There followed a question and answer session with the manager, which
went on for some time:
Paul Wharton: In the Daily
Express a couple of months ago, you were quoted as saying we were a
top six side. How much cash do you need now to make us into
Walter Smith: What I said was that last season's top six were
the six clubs that spent the most. We can strive to get up there but
we are hampered by historical problems at the Club, plus some unenvisaged
changes (ie, the loss of Barmby and Collins) didn't help. There's
been no stability at the Club 56 transfers in 2½ years. Usually
when we have brought in a player, we have had to sell one out to balance
the books. The bottom line is that we must raise our financial
profile before we can raise our standards on the pitch.
Gary Woollam: You talk about the
loss of stability, but recently you sold three internationals
Hutchison, Barmby and Dunne. Did you have to sell them?
Walter Smith: We're still not in a great financial
position. With Barmby, we tried as hard as we could, but he wouldn't
stay. In the end, we got £6 million for Barmby, and made a profit
on Hutchison. We are trying to make the Club more attractive to
players, but it will take time. The initiatives the Board are
working on will help in the medium term. It has been years since we
had any stability, but now we have it and this will eventually show
Philip Harris: Do the players
have 'flu jabs?
Walter Smith: Yes, they all do. But the lads who are ill
at present have a viral infection, not the 'flu.
Philip Harris: As we've so
many players ill, I would like to commend the ground staff in failing to
get the pitch ready for tomorrow's match v Leeds
John Sweeney: Why did you
sell Don Hutchison? He's doing so well for Sunderland, and he never
let us down.
Walter Smith: There were awkward contractual problems, and
negotiations were fraught and protracted. There was a fair bit of
aggravation for about six or seven months, and eventually we felt that it
was right not to continue, but to let the player go.
Kevin Nolan: Referring to the
Boxing Day match v Coventry
City, I note that this was the feast of St Stephen, the first
Christian Martyr; after this performance, many fans must have known
exactly how he felt. We wonder about the spirit and motivation of
the team; some players don't seem to know each other; is the right level
of motivation there?
Walter Smith: At our level, motivation is a more subtle
and different thing. It's true the players are strangers with
our injury levels running at an average of eight players for every game,
we have not yet settled the team, and this means problems in team
organisation. The last five games were very disappointing,
especially Manchester City,
and I take responsibility for it. At Maine Road, I remember saying
to Dave Watson, "Look at those fans stuck out in the open over in
that corner they must be soaked. And we're serving up this
display." It was miserable enough under cover. I do know
it hurts, and I do take responsibility.
Norman Dainty: On behalf of
all the shareholders, I would just like to say we wholeheartedly support
you in full, both the Board and the Manager, and we would particularly
like to thank Michael Dunford for the time he has devoted to talking to us
and the fans groups, and to thank our wonderful manager, Walter Smith.
Ian Macdonald: Ian read out his
"Wake Up Call" to the meeting. Afterwards, he said that
this was not intended to rock the boat or criticise anyone, but to make
sure the Board and the Manager know that the fans are very, very worried
about the Club's current position. It must be sorted out now, before
we end up going down the divisions just like Man City!
Walter Smith: Everybody shares the disappointment in the
poor recent results. It's a natural assumption to say the players
aren't trying, but they are. At Everton, the problems have been here
for years and years. Only since I came here did I realise how much
instability there is and has been. At my last Club a Club older
than Everton I was only their ninth manager, and the current manager
is the tenth. Here, there have been seven managers in ten
years. This is a recipe for disorganisation, and that's what has
happened. I don't want to leave, but I also believe that it would
not be in the Club's interests either, because another change of manager
might bring further instability into the Club. The bottom line is
that finances dictate success, and until we sort out the financial side,
we can't hope for lasting success. Because of the deep-seated
problems at the Club, we've not yet had a team as such this season, I
Phil Pellow: At the present
time, the Kings Dock and the Club's Media Deal are not what the fans are
interested in. The Club's survival in the Premier League is by far
the most important issue, and I urge everyone at the top table to make
sure it is their number one priority as well.
Walter Smith: I agree. Although we will be
concentrating all our efforts on every PL game, I would also add that we
will be hoping for a good FA Cup run as well, for if we get our
injured players back we feel we might have a chance.
Questions and Answers for The Board
Sir Philip Carter then attempted to wind up the meeting, there being no
further questions for Walter Smith... Mike Owen pointed out that
although questions to Walter Smith had been allowed, there had not yet
been any questions to the Board. At the start of the meeting, Sir
Philip had indicated that there would be questions and answers, but did
not specify only for Walter Smith.
Sir Philip agreed to take questions addressed to the Board.
Paul Wharton: Did Nick Barmby
receive any loyalty bonuses when he left us?
Michael Dunford: The terms of Barmby's contract were paid
up in accordance with the contract, but we cannot divulge personal details
in such matters.
Paul Wharton: Will some of
next year's TV cash be set aside for the Youth Academy?
Sir Philip Carter: It is not possible at this time to
specifically allocate funds to any particular project, because there are
so many other costs consider, like stadium maintenance, players, etc, so
we can't specify at this early stage how next year's monies will be
allocated. We do, of course, place a very high priority on the development
of young players, and we accept that although our youth coaches are
excellent, at present their facilities are poor.
Paul Wharton I would like to
ask Mr Gregg if he has any football background.
Paul Gregg: Not as such. I have known Bill for some
time now, and when he told me he had made a deal to acquire the Club, I
said to him that if he needed help in financing it, he should let me
know. He did, and here I am. Since I have been on the Board, I
have been struck by the determination and enthusiasm of the Board and the
fans this is the binding characteristic of Everton Football
Club. I am certain that the Board will wake this sleeping giant, and
make it competitive in the Premier League. As to football
background, I suppose not much, but I believe I can be an asset to the
Paul Wharton: I think it's GOOD
that you have little football background, because you can take business
decisions without blue-tinted glasses.
First, I think that the fans who dared to question the smooth running
of the meeting and bring up at least some of the problems did very
well. It is a very smooth operation, and they nearly railroaded it
all through without demur, but a small bunch of us stood up and asked at
least some questions the other 200 said nowt. It is not easy,
believe me, to stand up in front of the microphone and have a
Second, Ian MacDonald remarked this morning that it was like watching
the orchestra playing on the Titanic, and very astute that remark
is. Lots of self-congratulatory back slapping and smiles, lots of
patronising patter one almost felt that we were being fed crumbs from
the table, and jolly grateful we should be for them, too! Meanwhile,
the team is shite and we are plummeting down the Premier
Third, after the meeting was over, and everyone was upstairs for drinks
(free bar) and nibbles, Walter Smith arrived and made straight for the
fans corner, where resided myself, Charlie Crosby, Keith Wilson, and Ian
Macdonald. Walter ignores everyone else in the room and spends
twenty minutes talking to Ian and the other fans. He knows how wet
we were at Maine Road and Bristol.
Finally, although we didn't achieve much, we at least got some
debate onto the agenda, and set the precedent of questions for the Board
at the end of the meeting. All Evertonians owe a debt to Mike Owen, Ian
MacDonald, Garry Woollam, Steve Allinson and Paul Wharton for having the
courage to stand up and have a go.