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Notes from Colm Kavanagh on the 2003 Annual General Meeting of Everton Football Club Co Ltd
Thursday 30 October 2003


The cast was set:

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil the triumvirate of Messrs Carter, Kenwright and Gregg.  Michael Dunford kept his head down throughout, as did our other directors.  David Moyes completed the line-up.

I'm told Sir Philip Carter is a master of these events, well versed in "handling" a valid question and responding with a suitably meaningless non-answer.  T'was to be a night of many non-answered questions but, to the more seasoned attendees, this was nothing new.  Par for the course.  The meeting began with Sir Philip Carter referring to questions put to the Board in advance by the Shareholders Association. 

Kings Dock

The failure to secure the King's Waterfront was shrugged off. " We had the money in place" was the claim "but spiralling costs left us with no choice but to withdraw."  Believe whatever you want to believe...

We were told that strengthening the team for David Moyes was of the utmost concern therefore the Dock dream was allowed to die the death.  After some years of hype and glossy brochures proclaiming the King's Waterfront project as a vision within reach, the fact that the Chairman saw fit to bury a comment in his statement from the Annual Report was incredible.  "The decision by Everton and the public sector not to proceed with the King's Waterfront development because of unsustainable rising costs brought to an end the vision of a new home on the banks of the Mersey; it was not to be."

Needless to say, more than a few eyebrows were raised.  This had been the most debated topic surrounding Everton Football Club over the past number of seasons.  And yet, with a mere shrug of the shoulders in passing, we were told that it had received more than enough publicity and that the world and his wife had expressed their opinion and now moved on.  Okay then, Mr Chairman; if you say so.

Stadium Sharing

The notion of a stadium shared with our lovable neighbours was not dismissed out of hand.  Everton have already conducted one meeting with Liverpool Football Club, at the belated instigation of the public sector.  Carter expressed an opinion that "if the city council or public sector wish to spend their money and build the stadium and offer it to the club, we would be foolish not to consider it and I underline consider it."  

We were told of another planned meeting in the coming week with the other parties.  "If there is a distinct advantage financially to Everton then we as a board must consider it.  If it progresses further then we will take the matter out to the fans."  With yet another 86% in favour "vote"?  Hmmm....

Plans to redevelop Goodison Park were also a consideration for the Board.  Honest!

Youth Academy

Planning permission will be sought (and very probably granted) to the Halewood site within the next couple of months.  The training complex will be paid for entirely by the sale of Bellefield (which EFC are confident will get planning permission for housing).   This revelation was to later inspire one portly member of the audience to tackle Carter over alleged comments made last year that some of the Bear Stearns money was supposedly to be made available for the Academy.  Carter denied saying as much last season.  Was the Bear Stearns money spent elsewhere?  Why was the money for the sale of Bellefield now intended for usage towards the new Academy?  Who shot John F Kennedy?

David France Collection

The collection, we were told, was the subject of much debate among the Board.  This unique collection of Everton memorabilia put together by author David France over the years is astounding.  Christie's and Southeby's have valued it at around 500,000.  The Everton Board is committed to buying it... if they can.  However, it was ominous that Carter chose this moment to suggest that, if the Board were to purchase the complete collection, then it was possible that David Moyes would receive less funding for the team, which, of course, was "our utmost concern". 

No matter what opinion any one has on this matter, and on the morals of its current owner, the bottom line remains that this is the greatest one-club collection of memorabilia ever assembled. Amongst the items contained within, the minutes of every Board meeting from 1883 to 1970 - including the split in 1892 which created our evil offspring from across yonder (the birth of that particular club).  If Everton Football Club fail to secure this collection and it ends up elsewhere (say, LFC for example) then a collective hanging of heads in shame and gnashing of teeth will simply not be enough.

Commerce and Merchandising

Commercial Manager Andy Hosie, and his team, was complimented for their efforts and we were told that Hosie has plans ahead for new methods of increasing revenue (income via merchandise sales almost doubling over the past year). 

Andy Hosie has just got back from China where he was investigating ways to continue the relationship with Kejian (and other far eastern companies) not necessarily as main sponsors however.  We were told that the Club would be finally travelling over to China in 2004 to compete in a tournament; details to be announced at a future date.

The Annual Accounts

The financial health of the Club was then given closer inspection.  It confuses most rank and file Evertonians when we see the Club enjoy an operating profit of 5.6M yet that figure does not include the monies from written-off transfer fees (14.3M) and the 0.9M that was ultimately written off to cover professional fees in relation to the King's Waterfront project (Houston Securities etc.).  Regarding their involvement, the money Everton paid to Houston Securities to develop and pursue the Kings Dock bid and pay all the outside consultants and contractors is recorded in the Accounts how Houston Securities divided that money up themselves does not appear to be known.

Despite continued growth in turnover of 22%, and a 66% increase in turnover growth since 1999/2000, we are currently some 34M in debt.  27M of that is not due for repayment for at least five years.  Say that last sentence again and say it without thinking about Wayne's Rooney's next Everton contract!

Basically, and somewhat simplistically (with tongue in cheek), we've gone from having a lot of ring-fenced monies to having little or nothing to having 6M plus to buy Barry Ferguson but now we've not even got that money to buy Sean Davis.  Simple, this financial malarkey.  There was some acknowledgment that the Board were actively pursuing methods by which new finance can be raised including new investors, potential rights issue, etc.

Elections to the Board

The re-election of Messrs Tamlin and Gregg to the Board was swift.  With True Blue owning the biggest piece of the pie, their fate was never an issue.  I might sound a little harsh but watching the man throughout the evening, I got the impression that Paul Gregg simply did not want to be present at the meeting.  He is caught between the rock and a hard place no love of football and most certainly no love for Everton Football Club.  Congratulations on your election, Mr Gregg we anticipate great things from you over the coming seasons.  Nurse!

Stand up, David Moyes

David Moyes, deservedly, received a warm ovation from the gathering as he rose to speak.  Ah, words cannot describe what an effect this man has had on our Club in such a short space of time.  He took questions from the floor. 

The last minute nature of August was caused solely by the late injury to Davis (who otherwise would have signed).  Asked about the current position regarding our (many) goalkeepers, he remarked that Nigel Martyn had been an excellent addition to the squad as he intended to try to give Richard Wright stiffer competition.  Wright's knee injury continues to cause concern: Wright can run but has pain when he kicks - he is being scanned next week to see exactly what's wrong (and how it could be fixed).  Moyes felt he needed cover with Martyn (which now looks like a good decision) so Nigel's arrival has proven timely and validated over recent weeks!  He was happy with the progress being made by Iain Turner, who is "still filling out"! and has more to learn.

Alex Nyarko's recent return to playing matters was also discussed with Moyes sounding somewhat cautious about Nyarko's chances for further inclusion in the first team.  Having said that, I expect to see Moyesy sticking with the Ghanaian for the foreseeable future!

The current ill health of football, in general, saw David comment that the transfer market was literally dead.  He had received no phone calls from any other clubs regarding any of our players.  He hopes to bring players in but in order to do that he must move players out.  With little or no expressed interest from other clubs, that is infinitely easier said than done.

Questions from the Floor

Mark Denny tackled the Chairman over the King's Dock debacle and, well, he still awaits an answer to his question posed...

Some Irish git stood up and asked the board what had happened to our "traditional" association with Irish football.  Where once Everton enjoyed a more than healthy support (of Man U proportions!), it had now dwindled to the faithful hardcore.  Was our ill-fated and very costly sponsorship of Home Farm back in the mid '90s a deciding factor and do we no longer scout for players in Ireland? 

Firstly, I was glad to hear David Moyes reply by saying we do indeed scout Ireland. The fact that David then went on to state that many young Irish kids return home without breaking into the clubs in England and that quite a number of young Irish talent have ridiculous "price tags" on their heads was good enough for me, as it was indeed a valid assessment.  However, the fact remains that talent is forever emerging and it's simply a matter of weeding the good from the bad.  Nil satis nisi optimum, eh?!

John Shearon requested that the Board acknowledge the fine achievement of our Chilean cousins in winning the Primera B Championship.  Michael Dunford informed all that acknowledgement had already been dispatched.

When asked about our interest in Fulham's Sean Davis, David Moyes was asked whether we were monitoring his progress since his return from injury.  Before you could bat an eyelid, David went on to say that Davis had played 45 minutes, 75 minutes and then two 45-minute games in his last four outings for Fulham's reserves.  'Nuff said.

Comment came from the floor about the state of our PA - I SAID, COMMENT CAME FROM THE FLOOR ABOUT THE STATE OF OUR PA!  Even Carter was quick to agree that the PA system was a bit on the loud side.  He's obviously never been to Glastonbury then.

Mike Owen wanted to ask a question to Mr Gregg about his personal wealth, baffled as one might expect to be continually reading Mr Gregg's name in the Rich Lists.  Carter took exception and wouldn't allow Mr Gregg's personal wealth to become an issue.  Cue mumble mumble... even rhubarb rhubarb thrown in for good measure..  Mr Gregg, arguably left with little choice, took the question and answered the question posed by Mike.  "It would be wonderful if we could all write out a cheque.  But everybody on the board is in business and has got personal restraints on how we deal with our finances."  Errrrr, right then.

Finally, Ian Macdonald stood up and read his version of War and Peace.  I have to hand it to Mac a superbly penned speech detailing those we have to acknowledge and thank for getting us to this lofty position we now enjoy (think of Peter Johnson and appreciate the progress made).  In acknowledging the efforts of Bill Kenwright, he also pleaded for new financial investment to be found.  Paul Gregg kept his head down.

The meeting was closed after a short speech from John Sinnott, Chairman of the Shareholders Association.

Colm Kavanagh


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