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DUNFORD MEETS THE FANS


Notes on a meeting between Chief Executive Michael Dunford, and Everton fans representatives, including the Everton Independent Supporters Association, 15 June 2000

 

 PRESENT

 
* Ian MacDonald, Independent Blues
* Charlie Crosby, Chairman, Independent Blues
* Barry Murray, Secretary Independent Blues
* Jim King, Everton Supporters Club (Official) 
* Kevin Nolan, Everton Shareholders Association.
 

 QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 
The agenda for the meeting was formulated as a series of questions submitted by Ian MacDonald, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the supporters.  Dunford's answers are sumarized as follows, with additional comments [in italics] from Ian MacDonald.
  • Youth scouting in Ireland 
    • Is there any?
    • Any chance of improvement?
    • Shamrock rovers?

Michael Dunford: Everton' s involvement with Home Farm was costing 60,000 per annum.  It was felt at the time that it was not worth it, as the scouts, etc., already had contacts with other clubs.  Sure enough, McPhail of Leeds has come recently from Home Farm, but nothing came through during our period of sponsorship.  (Richard Dunne arrived pre-sponsorship.) Nice shirt at the time though; Everton on the front of Home Farm kit.  

Shamrock Rovers have already been in contact with Everton regarding a similar deal to Home Farm.   Everton are hoping to play a couple of games in Eire next season to enhance our support there more.

  • Ballboys: can they please be brought back?

MD: YES, they are coming back next season.  Due to the health and safety regulations locally, it was impossible to have public ball boys, but Everton have got around this and all the ball boys next season (there will be four) will come exclusively from the academy.  The lads will train for half an hour before the game

  • Fans share issue, any scope in the near future?

MD: Yes, hopefully in 12 months time.  It is the wish of True Blue Holdings that a larger number of fans can own a share of our club.  

The main concern at the moment is the media deal, of which it seems it was prudent not to have jumped in earlier.  A better deal appears on the horizon; Bill is talking to three media groups not just one. It is interesting to note that, of the 'big clubs', Everton, Arsenal and Spurs have not signed up with media companies yet, so maybe we will get rid of the poor club finances once and for all soon with Sky's monies, kit deals, etc.  Peter Johnson will be sick when its stated how much Everton are valued at soon considering what he 'sold' us for... 

The downside of the current media deals is that we might have only a handful of Saturday games Sundays and Mondays for Sky, Sundays for pay per view and Sunday games for the teams competing in Europe.

  • Definite announcement about Goodison move or stay, Kings Dock or akin to dockland hinterland would even turn my head, but nowhere else personally.

MD: Well, as you may already know, there will definitely be an announcement before Christmas 2000 this time, a fair feasibility study will be made.  Terry Ward of Twickenham development fame has been hired to do his bit [Dunford says he has been impressed by Terry's professionalism, so thanks to the GFE for introducing Terry to our task] and tentative moves have been made to the council regarding the logistics of us staying at Goodison Park. [My dream of the docklands move is also apparently other people's dreams within the board; maybe it will not become reality but it's going to be investigated, ie the availability of grants, etc.] 

60 to 65,000 capacity is what we are looking at, so you may be looking at skyscraper stands to do that at Goodison due to the landlocking aspect.  Gilmoss is not a favourite any more, as it is not commercially viable enough.

Presently, Goodison is being given more than just a lick of paint; it is being revamped as much as possible for the 12th of August as a "thank you" to the fans.  We are not awash with money but, whether we stay or go, we can't let our ground look like the Titanic on the seabed.  A large screen is being installed between Bullens road and the Park end with 85% visibility.  More lighting throughout the stadium; a royal blue band right around the ground, highlighted with new signage. 

The board accepts the ground is looking tired and a move or stay adventure will not be completed for at least three years.  Statues of Alex Young, Tommy Lawton and our 'Dixie' are being commissioned now to be situated at the Park End.  They may not be ready for the new season, but better late than never.  The mega store is also currently being gutted to accommodate the new Puma line, which Joe Parkinson assures me is classy (but bear in mind Joe comes from Wigan).  A computer centre to be housed within the main stand for the local community (25 computers) for tuition.  [I know anyone reading this will think "I'd better enroll now..."]

  • Bellefield brought into the 21st century! 

MD: Announcement on Bellefield and the Youth Academy site at Netherton to be made at the same time as a our ground move.

  • Scouting overseas, particularly Scandinavia?

MD: Walter has employed one already.  Walter does not want any more non-EEC players with the baggage they usually bring.  John Ebbrell is to be appointed as a full time chief/head scout, with a national network of scouts we can trust.

  • Kick-offs at 7.45 pm for easier transport home, especially the younger fans?

MD: Kick-offs will stay at 8 pm next season, but a referendum will be held to see if an earlier kick off is wanted the following season.

  • Season tickets, could an announcement be made earlier than the last home game? There is nothing to hide so come out with price increases no more cloak and dagger times again?

MD: There is nothing to hide and earlier announcements will be made regarding season tickets from now on.

  • Golden Goal competition: all profits to be stated for the soul benefit of youth team development, loud and clear?

MD: Yes, this is to be brought in for next season.  Sales are up from the 50/50 draw and a endorsement of all proceeds going to the youth set up will made.

  • League cup game- nominal prices to schoolkids for the 2nd Round, particularly to thank loyalty of fans through troubled times?

MD: There was a positive reaction from the board on this one: 10 and 5 for a game is a definite possibility (subject to the opposing team agreeing).  Any ideas out there on how to get low category games filled up (sensible ones please!).

  • Dad and lad tickets for non-pulling visiting teams. (Spurs have stolen our idea already!)

MD: See above

  • Season Ticket Purchase Plan

HFC not to be so fussy we are buying a season ticket, not a house; non-payment means no ticket as simple as that throughout the season.  A lot of fans who would like to use this facility are put off at the beginning to even apply, especially with two price increases in the last two years.

MD: 3,500 fans have already took up this option, but a more sensitive approach will be investigated.

  • Marketing manager for the brand name Everton to be were it belongs? Is there such a post?

MD: Yes, an advertising manager will be head hunted from outside football, preferably from a blue chip company. A PR company is to be employed for the brand name nationally.

  • Players current and incoming?

MD: Walter has identified four new players he wants, and bids are in.  On Dunne, as we all know, he has a weight problem.  When Walter came he was told Ball will become a captain of the club, but sadly Walter has not seen anything really to endorse this, so if he wants to be a first-teamer he needs to pull his socks up.  Of Jeffers: talented; not going anywhere unless silly money is involved and will figure at start of next season. Kevin Campbell is not finished and, as already stated, he will be a month behind everybody else.  None  of these players are for sale.

Of Hutchinson, unless he does a U-turn, he will not figure greatly in Walter's plans obviously.  There has been only one firm offer for Hutch: 1M from Peter Reid pre-Deadline Day.  Of our loveable Nick, contract talks started the same time as Hutch 24th of March to be exact.  Dunford met Barmby's agent, who told Dunford what he wanted.  Board said no at first, then later agreed. Agent then said Barmby wanted to see out contract, so don't bother talking again. 

Walter wants to see him face to face first to see why if he was happy in March with what he wanted, why is he not happy now? ["No more hiding behind bloody agents!" my words, not Walter's.  And Walter wants to ask him personally if he wants to play for Everton, because if he wants out Walter won't pick him next season!  Perhaps, he's been tapped already?  If not, Barmby's on dangerous ground.]

Other topics included:

  • A benefit match, if enough interest, for the older Everton players still around who have fallen on hard times. 
  • New 60 paged hardback programme for about 2.50p or less 
  • Everton to have official annual awards. Player, young player, fans', writer's, etc, like the Academy awards. 
  • In bad weather the Park End opened up during the sale of tickets 
  • The Preston pre-season friendly game.  [In Preston's wisdom, the Everton fans are to be seated  in the Bill Shankly stand anyone in the real world want to write to Michael Dunford and complain, please do and get the stand changed before we do.]
 

 POSTSCRIPT

 

So as you can see, there is a definite movement back to the fans.  Bill Kenwright is doing his best to embrace the fans and reward them for their loyalty.  He can't please everyone, but he's moving in a right and proper direction.  All the above is a start, but it will take time and a lot of money to put us back to were we belong.  I, personally, will give him as much help as possible.  

Less than eight months ago I sat in my seat thinking someone, somewhere in Jersey, is strangling my club and taking our loyalty and passion, stuffing it down our throats to make us soul search as to why we were still paying hard- earned money for what was ultimately, a red's benefit.  You know the rest... 

We have a chance now let's work together and watch Everton at a level we want.  I dread to think what could be happening to us now if the vacuum of PJ had continued.  I'm not gullible, just realistic.  There was no one else to take the club off PJ.  And the only reason why I get invited to such meetings like the one above, is because of our group of fans.

 Ian Macdonald on behalf of the EISA

  

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Copyright 2000  Ian MacDonald

Last updated: 13 February 2009