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Shareholders Association Executive Committee

More responses to Mickey Blue Eyes from Mike Owen and Anne Asquith

A reply from Mike Owen, a member of the Everton Shareholders Association Executive Committee.

In response to remarks made by Michael Durkin regards the Everton Shareholders Association Executive Committee, I would like to make eight points:

  1. Michael, you say you were keen to see change in the Shareholders Association (SA).  The person who has done most to bring about change in the SA was Steve Allinson who encouraged Evertonians he knew to become shareholders.  Steve bought a batch of shares then sold them one by one to Evertonians, many of whom had known him for many years.  It was their attendance at last year's SA AGM that led to the change of officers.  I think, Michael, you were well aware of that at the time.
  2. You talk about the Reform Group as if it were currently comprising the Shareholders Association committee.  Only five or six of the Reform Group actually stood for election to the committee last year.  Most, including yourself, chose not to stand.  The Reform Group held about five meetings in the run-up to last year's SA AGM.  I attended part of one meeting, at which I stated my reservations.  However on the night of the AGM, after much thought, I voted in support of the officers put forward by the Reform Group.  But I never felt I had an obligation to follow any manifesto.
  3.  The SA Executive Committee 2003-04 was comprised of three elements: First, there were long-standing committee members with an understandably strong attachment to the previous officers. Second, some were there as committed supporters of the Reform Group.  Third, others were there as independents.  It was a combustible mix.

    After the trauma of the 2003 AGM, the SA officers were keen to make the year productive, to justify the upset caused at the AGM last June.  The officers endeavoured to work as a team driving the committee forward, but sometimes it seemed, to me at least, like a committee within a committee.

    What's more, there was a huge amount on the agendas; too much.  And so inevitably discussion sometimes had to be compressed so we could move on.  Dissenters sometimes felt they were being curtailed.  The meetings could be tense.  You wouldn't know, Michael; you weren't there.

    Even though these Monday night meetings were lasting three hours or more, and without a break, there was little time for easing of the underlying tensions in the committee.

    With Steve Allinson being a prominent figure in the 2003 AGM coup, which is what it was, some of these tensions revolved around him.  He faced questions about selling shares to other Evertonians from several long-standing committee members.  On several occasions, Steve received support from John Sinnott.
  4. That press release.  It evolved from a SA working party report that was set up to look at supporters trusts and ways of injecting new capital into Everton FC.  I was asked to chair that working party.  Key to the recommendations of the working party report was that it should be publicised as widely as possible among the Everton fanbase.

    May I add that this report was compiled after three meetings of the four-member working party; many, many hours of research; countless emails and two visits to the offices of Supporters Direct, the Government-backed organisation which helps supporters trusts.  The report wasn't perfect but it was done in what was left of our spare time and the report was a good basis for discussion.

    When the report came up for discussion at the SA committee meeting on December 15, there was a fairly brief discussion.  The SA chairman argued that the EFC chairman and chief executive should in accordance with an earlier undertaking given by the SA chairman be given ample opportunity to read the working party report before it was distributed.

    Another person a member of the SA committee and of the working party report (not me, not Steve Allinson who was not present at that meeting) asked how long would the club be given before the report was distributed.  The answer given at the December 15 committee meeting was the end of the first week in January.

    Now the minutes of that committee meeting said differently.  I should have challenged those minutes. But I didn't like doing so because our secretary, who worked incredibly hard, had a huge and unenviable task in minuting our long and sometimes fractious meetings.

    The working party report was delivered by hand to the Club (after incorporating amendments agreed by the 15 December committee meeting) on 18 December.  There was a covering letter pointing out the committee's commitment to distributing the report to the membership by the middle of January, and therefore asking for comments from the club by the first week in January.

    It was following on from what was agreed at the December committee meeting that I, as chairman of that working party, gave copies of our long report to Dave Prentice of the Echo and Phil McNulty of BBC Online for them to read, but it was on condition that nothing should be published before 13 January. It is standard practice for people distributing a lengthy discussion paper to also issue an accompanying summary/press release, which I did.

    The story that went in the Echo made the idea of a rights issue a talking point among Evertonians; I'd go so far as to say it had the support of many. It showed that we didn't necessarily have to sell Wayne Rooney to raise money.

    However the press release sparked a huge row among the SA committee.  I was upset by the level of upset it caused. I apologised to the committee and offered to resign several times.  But people asked me to hang on a while, then I was asked not to resign.  So I have stayed on to complete the year.
  5. Regards the claim that the row over the press release left the SA shouting from the sidelines, I disagree; if anything it brought us off the sidelines. For the forces of conservatism at Goodison Park were unhappy with what happened at last year's SA AGM. Last summer they were intent on keeping their distance from the SA committee.
  6. I must admit though Michael I do feel the SA committee failed when it came to organising regular forums. The first one was not held until December, a full six months after the committee was elected. However a very informative one was held in March.
  7. So yes, the year could have been better. But the club is in difficult circumstances and no single thing offers a total solution. However over the last year Shareholders Association committee members have been at the forefront of the debate on the way forward.
  8. There are more points I could make. But my final one Michael is this: I note that although you are critical of the existing SA committee members, and you were critical of the 2002-03 committee, you again refuse to stand for election to the SA committee. I find that breathtaking. And that refusal to get involved gives your words a hollow ring.

Mike Owen
Everton Shareholders Association Executive Committee
31 May 2004

A reply from Anne Asquith, acting Vice Chair of the Everton Shareholders Association Executive Committee.

Once more, Mickey Blue Eyes appears to know more about the proceedings of Shareholders' Association Executive Committee meetings than those who, like me, were present (although I did miss one due to a holiday).

I would like to correct just a few statements which caught my eye and this is another personal initiative; I have not consulted any other Executive Committee members happy to resign if they object.

That Press Release this was discussed with me prior to release; I advised the officers and committee members at the January meeting that this was the case.  I understood it was also to be discussed with John Sinnott, but later learnt this had not happened due to a misunderstanding.

The Steve Allinson Share Issue A minor section in the interim report of the Supporters Trust working party (of which I was a member) referred to several past and present initiatives for increasing investment in the Club, including the share issue proposed by Steve Allinson.  John Sinnott, then Chairman of the Association, proposed a change to the wording in this section, to represent a share issue as complementary to and not exclusive of a Supporters Trust, and suggested the Executive Committee should support Steve's initiative.  As Steve was not present at this meeting, and most of the committee had little knowledge of his proposal, it was agreed that further information be requested from him before any such endorsement was made.

Resignation request When the then Chairman suddenly requested the Committee to back his call for Steve Allinson to resign, members present asked for further information.  Unfortunately, the reasons given (many unsubstantiated) were such that the majority of us could not understand, never mind agree to, without further discussion.  At the following meeting I suggested that both John Sinnott and Steve Allinson leave the meeting for a period to allow the rest of the Executive Committee to discuss the situation; unfortunately, John refused and subsequently resigned himself.

Guidelines for Shareholders' Executive Committee The points highlighted were, I believe, pertinent following several objections by members of the Executive Committee to occasions when they disagreed with a point in general argument and were asked 'Do you want that minuted?',  subsequently finding themselves named in the minutes.  It was felt that this was done in a way that could be taken as inhibiting disagreement to what at times was seen as 'the party line' the very opposite of encouraging democratic debate!

Shareholders' Dinner Mr MBE appears to see this annual event as a 'ludicrously amateurish propaganda stunt'.  PLEASE!  The 2004 dinner was a successful and very enjoyable event which raised a considerable sum for the Everton Former Players Foundation, and I'm afraid the Club's non-attendance was seen by the majority of its shareholders as something of an own goal, if not an insult to many of its loyalest supporters.

Shareholders' Association Revised Constitution A draft was discussed at the December meeting and various amendments were incorporated both from the meeting and as a result of feedback from the members of the relevant working party and other interested parties who had been sent a copy for comment.  Unfortunately, the revised draft was never finalised due to other events occupying subsequent meetings.  A revised working party met several times during March and April in order to complete the revision and ensure the final document could be presented to the Executive Committee prior to being issued in time for the Association 2004 AGM.  Members have been given considerably more time to review and comment on the final document than was provided by the Reform Group for perusal of their Manifesto last year.  If members do not wish to accept the proposed changes at the AGM, they will vote against the motion to accept the new constitution.

Shareholder Forums 2 have been held.  The committee all feel this is a major failure and would like to have done more.  Initial delays were incurred in attempting to clarify with the Club whether a summer forum would be arranged by the Board, as had been the case in previous years. (It was not arranged).

I hope this clarifies a few issues, if anyone out there is interested in the truth.

Anne Asquith
|Everton Shareholders' Association Executive Committee member, and acting Vice Chair
31 May 2004


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