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Everton Shareholders Association
Shareholders Forum

Minutes from the Forum Meeting in May 2003 

 

 Shareholders Forum

  
12 May 2003 Joe Mercer Suite, Goodison Park

Present from EFC Co Ltd: Michael Dunford (MD) and Sir Philip Carter (PC)

Minutes

Kevin Nolan (KN) opened the meeting stating that the Shareholders Association (SA) Exec Committee had drawn up a series of questions that were to be presented to the EFC Co Ltd Board.  He thanked MD and PC for their attendance and started with the first question:

Q. With the demise of the Kings Waterfront Development, what were the alternative plans that EFC are considering?

PC: The Board were having a rest from Ground considerations until the close season.  They were (and always had been) considering a catalogue of sites within Liverpool and Merseyside in general but recognised that planning consent would always be an inhibiting factor for many of those sites.

He re-iterated that it was his belief that there was plenty of life left within Goodison Park it had looked very good this season particularly in the 10 home games that were sold-out.  The Boards plan was to spend some money on Goodison this summer particularly freshening up certain parts of the ground (toilets especially).  They did recognise however, the balance between spending too much wasted money on Goodison if it is not to be the long-term home of EFC.  There is however, no specific plan yet in terms of how much might be spent, over what period, on Goodison Park.

MD: Re-iterated that there were many other sites that had been considered as part of the KD project.  Further re-iterated the point about securing planning permission.  He also said that an important point to remember was that the wider commercial benefits available at KD (since it was not just a football stadium) would not be available at other sites thereby considerably affecting the financial viability of those other sites.

Paul Wharton (PW): Will The Board go back to consult the fans on any future alternatives?

PC: Yes the fans will be consulted as before

PW: How much money had the club spent on the KD project?

PC: The final figures will be in the Accounts, but the figure was in excess of 1M... perhaps more

PW: How had the Youth Development Academy in Halewood been affected by the demise of the KD?

MD: Not affected.  The money for the Youth Academy has always been ring-fenced.  Essentially the plan is now to sell Bellefield and the money this raises pays for the majority of the Halewood development.  He also mentioned that the club have yet to secure planning permission on Halewood and therefore construction is yet to start at that site.

Mike Owen (MO):  Would it be possible to put a second Tier on the Park Stand?

PC: Yes its an option, but it is not believed to be viable.  It was an option that had been examined prior to getting involved in the KD project, but the figures are not encouraging.

MO: What is the Boards attitude towards a shared stadium?

PC: It is a logical solution, but it will not happen the desire does not exist at either club.

Mark Denny (MDe): Is it true that Peel Holdings approached the club with a proposal for a new stadium?

PC: No, he believed no approach was ever made no official approach, that is...

MDe: Had the Board taken into consideration the lessons that should be learnt from Arsenals stadium project and also Man Citys where a good deal (on closer examination) may not be quite so appealing?

PC: Yes lessons had been learnt from both projects.  Lessons had also been learnt from Sunderland where a much more positive outcome had been experienced.

Peter Owen (PO): (rambled fairly incoherently about how Goodison was once the best ground in the country and now its fallen into disrepair. Essentially waffled but asked:) Does the plan still exist to transform the Main Stand into a Cantilever Stand?  And would LFCs development in Stanley Park be affected by the KD?

PC: The Kings Dock without Everton was dead in the water (as a football stadium).  Once the costs escalated, the public sector partners pulled the plug.  EFCs costs within the project were originally believed to have been only 20M, which became 30M and then 35M and even 45M.  The club had originally been led to believe that some of the costs due to EFC could have been funded by development profits.  However, once the figures had been more closely examined, doubt was cast upon them.

MD then cast doubt on LFCs Stanley Park project going ahead.

Also, a review 5 (or possibly 8) years ago was instigated into the possibility of removing the pillars from the Main Stand.  The cost at that time had been 2.5M.  Clearly the cost for an equivalent development now, would be considerably greater and wouldnt significantly increase the financial value of the seats in the Main Stand.

Rob Evans (RE): What had been the main reasons for that cost escalation?

PC: A more detailed examination of costs had been undertaken and they had found that in particular the cost of the retractable roof and sliding pitch had been far higher than originally budgeted.  Additionally, the costs for the standard of the Arena (mainly due to additions required for non-football purposes) had escalated.

MD: The KD project had originally been scheduled to be ready for 2005.  This had extended to 2007 throughout the project.  This extension had brought with it extra inflation costs.

MO: Did Paul Gregg agree to underwrite any of the original 30M?

PC: Not at the outset of the project.  Originally, the funding from EFC had come from the clubs assets.  However, the value of these assets had been undermined by an inability to secure the relevant planning permission on them.

MDe: Regarding planning permission, Peter Johnson had originally secured planning permission on Goodison Park (after a successful appeal to the City Council), so how had the current Board found it such a problem ?

MD: Government legislation regarding planning permission had changed in the time between PJs appeal victory and the KD process.  At present EFC have been able to secure Edge of Centre planning permission on Goodison Park.  They wanted Food Retail planning permission which creates a greater value for the Goodison Park site.  The ability to secure Food Retail planning permission was the key to securing sufficient funding for EFCs share of the original KD money.

The situation currently regarding Goodison, is that Edge of Centre planning permission would be possible to secure (thereby allowing housing, leisure or retail developments).  However, the club would not be able to secure permission for Food Retail development.  This fundamentally limits the value of the Goodison Park site.

Supporters Trust Fund:

Tom Cannon (TC) then gave a speech regarding the plan to possibly introduce a Fans Trust.  He explained that the outline plan was that a Supporters Trust would be created to buy shares resulting possibly from a new share issue.  The money raised by the Trust would be guaranteed towards funding the Youth Academy.

What has been agreed is that the Board is willing in principle (subject to scale, cost and ability to guarantee raising an adequate sum of money) to embrace the idea.

Stage 1 will be Qualitative Research to assees the following questions: 

  • What kind of internal organisation would be most appropriate for the Trust? 
  • What would the ideal level of investment from Trust members be? 
  • How many shares would /  could be secured?
  • What would be the permissable uses of that investment? 

Focus Groups of supporters and interested parties would be created.

Stage 2 would be Quantitative Research.  If the results of Stage 1 were encouraging, then a detailed examination regarding how much money could be raised, exactly how many shares would be bought.

If all goes well, a Prospectus would be issued to supporters early next season.

Norman Price (NP): What would be the difference between the Trust and the Rights Issue that Peter Johnson initiated?

TC: 2 main differences;

(a) the Trustees would be responsible for controlling the price at which the shares would be bought;
(b) a Rights Issue forces existing Shareholders to back the issue with their own money.

Richard Lewis (RL): Will the value of the shares to be sold by the club be known in advance?

TC: The price/amount of shares available would be dependant on how much it is believed the Trust could raise.

MDe: There would have to be obvious benefits to supporters to induce them to invest in the Trust. What would those benefits be?

TC: Unknown at present although he agreed that there would have to be an array of benefits

PC: More research would be needed before precise benefits (for supporters) would be identified.

Other Business

  • - Season Ticket Renewal forms were posted last Weds they should be arriving at home addresses any day now.
  • The Board have a commitment to an available amount of match-day tickets for walk-up fans and as such, they may cap the available season ticket figure at 27,000. MD said that for every 1,000 season ticket that is sold, there is a loss of 140,000 compared against the money raised by selling the seat for all 19 home matches (assuming the seat would be sold for every match). This is a factor in potentially capping the number of available season tickets.
  • There will be a Marketing campaign targeting new fans to become season ticket holders.
  • The SA will send a letter to Moyes thanking/congratulating him on this seasons performance. PC did say Moyes is distraught we failed to finish 6th.
  • PC said that Duncan Ferguson had let the club down badly with his behaviour at the end of the Man Utd game. PC was sure that Moyes would be having a word with him about it.
  • We are awaiting Moyes giving a date when the SA can visit Bellefield and be shown around.

Mde: Why is the new shirt available at 40 in the club shop but only 30 at JJB (where they also offer a buy 2 get 1 free scheme)?

MD: JJB have chosen to loss-lead on football shirts and no club (let alone Everton) particularly want to get into a price war with them.  MD did concede that it is disappointing that JJB do this.

PW: Why do the club still sell tickets for our away matches to opposition supporters? (He quoted a specific example from Arsenal away this season)

MD: If the club has evidence of exactly which seats, then since they keep a record of exactly who bought each seat, then they will take action against specific individuals who buy those tickets.

MO: Does the club scout in Ireland?

MD: Yes there are at least 3 scouts throughout Ireland (North and South).  He mentioned the Home Farm experiment and explained that the problem was that a tie-up does not guarantee any players coming to Everton.  He gave the example that even whilst EFC had a tie-up with Home Farm, at least 4 of the players that Home Farm had, went to other clubs (Leeds primarily).  This is mainly due to the fact that ultimately, the choice of which club a child signs for, sits with the parent of that child regardless of any formal tie-up

  • The reserves will not be playing at The Halton Stadium next season.  The pitch is not up to standard (given Runcorn FC and Widnes Vikings also play there).  The reserves will most likely move to Southport FC.
  • The China Tour. The commitment to go to China still exists and the most likely course of action will be for the tour to be re-arranged to a free (international) weekend in October SARS permitting.

MDe: Are there any plans for the make-up of the Board to change during the Summer; does PC have any plans to retire?

PC: There are no plans to change any of the members of the Board and he has no intention of retiring.

KN: There will be a Shareholders Page on the new EFC web-site, the plan is to place information regarding minutes, meetings, newsletters on that page.

Meeting Closes.

  
  


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