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Fans Comment
Jamie Rowland


Another Year goes by...
28 July 2005

Finally on the up as it were, Everton Football Club can now look to the future and build from a season of outweighing all expectation and landing a Champions League Qualifying spot for their efforts.  This is an extract from The Times newspaper, shortly after Liverpool lost away to Arsenal, resulting in Everton securing fourth place in the Premiership.

Reading this article, one has to assume that Everton is moving in the right direction after having to take several steps backward to re-evaluate the clubs situation.  No doubt can be cast over the team, other than it is a still a small squad that needs strengthening, not necessarily improving.  Evertons transfer dealings this year have been somewhat rash and overall a failure.  That is a different story but the reasons why Everton have not done as well as expected in the market are partly the subject of this article.

Although the team is looking ship-shape and the management/coaches are getting it right, are the backroom staff doing their bit?

By referring to backroom staff, it is not meant to include stewards and the like but is more to concentrate on the boardroom, non-executive directors and the chief executive.  Have they got it right?  Are they going in the same direction, at the same pace as the playing section of the club?

Keith Wyness joined at the start of the last campaign with an enormous task on his hands make EFC some money.  Everton had just sold their prized asset, the Board was in-fighting and the club, finishing 17th, was tipped for the abyss that is the Championship.  KW took on the role nevertheless and immediately set out his stall, told the world of his intentions and the way to make money.  He promised:

  • To increase the fanbase to over 500,000 (apparently Aberdeen had a bigger recorded fan base than EFC!);
  • Introduce a new kit every year to increase revenue;
  • Raise the spend per fan to around the 70 mark;
  • Introduce more corporate facilities; and
  • Attract further, more lucrative sponsorships.
So, has he succeeded in his task?  Is he above, on, or below target?  Looking at the figures, coupling with the fact that David Moyes has had funds available to sign players and offers wages, the majority would have to say that he is above target.

But

Everton are a long way from being back in the black.  They still have a weight on their shoulders in the form of a mortgage deal leveraged against future Goodison season-ticket sales, which they cannot end early without penalty.  They still have bank loans and an overdraft facility, which was incurring an incredible 250k a month in interest.

Had Everton not finished fourth last season, would the situation be any different?  Probably not and fans would still be raging against the Boardroom and attempting to oust Kenwright et al.

However, credit where credit is due: KWs grand plan is surely working after all; he is selling more merchandise.  He has, for the first time in the clubs history, managed to cause an excitement over seats at Goodison and the result was a 5,000-strong waiting list.  He has also introduced more corporate facilities and secured the club's most lucrative sponsorship deal with Chang.  He has also improved the mail order and website facility, increasing the fan-base significantly from the previous year.

KW has recognised that the fans are footballs biggest source of revenue.  As a result, his grand plan has paid them the attention they deserve and cleverly Everton have started to tap into the resource — something which other clubs (Man Utd, Liverpool) have been doing since the Premiership began.  The big chief has also brought to the Board of Directors the unique idea that improvement in the team is an investment for the long term and that the club does not need another short-term fix.

His presence in the media and bringing Everton out of the dark is also strong but this has its negative side.  Showing pictures of money that the club raised for the Tsunami is an excellent publicity stunt (not taking away that it is also for a good and worthy cause), as is announcing sponsorship and TV deals etc as this will only attract further deals and attention.

However, the boardroom is extremely paranoid towards fans and as consequence, it does not wish to be seen as doing nothing.  At the start of last season, when tempers were high, the boardroom was full of promise, talking the talk and giving fans the assurance they needed.  Fortress Sports Fund ring a bell?

Due to their apparent failings, which emulated the presence of a struggling club, the Board very quickly learned to keep quiet and lurk in the darkness of the Chairmans Executive Box, rasping in the glory of a team that masked their problematic running of the business.  They do not want a repeat of the last pre-season adventure and as a consequence have largely used KW as a mouthpiece to announce, rather loudly, any good news that the club has had or is going to have.  This has included the announcements of every player that Everton have been interested in, resulting in the team only capturing three new signings (if Ruddy is included) out of ten or so that they have enquired about.

Everton have missed out on numerous desirable signings in Scott Parker, Emre etc due to KW and the Board getting involved from day one.  They are scared that newfound wealth will run out (which it will if the team is not improved) and have therefore been tight with wages and have labeled all players with demands outside of the pay structure as mercenaries and not right for the club.  Could this attitude be the next failing in a long period of getting-it-wrong?

In the current climate, players are relatively cheap so wage demands are high a club surely has to pay big to scure quality?  Only time will tell as to whether or not missing out on these signings has been goodor not.

In summary, Everton have missed out on a business strategy over the last decade (or so) and the current Board did not have the experience to take the club forward in the same way as KW.  This lack of business acumen and attitude has cost EFC dearly but now it seems that they are on the up.  KW has brought off-the-field stability to the club; a sound, solid business package and a common sense approach what Everton have needed for a good while.

Helped by a season of good fortune and hard work, Everton have turned a corner and hopefully will continue to grow and re-establish the club amongst the biggest in the country and indeed Europe.  Although the journey has only really just started and there are still items that need addressing.  The financial position, which has held Everton back, is now rapidly improving and the club is becoming competitive in what can only be described as the most hostile league in Europe.

The fans have to offer some praise to the Boardroom for the improvements made, even if they are only the appointment KW and DM.

Jamie  Rowland


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©2005 ToffeeWeb

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