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Fans Buy-In?

By John Colfar :  26/06/2008 :  Comments (23) :
I was talking to some kopite mates about what and where they were up to in regards to 'Spirit of Shankly' and 'Share Liverpool'. After a while I mentioned that their optimum time, ie, while Moores was the owner, had long gone. This obviously led to the thought: what about us (EFC fans) talking about the possibility of examining how some of these 'members clubs' operated and would it be a possibility of us ever getting into a position to pay off Blue Bill and have some direct input into the running of EFC.

Now this may sound mad to some people but just bear with me here. If Blue Bill is looking for investment and a return on his outlay, then maybe this could be the answer to both. Let's assume that EFC as a 'going concern' is worth say £50M. BB may have £20M of investment in us (initial outlay), So we would think that BB would 'walk away' with £30M 'profit if he 'sold up' for £50M.

At this moment the actual amounts are not vital to get this idea under debate. What is important is that if there is a chance to get investment and not sell the soul of the club to two cowboys or some Sheiks or whoever else is out there looking to 'invest' and then offload the club when it suits them, then wouldn't we be foolish not to look into it?

Blue Bill and the other Board members may be able to receive whatever their cash input was, and then reinvest their "profit' into EFC. Obviously EFC is worth more now than when BB took over so the complicated bit is how much EFC is worth and how much the Board want. An example ? again the figures are not important at this moment ? would be: BB and the Board take their £20M back out and have an initial input, i.e their 'profit' of £30M as a percentage of the 'new' EFC, and that's where the fans/ members/ investors come into play, with fans' elected representatives taking a place on the new Board along with new Evertonian investors. This way, we are not at the whim of some foreign multi-millionaire.

As said earlier, how these members clubs such as Barcelona are exactly organised, I'm not really 100% sure. What I do know though is that there are plenty of Evertonians out there who like the fact that EFC is not run by some complete bastard(??!!) yet, but realise 'that we need some level of investment. The 'Share Liverpool' is realistically never going to happen now, but would it have been a possibility when David Moores was LFC Chairman, and their value then was £200M compared to a supposed value now of £450M?

'Spirit of Shankly' are talking about things such as away travel, ticket distribution, an open transparency of how their club would be run and its accountability to their members. It really doesn't matter where ideas come from; what matters is can any good ideas be utilised before its too late?

Any fellow Blues with an understanding of how 'Members Clubs'..(no not that kind of Members Clubs Missus !!)..operate and others with a more financial background than me would be happy to add to or rip to pieces this ToffeeWeb submission.

Reader Comments

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Alan Willo
1   Posted 26/06/2008 at 07:47:14

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John, while it would be great to be owned by the fans sadly the demographics of the fan base doesn?t lend itself to major investment. EFC are not a big club any longer in football terms, and that reduces its attraction to some. For us fans obviously in our hearts it is the best football club in the world but in reality we are a parochial team and fan base. We have no generic status and we live in the past. Let?s look at it from an outsiders view, we are in the shadow internationally of the RS, the logo?s the clubs uses slant to the past (If you know your history) or the Peoples club that indicates the fan base is local. The name Everton doesn?t identify itself to a place such as the RS so it?s a substandard brand. I have often questioned why the tickets prices are so low at EFC compared to other clubs and why we offer so many concessions to younger fans. The two lads that sit in front of me have been on junior season tickets for the past 15 years and they are probably about 40! The steward just laughs at them every time they come through the gate! We all laugh but that reduces revenue to the club and I?m sure this is replicated across the ground. What I?m trying to say is, if the fans wont pay more for the season ticket (or even the proper price) then how can we expect them to pay what would be around £2-5000 per person to achieve the magic figure? Don?t forget that will only be the first installment, then we would need a further £ 2-5000 again to rebuild or even move stadium! Great Idea but sadly the EFC fans couldn?t in numbers reach the amounts required. COYB
Jason Lam
2   Posted 26/06/2008 at 08:37:59

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We are not Barcelona. I’m not sure if we want to be modelled after some crappy spanish club either ;-)
Steve Pendleton
3   Posted 26/06/2008 at 09:05:56

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Can you spot me a couple of million John Colfar so I can buy in?? Will fix you up with the cash next time I see you.
Rupert Sullivan
4   Posted 26/06/2008 at 08:59:01

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A club owned by the fans is something that I would quite like to see as well, however Alan makes some very good points - nevertheless, I do not see his issues as an impediment to success. A brand can be rejuvenated, identity is dependent upon visibility,and I do not believe that season tickets represent the bulk of a club’s income in this day and age.

It is my belief that it would be possible to find 100k EFC fans willing to stump up £5k each (or whatever figures you choose).

For me the issue is encouraging BK to let go of the club - recent seasons have led me to conclude that BK will be here for a long, long time. He will hang on desperately trying to do well for this club and so will not be willing to relinquish power - this for me, is the real stumbling block.
EJ Ruane
5   Posted 26/06/2008 at 09:37:46

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Nail on the head Rupert.

I also believe you’re spot-on when you say "A brand can be rejuvenated, identity is dependent upon visibility"

Problem is however, to implement a campaign to rejuvenate a brand, usually involves people with a combination of vision, balls, brains.

Mr Darling (and the man with a medicine-ball for a head) fails on all three and as you say, he’s going nowhere.
Phil Martin
6   Posted 26/06/2008 at 09:50:11

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I disagree that we are a small club who wouldnt be able to attract investment -even from our own fans.
The club needs new life. DM is doing a fine job on the field but until the long term issues of a new stadium and consistently bigger transfer funds (every year not just when we finish 4th) are tackled. The club will not move forward.
This Buy-in would force BK’s hand if nothing else. He stated many times he would sell-up to a wealthier investor (but always denied there was any). Well he couldnt deny the existance of something this!
IF BK refuses to sell then we know the kind of guy he is and that there probably was potential investors in the past.
IF he sells up then we get what we want.
New investment would help this club a lot and money attracts money.
Steve Collins
7   Posted 26/06/2008 at 10:40:32

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It’s a great idea but would you find enough people willing to stump up the cash?

That and long term how would we maintain profit. I mean once you buyout the current owners you would need to find more investment. Then you might have to pay debts etc...

Unfortunately as good as it sounds i think these days the only way to get alot of investment is to find a heartless shiek or russian. I’m sure fans of Chelsea and Portsmouth put alot of thought and had the same concerns we do but in hindsight i’d say they were happy to allow it to move the club forward.

Everton are still a big club. The problem i see why we don’t get major investment and why we seem to struggle is because as it pains me to say Liverpool are more popular worldwide. They seem to market their brand better also.

I read an interesting financial piece about a year for the life of me can’t remember who wrote it but the guy mentioned that its difficult for investors to see past Liverpool FC when they think of Liverpool as a whole.
Plus Liverpool as a city is not as lucrative as say London and certainly not as big. He reckoned that Everton would find it difficult to convince the potential investors to see past Liverpool FC.

Philip McAvoy
8   Posted 26/06/2008 at 11:32:50

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Would it have to be total owership?
If we could buy out say 30% - 40% of the club a supporters trust could have several seats on the board and a real influence over the decisions making the club.
On that basis we would need much less capital but still have a considerable influence on the scheme. It could be expanded on as time went on.
Marc Williams
9   Posted 26/06/2008 at 11:25:51

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Jason Lam, Why would you think Barcelona are a ’crappy’ club & not want to be run like them.

I’ve been to this city many times & have spent many happy hours talking with their fans in coffee bars in boulevards & squares well away fom the touristy areas.
I’ve also been around their fantastic stadium, though not to a match. Many were aware of Everton & they showed me & our club respect.


Democratically elected officials & a great degree of financial tranparency, ethical sponsorship & 1st class marketing, average ticket prices of about £7, and oh yes & some of the best most attractive football players in the world. I don’t think they watch much ’hoofball’ !
They are very much a ’peoples club’ .

JOHN COLFAR raises some good points but unfortunatly it’ll not happen in my lifetime ( but never say never ) as we are too small & I really fear for us in Kirkby.

Barcelona can do it because they represent a region ( Catalonia ) that is increasingly wealthy and there is political muscle behind them . The Catalans see themselves as distinct from Spain ( they were leftist in tne Civil war & Madrid was seen as Fascist ) & the power & wealth of the club comes from this independent regional powerbase.

Thats how they can do it & many others can’t but I’d love our clud to be run along their lines.

Lets face it, as the RS start preliminary work in Stanley Park, Liverpool City council don’t even want us in the city.
I find this both heartbreaking & shameful.
Marc Williams
10   Posted 26/06/2008 at 11:57:14

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When I said above that we are ?too small?, I mean economically in comparison to a club representing a region, I obviously don?t feel that we are a small club. So please don?t start jumping on my head.

I know this is a bit off thread but is anyone else on here worried / a little bit embarrased ( I?m keeping well clear of RS fans today ) that Wigan can supposedly tempt our big name players with much bigger wages than us. I mean fucking hell, no wonder we won?t be signing the likes of Arshavin any time soon eh!

Jay Campbell
11   Posted 26/06/2008 at 12:49:53

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Silverware changes everything regarding your club’s profile as well.

Without money you chances of Silverware become less likely. Where does the money come from?? It’s not rocket science the board are our handicap end of story.

Steve Nikolovski
12   Posted 26/06/2008 at 12:57:23

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Suppose we do buy the club, lets say in the next 5 seasons.... what happens when we want an Arshavin or Fernandez or etc etc...... do we each search for a spare £5000 every transfer period?
Who is going to pay off loans / debts?
Let's firstly sell AJ, Arteta, Cahill, Lescott, Yakubu and we will be able to pay player salaries.
Forget it (but would love to have the money to do it)!
Kev Wainwright
13   Posted 26/06/2008 at 12:54:47

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Sorry to burst some ideas on here but companies are subject to laws. The most basic one being he who owns most of the company calls the shots. So if if the "fans" owned 30 to 40% of the shares and let's say Kenwright and his chum owned the rest then when voting happended there would be a lot of fans very upset as they get out-voted everytime.

The influence would be zero. Just take a look at the shareholders meeting we have now, shareholders turn up and ask questions; the Board answer, control the meeting, and ignore them. This is not just Everton it is every board in the country.

The other model is a members club like Lancs cricket, whereby the members vote for a committee who control the company. We got quite near that with the ground move vote, and look at the upset of those who lost. Ask members of Lancs some are as pissed off as some Everton fans, so don?t think that fans owning the club means that it just all goes the way of you and your mates. Even worse would be those who can?t vote because they cannot afford the capital outlay..

The thought of some of the racists who increasingly attend our away games having a say in my club and deciding where my investment should be spent is just too horrible to think of.

Finally, perhaps someone can explain why wouldn?t some businessman just buy lots of shares by proxies and just take over on the cheap, after changing the consitiution at a meeting attended by him and his friends?

Leon Bronstein
14   Posted 26/06/2008 at 13:03:43

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Alan Willo wrote:
"The name Everton doesn?t identify itself to a place such as the RS so it?s a substandard brand."

What absolute nonsense. Is the Juventus brand below that of Torino? Is the Aston Villa brand substandard compared to the Birmingham City brand?
Alan Willo
15   Posted 26/06/2008 at 13:15:33

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Leon, could you explain who are the most successful and largest teams in those City?s? I think the answer is obvious, we play second fiddle to RS, I hate the fact we do but I?m afraid that?s reality. We are marketing ourselves against a superior brand in the same location with limited resources, its no surprise we struggle to get investment. Jay is correct this can only change by silver wear or a billionaire taking over but again that only puts us on the level playing field with about 4/5 other teams. I and thousands of other support EFC because my father did, and his father before him. COYB
John Pendleton
16   Posted 26/06/2008 at 17:09:50

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Equal power in the hands of the many might sound like a good idea but real change is driven by the omnipotent few.

We need a leadership, focus, vision, unity and drive. We can’t get that from a board of less than ten currently so what hope would we have diluting power equally amongst a passionate 40,000?

I would love to have a say how some aspects of our club are run. But for the same price, so could a fellow fan with a directly opposing view. And how much influence can fans afford? It would take 40,000 fans to stump up £1,000 every year just to match Sky’s influence.

Imagine a fans-owned Everton. Every major decision split threeways between the ’yes’, ’no’ and ’don’t know’ camps. The extra frustration of paying personally for a long-term injured player whilst your mortgage goes through the roof or decking your kids out in a kit design you didn’t vote for.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a democrat and support people power in politics, but in the search for success we need more balls in boardroom where the power of the few really counts.

Andy Crooks
17   Posted 26/06/2008 at 20:51:56

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Talk of a fans buy-in is,unfortunately ,just plain desperate madness.
john colfar
18   Posted 26/06/2008 at 22:53:55

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Steve Pendleton- the cash is on the way !!! Steve Nikolovski- the transfer funds would come in a similar manner to how they are currently obtained, i.e through Sky money, Premier League position payments, through hopefully continuous european campaigns and however else the vast majority of clubs raise transfer funds. Steve, do you think that Bill Kenwright personally pays the transfer fees himself ?!! Phillip, what i was suggesting was the fan input could be whatever percentage that was agreed/acceptable to the majority. The current board could take what they have invested at the old EFC valuation level and could re-invest their ’free profit’ into the new and obviously higher valued EFC. Jason Lam, i’d love EFC to be compared, indeed playing against some crappy Spanish Club in the C.L every year ! Maybe this idea is a thing that could be looked at by sharper people than me, but lets not think like EFC board with "no plan B"!!!
Bill Goodall
19   Posted 27/06/2008 at 00:13:16

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I know I will be laughed at but how about the fans stump up the cash, not to invest and gain ownership of the club but to lend it to the club. Set up a trust where the money goes and is managed by an independant trustee. The club borrows the money from the trust at a rate that charges only the management costs as interest. This makes it a more attractive option than the banks. It could also be set up that repayments are kept low so to allow the club to invest money rather than pay the debt. Each person who invests in the trust would then have to give a mandatory time frame if they wanted to withdraw their funds from the trust to allow the club time to outlay that money on top of the normal payments. I know it is far fetched but I can dream
Graham Atherton
20   Posted 27/06/2008 at 09:47:27

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This is either buying an interest in the club or giving an interest free loan to the club.
You can currently buy a share of the club for around £2000 or less so why pay £5k? In share issue terms you are doing the most disatrous thing possible - overvaluing the club.

Loan the club £5000 for no return, and then another £5000 when times get hard? I can’t afford to do that and neither could the vast majority of Evertonians.

The only way we keep the stadium full is by charging low prices and the reason given for that it Liverpool is a low income area. It is also often stated that the majority of Everton support lives in or immediately around the city. So we have a majority of low income supporters expected to find £2-5000 to put into your footy club for no return? The vast majority would have to borrow the money on 5-10% interest.

Families have to come first in these times of tightening money supply: shall we have a new kitchen/bathroom/car/conservatory or give Everton £5000?’ Hmmmm
Dawson Boyle
21   Posted 27/06/2008 at 13:45:36

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Leave the nay-sayers and the doom mongers to their speculation.

The only way such a scheme could work is if we stop thinking about the cannots and start putting forward concrete ideas.

I wrote a similar article recently and contributors like Alan Wilo seemed more concerned at not getting a return for their investment than the thought of our club falling into the hands of a megarich profiteer.

I can’t afford £5k, but I would get it somehow and I wouldn’t care if I never see it again.

I think other people will think the same. I understand all those who can’t afford to make an investment and even those who don’t wish to. Throwing away money doesn’t make you any more or less a fan.

But don’t try to steamroller this prospect with negativity. Your speculations are detrimental to the idea. Lets see if we can get 50 people on this thread who would commit. It’s a start.

I’m IN!

Rupert Sullivan
22   Posted 27/06/2008 at 14:31:51

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As for a businessman not buying up all the shares - it is simple enough to set up a situation which prevents ownership of more than 1 share and enforces sales to go through the company set up to run the club. My understanding of what Barca and Real Madrid do is that you cannot simply ?sell? your share to anyone who wants it. Red Tape maybe, but I am led to believe that it is effective.
Gavin Ramejkis
23   Posted 27/06/2008 at 19:19:20

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One major stumbling block which would knock this all on the head is the complete non starter of any significant numbers of shares being for sale and the quoted "structure" of the company making buy ins and buy outs nigh on impossible. I’ve a strong feeling even given a large wad of pictures of her majesty BK would still want on the board and no one in the right mind would hand over cash and have that fool still there.

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