People are fond of saying ?You do better, or find someone who would do better? as if Everton?s problems are beyond our knowledge, expertise and range of skills than many do have or that those the board and management of the club have surpass all others. They don?t.
We are now dealing with financial constraints that limit the business strategy. So, time to look outside the box for solutions and new strategies.
Let's look at the current set of issues that the club has and view it differently for a moment. What would happen if the board adopted an inclusion strategy with its fans rather than the current derisory approach? What could be different?
1. Working with a skilled set of supporters who have their own networks can mean savings in costs and improvements in services. Better, cheaper options, supporters give their time freely, consultants don?t.
2. It can bring solutions to the table that can be discussed and reasoned out from ground relocation / redevelopment to fundraising: Tom Hughes... Tony l?Anson...
3. It can be inclusive of the supporters through discussion on key areas such as merchandising, marketing, ground development, supporters contributions.
4. It will show a united approach to the development of Everton FC; solid, focused and committed the board seeing value in what the supporters can offer.
5. It could develop a strategic plan that needed supporters to find solutions too. You might not know someone with a great deal of money, or interest in the Premier League but other supporters might; Keith Harris and a 24/7 approach is only as good as where you look. To find gold you have to move an awful lot of dirt.
6. Being part of a solution rather than waiting for an answer is key to our survival, the club needs to utilise the fans and their skills and ideas as a resource and not just as an ATM. It makes sense. It's radical.
The fans as a resource?
Let's conservatively say there are a million Everton fans around the world, a million people of diverse cultures, ideas, backgrounds and experiences. Let's say for argument's sake, 0.1 % have the knowledge, business acumen, the skills and constructive ideas to assist Everton FC plan its future in a far better way than is has and continues to do so.
So what?s needed at the club to make this happen?
1. Courage and humility on both sides. Courage to bring in and work with those they cannot relate too, Humility to understand on both sides that what they hear may be right. Irrespective of who says it.
2. A willingness to harness the fantastic resource that the shareholders and supporters are, all over the world. If they understand the need they will give their time, expertise and money to help the club.
3. A framework that is solution-orientated and not ongoing awareness in the community based. There are club forums, chats, meetings and community interaction that doesn?t help the obstructed views, the lack of facilities and we need solutions to fix today?s problems and prevent it happening again.
4. The club needs help. We are a hand offering help. We have no ulterior motive other than to make Everton a strong and successful club. Who has the courage to work with the supporters and small shareholders rather than isolate and ignore them?
5. From a fans' perspective, there needs to be a semi-formalised body such as the Everton Trust who can mobilise support and initiatives and act as a channel for assisting supporters in helping out club.
6. There needs to be a commitment that the club has to make towards acknowledging this in a formalised manner, as having a board or management member responsible to the supporters.
7. The club has to realise that it is missing a huge opportunity to align all supporters and club strategies with a huge resource base if it chooses to ignore the offers. Not only that, it is missing the chance of survival at the highest level and the possibility of attaining a top place setting.
8. The People's Club was a brilliant rally call that was quickly spun into a marketing opportunity. It should and could have been more, a chance for the fans to help, to understand, to forge a new way forward.
1. We share the problem and own the solution, whatever it is. One Everton.
2. We safeguard the future for the team, the shareholders and the ground.
3. We are seen as part of the solution and not part of the problem.
4. Better the worry of having 10,000 solutions than none.
5. Financial / attractive / opportunity for investment and share value
We want a new way forward, the club needs a better strategy and needs to communicate it, what better way than to ask?
Courage and Humility for a better Everton FC.
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1 Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:14:55
However, personally I'm too cynical to believe that this current board will do ANYTHING that smells of sharing power.
I'm not sure what their current agenda is BUT Everton fans they are not. Business men they are not. they are probably drawing a stack load of money from the 'operating costs' (that are not actually itemised) and therefore are happy enough with the situation as their pockets get filled.
They are clearly NOT proactive about finding investment, workign with fans or doing ANYTHING positive for Everton football club. The custodians of our great club are clueless and don't care.
As long as we avoid relegation year after year they are in the money and it's as simple as that.
Sorry to be negative but it's clearly and plainly the truth.
2 Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:23:24
Kenwright is in this for himself. I don't think it's a case of him holding on to his train set, it's more a case of him trying to make a shit load of personal wealth. Does anyone really believe that if a billionaire did come in for the club, offered Kenwright the same money he paid for it but offered to wipe out the debts, Kenwright would sell? I don't. I think Kenwright wants to make as much money as possible. This is the problem with involving the fans or having a supporters trust. Kenwright does not want any of us to be party to any of his dealings or plans to make money out of Everton. He also doesn't want to dilute his shares because he'll make less money.
The only thing that will get rid of Kenwright is administration because he will be forced to sell. I really believe that is now the only way for us to have a blank canvas to start over.
3 Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:31:31
Courage, humility and trust are key words. I like this idea a most positive step in the right direction, lots of issues, figuring out the right folks, how, where, how often etc, but highly do-able.
4 Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:51:05
I've often wondered how much we could reduce the cost of improving Goodison or even building a new stadium if we gave the opportunity to Evertonians who are in the construction game.
I can lay blocks!!
5 Posted 14/02/2011 at 09:45:58
Actually, the Irish President (and/or her aides) sort of had this idea.
In Ireland, with the economy even more goosed than ours, they offered a prize of ?100,000 (I think) for the best idea/s to help the economy.
Of course it's not a strategy that guarantees results (or anything else), but it DOES massively increase your chances of finding answers to problems.
So, it's simply a matter of BK/Elstone etc, being big/confident enough to say 'We don't have all the answers, so we're asking for your input"
Which..um...is why it'll never happen.
6 Posted 14/02/2011 at 10:09:22
I am now Bill-Baiter, but the fact is that EFC is a business owned by him and two others. They will not relinquish control which is how they would see your suggestions. heavens, even Robert the CEO is a puppet for Bill who dictates his every move.
Sadly, the solution is to sell to a consortium, group of person who will run the business as a business: with investment, evidence-backed decison-making and a break-even/profit target for current account and a dwindling/eradicated debt enabling greater capital value.
Put simply, sell Bill, and move away.
7 Posted 14/02/2011 at 10:22:03
There are thousands of Evertonians who would love to contribute in some way, big or small, but have no vehicle to do so. Its not all about the money, its about the shared vision and how we can do it.
The club are a business and what better way for any business to get out of difficulty than with its own willing supporters?
As I said, courage and humility. From the club, Courage to ask for assistance and humility to accept it.
From the fans, courage to question our own opinions and humility when we need to change them.
Whoever finally owns this club will need both, and financial support to do it. Right now we must find a way forward or sink. None of us want that. No one in the club, no supporter.
For the greater good may well be getting Kenwright out of the crap and making Everton an attractive proposition. That's hard to swallow, but its not for him we follow, its for our team and its future.
It's for our children's children, so they know we did not just stand by.
8 Posted 14/02/2011 at 10:30:08
(I used to be a Quantity Surveyor but I'm alright now)
9 Posted 14/02/2011 at 10:43:49
An insightful article. I think many Evertonians are coming around to a similar way of thinking.
My name seems to be popping up on every other TW article, although there are a number of passionate Evertonians who are working hard to get Trust Everton off the ground. We never gave a progress update last week due to the accounts coming out, but we should have one out this week. Everyone please be assured that Trust Everton has progressed a fair bit since the first article appeared on here.
10 Posted 14/02/2011 at 10:47:10
I wish Trust Everton every success and feel they can play an important part/role in the solution to Everton's current woes on and off the pitch.
Perhaps it's now time for BK et al to ask the question whether they are also part of the solution.
11 Posted 14/02/2011 at 11:04:06
I think the Club would need to be sold first because I have no faith that the current Board and it's backers would be prepared to see their power diluted.
I really hope your vision can be brought into reality, it would truely then be the People's Club.
12 Posted 14/02/2011 at 11:29:26
Well done, Christine.
13 Posted 14/02/2011 at 12:50:02
A decent article.... I don't want to be pessimistic or negative, but I feel The Chairman and The Board of Directors are looking for investment from the business community. They haven't got the imagination to seek 1 of 10,000 solutions from the fan base; or the willingness to relinquish any power from within Everton Football Club.
I believe the players and manager are beginning to show disinterest. This in itself should get the Chairman and Directors to seek remedial action, but I won't be watching this space...
They will see parachute payments and the selling of our top players as a solution, before listening to fans forums or seeking help from that resource.
14 Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:20:47
A Gray ............... just kidding
15 Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:14:02
One of EFC faults is a lack of and poor decision making adding more to that process just makes it more complicated. Simple matter is we need more revenue to invest more both on and off the field; the gap is around £70 million per year to match Arsenal and £20 million Liverpool that?s before we get to sponsorship revenue. The gap is far too big in the current climate and EFC are a casualty of modern football and the only medicine is £300 plus million cash injection.
If it was a level playing field then Christine's points would be of interest... as they aren?t then it's just a soppy dream. COYB
16 Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:23:00
The board and BK want investment, not a buyer, and will not relinquish any control or dilute any of their shares in the club. A ridiculous offering from the people who are in charge of the club's future. Then again, after years of mismanagement would you honestly lend this lot any money? No, neither would I.
17 Posted 14/02/2011 at 13:33:23
The problem - as with all things EFC - is that those at the top couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery. Jut look at our awful marketing etc.
If the fans take ownership, who leads? We have a divided fan base. Just look at the ground issue and the varying viewpoints to TW MailBag etc.
On a positive note, if there was a credible fan's trust initiative and I know there are embyonic moves towards this mentioned on here, I'd support it with hard cash.
Maybe we should also apply this policy to our players and buy Evertonians only - at least they'd display more passion than that shower yesterday.
18 Posted 14/02/2011 at 14:08:20
The club of course and its officers are free to ignore such offers of help and support, but in doing so they set in place their own demise with their own supporters.
This would be a true opportunity to heal our supporters rifts and get behind the club in finding solutions.
I acknowledge too, that to some this may be seen to support or prop up Kenwright. But Everton Football club is bigger than Bill Kenwright. I support the survival of my club.
19 Posted 14/02/2011 at 14:23:50
Each one is a mutual society regulated by the FSA and are run by a Board voted in by their members.
Newcastle United have a supporters trust with over 30,000 members. See www.nust.org.uk
That's just the tip of the iceberg.
20 Posted 14/02/2011 at 14:25:53
My only thought is that the weakest link is our existing board who have shown a lack of resourcefulness and a particular obstinacy towards supporters and their views.
21 Posted 14/02/2011 at 14:46:24
Ever since Everton has been allegedly up for sale, the only word coming from our chairman and CEO is, 'investors', even on Radio Merseyside at the weekend, Robert Elstone kept on saying, "We are looking 24/7 for the right investor" ? not once have i heard the word 'buyer'.
Can anyone out there clarify this for me?
22 Posted 14/02/2011 at 15:02:44
The new building in the Park End End car park is a decent short-term solution but why not look into the costings of a Park End second tier? Complete with row of posh boxes? That will increase the capacity + revenue. We can then wait a few more year's before we work on say the Bullens.
But given we have a bigger Park End we won't suffer from a severely reduced capacity during that building work. A sympathetic renovation of Goodison over 10 years would be preferable to a move to a flat pack soulless bowl that everyone else seems to be doing at the moment.
23 Posted 14/02/2011 at 16:36:23
Ged (#6): I have to disagree with you. Bill Kenwright and 'two others' do not own the club. It is the paying customers who own the club. I don't care if you have full control in your business, but if your customers walk away you won't even have a business left.
Business has evolved from the pyramid approach (CEO at the pinnacle, management in the middle, employers in the lower tier, and customers in the baseline) to one that inverts the aforementioned pyramid. Shameless he may be, I don't think even Kenwright and 'two others' will be able to ignore the continual sights of half-empty (or empty) stadiums and the media furore that will inevitably follow.
It is time for all Evertonians to act and show that fat useless lump ? and I don't mean Anichebe here ? that the days of taking Evertonians for granted and treating them with contempt are over.
24 Posted 14/02/2011 at 17:03:01
25 Posted 14/02/2011 at 17:55:37
Good article in today Times, back page on the supplement about EFC. COYB
26 Posted 14/02/2011 at 18:18:45
Colin #21, to clarify: as I understand it, "investment" merely means people giving money to current owners to help them run the club. "Buying" would mean new owners.
27 Posted 14/02/2011 at 18:30:43
Great article, Christine. However, it will very difficult to implement. I'm finding out how painstaking it is to transpose theory into practice in my my current job; and I just don't envision any change without a LOT of hard work, precise organisation and patience.
28 Posted 14/02/2011 at 19:02:32
And I couldn't blame them.
29 Posted 14/02/2011 at 19:10:44
However at the back of mind is always the fact that 'Blue Bill' will always want a return on his 'investment' i.e. he'll have to pay Uncle Phil his loans back. How can we achieve that with your model?
If you look at Everton's finances the bottom line is that we pay too much in wages. We should never have signed Heitinga - he must be on 50k plus and the deal for Arteta is so far out of our league it's untrue. Something's got to give.
30 Posted 14/02/2011 at 19:13:49
This come from the top, summed up with Mr "I'm bored with your question now" Kenwright. How anyone can defend that comment, directed to a supporter and shareholder who cares for the club, I have no idea. He is an embarrassment to the club and must go now.
I hope we all support Tony and Mike in their efforts for the supporters trust in whatever way we can.
31 Posted 14/02/2011 at 21:06:51
For example, lets say the club asked the supporters for solutions to developing Goodison Park, even ran a competition for the best one, you end up with enthusiastic group of supporters who have an opportunity to make a difference.
The point is that its inclusive and forging better bonds in what is our club. For all the idealistic entries there would be a few that would raise eyebrows or create interest.
Even if it only generated interest and all the designs fatally flawed, the ideas may not be.
Its NOT Big Society, no other club will benefit, no other set of supporters will be involved. This is about bringing the supporters into the club and actively using their skills, networks and ideas they have in the best way they can.
For too long we have heard people critisize others on this site and others for being bitter blues and unconstructive or negative. The alternative is do nothing and pray for a millionaire.
What I have laid out is an idea and a view to what could be done if the club wanted it. Its an acorn, thats all, a seed that could grow.
Thats why a vehicle is needed to generate the interest, to propose solutions, to ensure we have a future thats not dependent on the ideas of one man or several. To harness our love and passion for the club.
32 Posted 14/02/2011 at 21:30:19
33 Posted 15/02/2011 at 00:09:26
My humble opinion is that Trust Everton is a great idea because it could provide fans with a direct stake in the club, and so a solid platform for engagement, perhaps akin to a fan share issue?
Regards the idea of a network of skilled fans being directly involved in commercial activities, I am not convinced that this is achievable within a commercial entity as large as EFC.
Is there a precedent for this outside of the amateur Sunday leagues?
Can you provide examples of how this cooperative might actually save Everton money, given the potential time and cost required to organise it?
Moreover, it seems the consensus on this site that the club's main failing is not operating costs but rather exploitation of the football market. Seeing as nobody in these discussions seems able to define this entity or quantify it, I find it almost impossible to relate it to your proposal.
At the risk of being attacked once more, our CEO is highly experienced in sports finance, and he and his colleagues are working day-in and day-out to increase the profit margin. As you know, football is notoriously difficult to profit from. Just ask Alan Sugar.
An arrangement of the kind you propose may make you feel better about the club, but I fear that a slightly loopy investor who can clear our debts is the only real answer to the financial stagnation. If any fans knew such a person, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
34 Posted 15/02/2011 at 02:03:46
35 Posted 15/02/2011 at 06:33:08
That trust has to be gained over time.
1. "Regards the idea of a network of skilled fans being directly involved in commercial activities, I am not convinced that this is achievable within a commercial entity as large as EFC."
Any board of Directors or CEO has a set of both operational and strategic objectives, in reality this is best determined as what needs fixing and what future needs do we have. If a representative of the fan base was involved at a board level then selected opportunities for support could be identified.
For argument's sake lets call the fans representative base The Everton Network ? a group of perhaps 3 or 4 people who have good networks across the board for operational revenue generation, corporate box selling, cost cutting with improved services, etc, all from an Everton Network website and personal vetting.
Increased Matchday revenue. Increases entry prices are a fact of life these days, but who wouldn't pay more to help the club for a particular project? In the process, give the opportunity to invole rather than just hit the pocket.
Let's say a compulsory Matchday seat number raffle included in your increased ticket price (I said seat not meat) as a means to contribute towards a higher ticket price with a matchday prize of £5,000... (38,000 x £2 price increase = £76k) with a half time presentation of the prize. Basic ideas.
From a strategic perspective, the board could look for suggestions or alternative solutions without having to put to tender as such but attempt to use the professional networks to assist
Sorry, Tony, I know how to do it but these are a few basic examples of what could be done. I am sure there are plenty more but this is a forum response and not a presentation.
It's important to understand it's not a volunteer network, it's a resource of expertise at the club's disposal.
36 Posted 15/02/2011 at 06:59:59
The problem is not what or who can be found to help, or even how it's organised and managed. It's if and how the club see the benefit and want to engage.
The simple ideas are the best but always hardest to convince others of.
37 Posted 15/02/2011 at 07:26:28
There was a great deal in what you said Christine and really to do it justice I would have to read it through a couple of times. I like the general concept of involving fans more in the decision making making process at Everton. Many of us can point to many years of support of Everton and no doubt we have seen chairmen, directors, managers, players come and go. Everton FC plays an important part in our lives, we care about Everton so why shouldn't we have more say?
In other countries, that is the case. I know that Spain may not be a good example ? I believe many of the clubs have elected boards and presidents. A good idea, but with some clubs there is almost "political" infighting. However, in Germany there does seem to be a closer relationship between the Club and its supporters.
Schalke 04 had a new stadium built for the World Cup in 2006. The supporters were directly consulted as to the design of the stadium. The ticket policy is also a lot fairer. Schalke are situated in an industrial area which has seen much decline as are Borussia Dortmund. Both these clubs take that into account with their ticket prices. It is little wonder that the Bundesliga attracts the biggest attendances of all the European Leagues, when they seem to treat the supporters with respect and directly involve them in their clubs.
It is only one example ? but I am surely not the only Evertonian who, when I read about the problems in redeveloping Goodison Park is appalled at the missed opportunity of the Park End Stand? The amount of "wasted space" behind the structure. There was enough scope to have constructed a two-tier stand similar to Aston Villa's Holte End. I wasn't happy with the decision in 1994 and I am still of the same opinion. But what if the supporters had been consulted/been involved ? things might have been different.
38 Posted 15/02/2011 at 09:35:47
If a system along the lines you propose were implemented I would be delighted, as long as it had some impact on profitability. I would rather see a salary cap implemented first though.
I still think the question I asked about the existence of a precedent is highly relevant and should be answered regardless of the forum.
All the best.
39 Posted 15/02/2011 at 10:10:55
Although what I propose goes slightly further than what Arsenal currently have, its thrust is similar and the club works with the trust to achieve common aims. I believe it is generally inline with what the proposed Everton Trust
I urge all to read.
40 Posted 15/02/2011 at 10:48:31
However, I do think there is a way out of this for the benefit of our kids and Grandkids, but we probably wont see the fruits of it any time soon. I believe the only realistic fans way out of this mess created by Carter, Johnson and Kenwright is for Everton to go into administration and then be brought out by a consortium involving Trust Everton, allowing the fans to have a say in the future running of the club through elected representatives.
I will be putting my money where my mouth is and investing in Trust Everton, if we managed to raise a substantial sum then we would be in a powerful position to gain some control of our beloved club.
I'm going to go all cliche here, but sometimes you need to be cruel to be kind and look at the bigger picture. We the fans have to make a stand for the future of our club by taking a leaf out of the Egyptians book and taking direct action. By simply not attending games and/or by not renewing season tickets the fans would expedite our seemingly inevitable move into administration. If this can be done to our timetable, once we have sufficient funds in the Everton Trust, then we can bring this particular dictatorship to it's knees and take our club back.
41 Posted 15/02/2011 at 11:03:28
Pragmatism, Apathy, Realism, Cynicism, all have basis in our history but without the will to change, why try?
This club is worth fighting for. Our vision may not be the same as the clubs because we don't have one.
A million years? I think it will take 5 years for a fully interactive relationship to happen, with or without the current owners. But we can't wait and watch in the meantime.
42 Posted 15/02/2011 at 12:28:58
I believe it was the great Jock Stein who once said " Football without fans is nothing" - sooner or later football clubs have got to wake up to the concept of directly involving their supporters. I tend to agree with Christine when she refers to a 5 year time scale rather than a million years!!!
As an alternative to the current status quo this certainly looks like the way forward for Everton. If you care about Everton then as Christine suggests it is worth fighting for.
43 Posted 15/02/2011 at 14:32:03
?Clubs like Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Newcastle have got owners but the real owners of any football club are the supporters ? and this lot, the Green Army, are a prime example. They are brilliant. We?ve had a difficult season, on and off the pitch, but they have been the lifeblood of Plymouth Argyle. The supporters? trust had a meeting before our game at the weekend and they were queuing out of the doors at the Lower Guildhall. That doesn?t just tell me how much the club means to people in the city and the surrounding area ? it proves I was right to take this job. With that kind of support, we?ll get through these difficult times. You can?t beat fan power."
44 Posted 15/02/2011 at 20:44:49
45 Posted 16/02/2011 at 00:12:43
46 Posted 16/02/2011 at 03:35:45
2. A shared Everton Vision
3. Best use of all available resources
4. The future involvement of the fans in the club.
Alas, as I have said, it needs willing parties, organisation and other places to look for solutions.
It could be done even now, it could be done. As I said, it takes courage and humility.
It should not be consigned to the "too hard basket" or "just another utopian idea."
Everton Trust may be the vehicle to do so but it would need to get the trust and co-operation with the club in a proactive manner.
47 Posted 19/02/2011 at 06:01:07
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