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Everton FC ? Love and Despair,
Part 2: The Club's Organisation

By Mike Fields :  22/02/2011 :  Comments (20) :
For many years now, I have been exasperated by our club?s organisation. Much of this is related to the nature of our once great, but now worn-out ground. We have long needed a replacement and many individuals and groups can be blamed for the fact that this has not yet materialised. We are told that the lack of a modern ground has deterred potential buyers ? whether true or not, we do need to consider for the future what action should be taken.

My own view is that the King?s Dock site would have been ideal. I know I will be shouted down by many, but even Kirkby had much in its favour. I sympathise with those wishing to ?Keep Everton in Our City?, but I have worked in Kirkby and almost all who live there are scousers. Kirkby is sentimentally, if not officially, part of Liverpool.

We need a solution. Present and past members of the Board of Directors are not/ have not been financially equipped to build a new ground. Nor, it seems, have they had the negotiating skills to work adequately with those who could have put forward the required resources. We have also been let down by the City Council, and opposed ? for their own reasons ? by other councils such as Knowsley, as well as by Government.

I don?t believe our great club can best be served by rebuilding or refurbishing a landlocked Goodison Park. We are told that the club is looking at sites in the City ? apparently now supported by the Council ? and I will be happy to be persuaded if a suitable option can be found. My current view though is that the best solution, disliked by many (and I have my own misgivings), is to build a shared ground with Liverpool FC at Stanley Park. Planning permission has already been given for this, and the system has worked successfully elsewhere.

For many years, the San Siro stadium has been a great home to AC Milan and Internazionale. The development of the Allianz Arena at Munich has been visionary, with clever lighting making the ground home for Bayern, 1860 or the German national side as appropriate. The translucent ?skin? is lit red for Bayern, blue for 1860 and white for Germany. The issue is funding, and I will address this in Part 4.

We now live in the Midlands, moving for work reasons, and so have to brave the M6 with its frequent hold-ups for every home game. On Boxing Day, half-way to the Birmingham game at about 11:00 am, we heard on the radio that the match had been postponed as a result of frozen pipes. No hint of a problem had been given in advance, and it appears that David Moyes was not informed until about 10:30 am. This is totally unacceptable, but it is something I have come to view as typical.

The match-day experience of my wife and I involves arriving very early to ensure nearby parking, necessary now that I walk with the aid of a stick. We have an (expensive) cup of tea on arrival, but do not take advantage of the other items on offer by the catering service. The menu is extremely poor. I know people eat, for example, the jumbo hot dogs or sausage rolls, but I can?t imagine what constitutes the pink, spongy ?meat?.

I recognise that the space available for the woefully inadequate toilet facilities cannot match modern standards, but some refurbishment should surely be possible. Paper towels are hard to retrieve from dispensers which have been in place for many years. The apertures are rusty and, as they inevitably become wet, it is almost inevitable that they are touched, with the consequent transfer of bacteria.

With our cups of tea, we watch (standing) one of the TVs now available. Unfortunately, for the last few games the TV near our stairway (as I understand applies to others) has been out of action. Why should it take more than the time between two games to repair TVs?

After our tea, we go to our seats, usually watching the players warming up and working out who is in the team and who are the substitutes. As people arrive, we chat to our neighbours. Until the PA system comes on. This is so loud that it is very hard to hear what one?s neighbour is saying, and we often give up attempts at conversation. Particularly embarrassing is the shouted team news, ?And now let?s give it up for those mighty blues of Everton...?

When David Moyes was appointed, he genuinely described Everton as ?The People?s Club?. Fans appreciated this description, but unfortunately the club then hammered the expression to death as a marketing ploy. The large banner at the Park End could have been used for a limited period, but for many years it seems that the term has been used on virtually everything sold or issued.

We are told that we have an award-winning website; well it seems very rudimentary to me. Perhaps this reflects my own technical shortcomings, but I often find it difficult to call up information I require. Certainly the website is slow to report up-to-date news ? often available elsewhere. I first subscribed to Everton TV last year and this provides a very limited service. What I have found most annoying recently is the instant noise of an advertisement as soon as I log on to the website. I have to remember to switch off the sound, switching on again to hear interviews. A simple thing, but this is deterring me from making use of the facility.

Ordering tickets and season tickets can also be frustrating. A couple of years ago, I and others had problems re-ordering season tickets as the row of digits on the customer number included ?I? which turned out to be a capital letter rather than a digit. For the recent Chelsea cup tie, we were to be displaced, although no-one expected Chelsea to take up the extra tickets (and so it proved). Therefore, I had to purchase two tickets elsewhere in the ground. The Upper Bullens Stand was seemingly almost full, so I had to buy seats using the online diagram. I was not allowed to buy two seats at once, and so had to log in twice using the different customer numbers. Thus I had to hope that, between the two transactions, no-one else purchased the seat next to me which I wanted for my wife. Surely Everton can make their system more user-friendly!

It seems that most of the club?s spending is dedicated to players? wages and obviously this is a necessity, much though we may be unhappy in general terms about levels of pay beyond those of many top bankers. However, the club needs to find ways of funding improvements in the experiences of its supporters. We gather that most of the club?s income derives from TV contracts and ticket sales, smaller amounts coming from the sale of merchandise and, occasionally, players. We can tolerate (and sometimes welcome) the sale of certain players, if the funds realised are used to purchase new players.

While I accept that support for our club nationally is not at the level of the likes of Chelsea and Man Utd, I find, living in the Midlands, that I come across many Blues fans ? similar in number to those of several of the ?top? teams. Yet I do not see Everton tops and other merchandise in shops. Why are we not competing?

In global terms, we need to play to our strengths ? incidentally, this applies on the pitch, as well as in relation to marketing! In Tim Cahill, we have an Australian superstar. What about Tim Howard (and earlier, Landon Donovan) in the States? While he played for us, and especially at the time of the World Cup, did we use Steven Pienaar for marketing in South Africa? Marouane Fellaini in Belgium, Johnny Heitinga in Holland, Seamus Coleman in Ireland, Ayegbeni Yakubu, Victor Anichebe and Joseph Yobo in Nigeria ? I could go on. All of these could be used to encourage sponsorship.

I know we benefit from Chang Beer, le Coq Sportif and, recently, a Japanese mobile phone company, but more must be possible. Everton FC must find ways of raising more income.

« Part 1: If You Know Your History  |  Part 3: David Moyes and the Team »

Reader Comments

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Larry Boner
1   Posted 22/02/2011 at 16:15:51

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Anybody who thinks Kirby was anything but a disaster waiting to happen, anybody who sees Bayern and 1860 sharing a stadium as a good example to set or that LCC let Everton down has not done their homework.

We let LCC and the City of Liverpool and Everton supporters down, we would end up like Munich 1860, poor relations to Liverpool.

Read up, then make your opinions public, we are a rudderless ship, we need a major overhaul, in dry dock, with a new captain appointed.

Dan Brierley
2   Posted 22/02/2011 at 16:32:08

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Larry, you are right. If we shared, at first we would be the poor relations, no doubt.

But wouldn't it at least give us the opportunity to find new owners? If we have a 60K stadium, and only manage 40K attendance, a new owner would see there is room for further income if the team is invested in and becomes successful. Today, I am honestly not suprised nobody looks at us. Even if we got 100 million in investment, Goodison would take forever to pay that back.
Larry Boner
3   Posted 22/02/2011 at 16:47:22

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Dan, if you have not read what happened to Munich 1860 when they shared with Bayern... Very sobering, we have the history, but currently we do not have the future.

All successful businesses have visionary people in control; we have no visionaries, but a board who are prepared just to tread water until something happens to pull them out of the shit and fill their pockets.

Mr Moyes has been that something, with all his limitations, who has allowed this board to tread water. I would like to see him with half the money the likes of Benitez, Dalglish, Ancellotti, Mancini have spent, or allowed to keep his junior players.

Brian Denton
4   Posted 22/02/2011 at 17:39:10

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Larry, can you give me a link to read about what happened to Munich 1860? I can remember them playing The RS in the Fairs Cup (about 1966) but haven't heard of them in many many years.
Paul Johnson
5   Posted 22/02/2011 at 17:47:50

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Just had the pleasure of a lovely stroll round the Albert Dock with the good wife. Boy did we miss the boat with the Kings Dock.

I remember viewing the options in the Maritime Museum and, without being biased, the stadium proposal was without doubt the best option by a mile.

Surely LCC can get the two clubs together and further enhance the superb waterfont that now exists on the iconic River Mersey. Let's not blow it again.

Gerry Quinn
6   Posted 22/02/2011 at 18:13:02

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Brian, try the wiki page
Brian Denton
7   Posted 22/02/2011 at 18:15:32

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Jesus, Gerry... reading that link made me feel depressed!
Dick Fearon
8   Posted 22/02/2011 at 18:19:29

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Mike, a few years ago I made a similar criticsm of Everton TV to the club and did not get the coutesy of a reply. I voiced my complaint on here and was lambasted by several Twebbers for not being 'patriotic' etc.

I had no reason for complaint in subsequent years as I quietly and without fuss stopped using it.

Howard Don
9   Posted 22/02/2011 at 19:17:33

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Gerry (5) certainly 1860's plight makes depressing reading. However, it sounds like they were in trouble before the groundshare and probably would have been without it. Also they appeared to have shared another stadium with Bayern for many years without coming to grief.
Charles King
10   Posted 22/02/2011 at 21:43:55

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In my opinion this "new ground vs investment" idea is the biggest red herring bar none.
Rory Slingo
11   Posted 23/02/2011 at 04:58:55

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When you have the right kind of people on board the bus, it does not matter what direction you decide to take, the bus will be steered successfully. We have the wrong people on board; even if they'd chosen the most optimal route, it would fail to reach its destination, as has been demonstrated with KD and DK. It's time to stop this bus, let the people out, and get the right ones on board.

Our final destination is European places and Cup Finals, but this board doesn't know the path to take us there. Whether or not a new stadium lies along that path is irrelevant at this point. Our bus is stuck on a roundabout and doesn't look like coming off anytime soon... though its wheels might do.
Lee Smith
12   Posted 23/02/2011 at 09:52:57

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What a pleasant little bus themed analogy Rory :)
Brian Denton
13   Posted 23/02/2011 at 10:14:41

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"We live life in the bus lane".... HMHB Blues fans obviously !
Shaun Brennan
14   Posted 23/02/2011 at 11:55:31

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I didn't know Victor Meldrew was a blue.
Charles King
15   Posted 23/02/2011 at 13:17:18

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Is the bus a double decker?
Dean Peamum
16   Posted 23/02/2011 at 14:11:29

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Really enjoying your articles, Mike, looking forward to the rest. Sadly I agree with the lack of organisation which seems to permeate down even to Everton Direct.

I ordered a track top a few months ago and, when I got it, it was too small so I sent it back with the returns form, asking them to send a bigger size. They refunded my money even though the bigger size was clearly in stock, costing me a tenner in P&P both ways, (£7.50 from them to me and £2.50 me to them ? hmmn), which of course wasn't refunded.

My phone number & email were asked for on the returns form although I'm not sure why if they can't be assed to contact you. To rub salt in the wound, I had to return it to Manchester.

Liam Reilly
17   Posted 23/02/2011 at 14:16:21

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The Ground share (although painful) would be without doubt the best option.

For sure, the Brand is not a big as Liverpool?s and we would be poor cousins initially, but I remember an excellent marketing campaign from Avis once, who accepted that they were number 2 in the marketplace, played on it and leveraged it.

"We are number 2 but we try harder?, said the slogan.

Their business took a huge leap in market share.

We need to work with what we have got; accept who we are; build on it and create an attractive investment opportunity.
Jimmy Hacking
18   Posted 23/02/2011 at 16:56:40

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I agree with everything you wrote, Mike.

You whippersnappers can call us "Victor Meldrew" all you like, the stone-hard fact of the matter is that visiting Goodison is like visiting a 1960s football ground. The only comparable experience would be a handful of Bolton games I watched at Burnden Park in the mid-90s... (There was literally no roof on the toilets!)

The pies and sausage rolls are disgusting, and you have to queue for literally 25 minutes to get one, which is, err, 10 minutes longer than the half-time break. The seats are shit, there is no legroom unless you are Mini-Me, the advertising hoardings are laughably quaint, the TVs don't work, the PA system reminds me of old prison movies, there never even seems to be things like soap in the dispensers or packets of sugar for the tea.

Yes, yes, it's the football that counts... but I don't understand why every bloody thing involving our club is bloody Amateur Hour. Oh and I once got my coat trapped in the turnstyle, and had to literally slip it off and ask a steward to rotate it again so I could retrieve it.

James Stewart
19   Posted 24/02/2011 at 02:59:33

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Marketing at Everton? Don't be silly! Steve Round does it on his day off.
Alan Rooney
20   Posted 24/02/2011 at 13:11:30

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I agree that ground share is the best option. You can look at it from the Munich perspective or you can look at it from the Milan one. It depends whether your glass is half-full! Those with half-empty glasses don't seem to have any realistic alternatives and citing any article from Wikipedia is really skating on thin ice.

Great article, Mike. I agree with virtually every point that you make. The whole marketing and operations of the club needs a complete overhaul, regardless of where we are competing.

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