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How Many Are We?

By Phil Guyers :  26/03/2011 :  Comments (29) :
I am one of the many Evertonians who was excited by the suggestion of a Fans Trust and looked forward to putting my name down at the earliest opportunity.

Two months later and I am still waiting for that opportunity. The latest update talks of ?developing an organisational structure? and ?financial models and systems? without even knowing how many people are actually interested in the idea. The original post had 185 mostly very positive responses; the second had 52 and the last one just 12 before it slid off the homepage. This would indicate to me that there has been a serious tailing off of interest and I?d like to see something positive before the whole thing dies the usual death.

Amidst the euphoria of the original post there was the suggestion of signing up 100,000 fans contributing an average of £10 a month giving us a figure of £12 million a year income. In my opinion, this figure is fanciful in the extreme but who knows what figure could actually be achieved? The first step has to be to find out how many Evertonians are out there and the second is to determine how many of them are prepared to make a financial contribution to further the interests of the club.

With the greatest of respect to Tony and Mike, whose idea the trust is, and who I am sure are doing vital work to ensure things are set up properly when the time comes to launch Trust Everton, the whole thing will stand or fall depending on the number of people who are interested enough to part with their cash. My suggestions for keeping the ball rolling are as follows:?

1. Set up a database as soon as possible and start getting names and addresses on it. No financial commitment should be expected at this point, we?re just interested in the numbers. I?d like to see a counter on the ToffeeWeb homepage showing how many people have put their names down.

2. At a certain point in the future (perhaps when the counter has reached a certain figure) there should be a call to the people on the database for a £10 ?membership fee?. This will weed out any people whose commitment is not that serious and provide some initial financial ?clout?.

3. The members can then be asked for their ongoing financial commitment. As many people have posted, there should be a minimum (£2 a month?) but no maximum on the understanding that it is still ?one member, one vote?.

I believe that the above approach will answer the vital question of whether a Fans Trust is viable or not and will also contribute to keeping the issue alive in the minds of fans.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that none of this is intended as a criticism of Tony and Mike who put forward this fantastic idea and I apologise to them if things like the above are already in hand. It?s just that I am desperate to see such a good idea work and want to put my name down as soon as possible.

Reader Comments

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Chris Bannantyne
1   Posted 27/03/2011 at 00:29:41

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Yeah, I'm keen on the idea also. But it will take some time to make sure the trust is absolutely as perfect as can be.

I will be making a contribution when it is up and running.
Michael Coville
2   Posted 27/03/2011 at 02:16:53

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Well, if we do get 12 million pounds a year, how is the money going to be spent? On players would be fine but, knowing the business management, it would either be wasted or would be used by Bill to pay back his overdraft. Someone has to guarantee that the money is spent on players ? otherwise it will be a waste of time. Even then, it is not the answer, we need an owner we can trust... and then I will be willing to contribute.
Derek Thomas
3   Posted 27/03/2011 at 02:36:43

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My thought is that, if and when we get some serious cash in the fund, the first job is to buy Goodison (off who ever 'owns' it or the mortgage) out from under the present serial wasters. Then Finch Farm.

Then:

Debt and Investment. We now get into murky waters morally and financially... Are we and should we be in the business of giving Bill and Co a Get out of Jail card? Throw good money after bad.

This is why I think that Tony and Mike are taking their time to cross the Tees and dot the Eyes. Just so we don't end up throwing our good money after their bad.

We have seen instances of 3rd party player ownership ? do we want to go there?... and who picks the player? FM geeks??
Rory Slingo
4   Posted 27/03/2011 at 03:43:35

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1. Putting a name in a database is no guarantee of participation when the time comes.

2. Why would you want to 'weed out' anyone? Are you going to reject someone's contribution in future if they did not jump on the bandwagon immediately?

3. Agree on the minimum and "one fan, one vote" thing. But let's just have some patience and wait and see what Tony and Mike come up with. I can't see any value in your proposed database at this point in time, it's just your desperation to see something happening. Just because the hour and minute hands are moving slowly doesn't mean the gears aren't turning furiously in the background.

The idea will stand or fall on its own merit. I think people are just waiting to see something concrete before posting again, that would explain the trailing off of replies in later updates from Tony and Mike. I don't think it's a drop in interest, there's just not anything to post about yet.
Rob Keys
5   Posted 27/03/2011 at 08:32:05

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Michael is right. You still need a good team of people who can manage this trust. Or else, it's as good as giving it to the current management. £12 million is no small amount, and in the hands of amateurs and those with less than noble intentions, the result: SCAM.
Eugene Ruane
6   Posted 27/03/2011 at 09:58:15

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Phil, you say..

"The original post had 185 mostly very positive responses; the second had 52 and the last one just 12 before it slid off the homepage. This would indicate to me that there has been a serious tailing off of interest"

Well I didn't respond to Tony and Mike's last post (of the 18th) but nobody should take that as a lack of interest on my part.

I suspect (like many?) I just read it and thought 'Ok, thanks for the update, I'll wait until there's something I can actually do'.
Dennis Stevens
7   Posted 27/03/2011 at 11:03:56

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As stated already, many of us who are fully supportive of the idea are just glad for the occasional update as & when there's anything to report. Something of this importance is better done properly than hurriedly.

I would expect that the decisions as to how best to utilise any funds raised for the benefit of the club would rest with the subscribers, so the guys at the forefront at the moment are probably not inclined to be too prescriptive in that regard.

My personal opinion is that the first objective should be to secure a debt-free freehold of Goodison Park & then Finch Farm owned by the Trust on behalf of the supporters for the benefit of the club. I think that would be quite enough to do to be going on with & then subsequent objectives can be set.

The Trust has to be a long-term project with the aim of working in co-operation with the club's Board of Directors, regardless of which individuals are on the Board, either now or in the future ? it's not about personalities but the long term health of the club.

David Thomas
8   Posted 27/03/2011 at 12:11:20

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I think this fans trust has a lot of potential if managed properly. However, I think people should not go to overboard with how much money could be raised, ie £12 million a year, otherwise all it is going to lead to is disappointment when these unrealistic figures are not reached.
Chad Schofield
9   Posted 27/03/2011 at 12:34:28

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I agree that it would be nice to see something... but, as with polls around election time, at this stage, it would not mean a great deal. As you say, asking for a financial contribution would make numbers drop... but at this exact stage it would not prove or disprove anything. Effectively all were doing is creating noise.

Building a list of Frequently Asked Questions may be a good idea, so that there is less repetitive questioning. Then again, there may well be one already if they've set up a site... but I've just lazily looked for updates here!
Tom Hughes
10   Posted 27/03/2011 at 13:11:42

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I think the updates weren't intended necessarily to drum up more support, but just to let everyone know where things were at.... They want and need to do things right, and that requires time.

Also people need to remember that this is an effort to also harness the support of the distant non-match-going fans who would love the opportunity to contribute, and address the obvious issues in this way. I'm still convinced there is massive potential.

Jamie Carroll
11   Posted 27/03/2011 at 14:13:05

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Count me in, and I know of countless other fans over here that would contribute to such a scheme ONLY if Kenwright is not involved as the chairman.
Dave Brooks
12   Posted 27/03/2011 at 14:39:03

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Phil, I fully sympathise with your wish to see ?something? happening. And I?ll admit ? as one of the original positive posters ? that every time I visit toffeeweb, I?m disappointed that things haven?t gone further.

At the same time, and as I said, as one of the few posters in response to the last update, I?m relieved that Tony and Mike are taking all the time necessary to make the trust viable before launch, and hopefully viable in the long term.

Eugene (6) ? I pretty much had the same reaction when I read updates 2 and 3. Nothing new, so this means that Tony and Mike?s work is progressing (because, for some reason, I trust them), so not much to say really.

Chad (9) ? I agree re FAQs which is why I trawled ?Time for??, ?Update 1? and ?Update 2? and sent Tony and Mike (mid Feb.) a spreadsheet that could be used for generating this FAQ list. It?s interesting to see that some of the points raised above were raised multiple times in comments on the above three posts. I don?t know what Tony and Mike need from us, if anything, but I?d encourage anyone with spare time to give to contact them and offer their services. It costs us nothing but our time and might make their jobs easier, who knows?

Phil ? I really do appreciate the sense of urgency you feel, but IMO I think that what you are proposing represents one of the main risks to getting something like Trust Everton off the ground. Please don?t take this the wrong way, but if ?we? can?t wait, what is actually a short amount of time given the complexity of the issue, to make our contribution, we?ll quickly become divided. We?ll have a half-a-dozen different trusts and the power of each will be reduced. ?Fizzle? and ?out? are words that spring to mind.

Like Chris (1) and Tom (10), I?m waiting. And if Trust Everton is launched with a shape I like, I?ll join and contribute. If I don?t see an update once a month or so, I?ll start to get worried.

If it doesn?t get off the ground before the start of next season (just my last date, if you like), I?ll be looking around for other options.

But, for now, I think eight weeks and two days isn't a long time to wait.
Dave Brooks
13   Posted 27/03/2011 at 14:58:48

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Or, put another (shorter) way: as a potential member and volunteer worker for an Everton fans trust, I?d prefer, Phil, to see your drive, enthusiasm and ideas IN the trust than outside it. Thought of contacting Tony and Mike directly and making your proposals to them?
Neil Humphreys
14   Posted 27/03/2011 at 15:34:49

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I very much like the idea of contributing to the trust but think that it should be ringfenced for buying the following (if possible to so do):

1) Goodison Park
2) Finch Farm
3) Everton Shares

The reason is clear: on the basis that the current management are not keen on dialogue, I would not contribute to the funds available for their mismanagement. I would much rather be in a position where, should the ground be under our ownership with EFC as a tennant, if the club's trading business goes into administration, we at least have the facility to bring it back. Finch Farm would be a sensible second purchase and then finally wrestle shares from the current main owners by leveraging their tenancy at Goodison.

I'm not sure if the above is in any way achievable, but ultimately it could follow the FC Barcelona model of fan ownership. I know the above is massively simplistic but, as a what-if, I'd be happy to contribute.

Dennis Stevens
15   Posted 27/03/2011 at 18:45:13

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Hear! Hear! Neil. That approach would perhaps ease the worries some seem to have that the Trust could become a mechanism for propping up the current regime, but doesn't prevent the Trust from maintaining cordial relations & working co-operatively with this or any future Board.
Denis Richardson
16   Posted 27/03/2011 at 21:39:42

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I said I would be up for it in the original post but no point in repeating this until something concrete happens.

I agree that the trust needs some flexibility but I would be most interested to know what the main aims of the trust are. E.g. part/total ownership of the club at some far distant future point or somme other aim? E.g. the trust could start buying shares but given the board dont want to listen to shareholders and will not sell a majority stake, not sure what this would bring.

Anyway, I will support any genuine and realistic proposal that sees the club move forward.

Eagerly waiting for the update.
Phil Guyers
17   Posted 27/03/2011 at 23:16:54

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I must admit to being quite disappointed by the responses so far. Nobody has addressed the question in the title of my post and surely the time to be discussing what we do with the money is when we have some idea of how much money we are likely to have. My concern is about numbers. Is there going to be sufficient interest to make a difference?

I think there is a great danger of putting the cart before the horse on this issue. For me, it can be reduced to two questions.

How many paying members are required to make a Fans' Trust worthwhile?

What evidence is there that the required number will sign up?

Some people seem to think that such questions should not even be asked, let alone answered.

To answer some of the individual points made:-

Rory(4) ? The value of the database is simply to get an indication of the level of interest in the idea and, following on from that, an idea of what the Trust can aim to achieve. Of course it?s no guarantee of participation but that?s why you have the next step of the membership fee. If you join the database and then don?t come up with £10 when the time comes, you?re weeding yourself out. After the initial list of members, anyone can join at any time on payment of their £10.

Eugene(6) ? My point wasn?t that everyone who is interested should be replying to the updates; I didn?t respond to any of them. It was just a general indication that things were starting to go quiet on something that I?m quite keen on. Do you not think it would useful to know as soon as possible if we are 2 out of 2,000 or 2 out of 200,000?

Dave(12) ? I too am glad that Tony and Mike are taking their time over the details of the Trust. I am making no criticism of them at all but just feel that there is no reason why we can?t start to build the database now. I hadn?t contacted Tony and Mike directly as I didn?t know how to; trusteverton.com doesn?t appear to be up and running yet. However, there is an e-mail address in the first update so I?ve just e-mailed my OP to them and offered my services if required in the future!

Why is everyone so afraid of just putting their name down NOW? If we can?t get people to just put their name down with no other commitment, what chance is there that we?ll get enough paying members when push comes to shove?

We should be reaching out to the whole fanbase worldwide, seeing how many we can get on board and taking it from there. When we know how big the horse is, we can start arguing about the cart.
Eric Myles
18   Posted 28/03/2011 at 03:24:10

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I can understand where you are coming from Phil having been enthused by the idea when it came up a couple of years ago only for it to fizzle out with no updates or explanation as to why from the organisers.

An update of things discussed with the Fans Trust, ideas mooted, responses from readers and in what direction the Trust looks to be going would keep interest up amongst the readers, especially those of us that are so far away.
Rory Slingo
19   Posted 28/03/2011 at 04:14:53

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#17 Phil, I believe putting the horse before the cart would be to accomplish something first and then telling people about it. If the idea is good and the foundation is solid people will start to come on board, word will spread and interest will snowball. Gauging interest too early is likely to be detrimental when either a) it ends up as yet another idea that fizzles out, or b) the end product is different from what people initially expected. People then stop paying attention to any future ideas as they are conditioned to believe nothing will come of it yet again.

I think most of us support the idea of a Fans Trust, we just want to know more about how it's going to work before throwing our full support behind it. How am I supposed to know if I'll support something that doesn't even exist yet? As I said earlier, the idea will not stand or fizzle out based on how many are interested in it now, but rather on how well it is implemented. Do it right, and it will catch on and stick.

I believe Tony and Mike are taking the right approach, taking their time, making sure everything is considered carefully, and I have faith that they will deliver something solid in time to come. Any progress, however slight, is progress and I look forward to their next update.
Dave Brooks
20   Posted 28/03/2011 at 11:22:52

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Phil (@17) ?
I?m very happy to hear that you?ve contacted Tony and Mike. For my part I think you?re right to ask and try to answer these questions, but ? as Trust Everton seems to be in development ? I think the best people for you to be talking to are those who are putting it together.

Re the proposed database, I personally could only go on as ?up for it depending on what form it takes?, and ? like Rory (19) I?m not sure that?s indicative of anything at this stage.

Finally, I?m not sure that knowing the numbers is the most important thing, even if I love the idea of a counter. I?m disappointed, for example, that I can?t express my support for E4C without joining facebook, and I?ve told the E4C people that.

Of course, you?re right, and your options are different if you?ve got £100M or a fiver. But Trust Everton ? IMO ? needs to know, and communicate, what it wants to achieve before deciding how it can do that. Would, and should, the fundamental goals (not the strategies and tactics) of a trust be different depending on how much money is available? Personally, I?m not sure that they should.
Dave Brooks
21   Posted 28/03/2011 at 11:31:37

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A final thought re the numbers ? I would sign up as ?a supporter? of E4C, but that?s because I know what they stand for. Because they?ve got a mission statement - http://www.evertoniansforchange.com/. For the moment, I can?t say the same for an Everton supporters? trust.
Eugene Ruane
22   Posted 28/03/2011 at 10:28:00

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I know what you mean, Phil, but I just don't think there'll be any REAL idea of numbers until there is an actual.. erm... 'manifesto' (?) and then a place you can register (interest/membership or whatever).

Like Rory, I think Mike and Tony are taking the right approach.

Tony I'Anson
23   Posted 29/03/2011 at 06:44:47

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Thanks for the comments.
Please bear in mind the third update, due to going up just before a game, was only on the homepage for a relatively short timespan. The ultimate response will depend on precisely what is proposed.

There is always a lot more work to these things than meets the eye, a lot of possibilities to be explored and consideration must be given to how they might interact with the particular circumstances of Everton FC, and how these circumstances may change in the near future. We are trying to anticipate potential pitfalls in advance.

Given the level of interest in the trust, we are looking at launching the provisional website in the next few weeks to help maintain interest and also to function as a point of contact.
Stephen Kenny
24   Posted 29/03/2011 at 14:55:46

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Tony are you anywhere near producing something along the lines of a mission statement? Or entering into dialogue with prosepectives about what the mission should be?
Michael Kenrick
Editorial Team
25   Posted 29/03/2011 at 16:37:32

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And do you have a logo or something we could use?
Drew O'Neall
26   Posted 29/03/2011 at 18:39:48

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I would suggest surreptitiously buying as many shares as possible in the club, from a dispersed base, in order to minimise the club's owners leveraging the trustholders love for the club against them.

Attempts to buy the club's assets and or relieve it's debt, without ownership, would only weaken our bargaining position in attempting to remove the apparently incompetant board as it would ease their financial pressures and lead to brinkmanship which would ultimately be to the detriment of the club we love.

I would be inclined to buy up shares as soon as possible and when you have a decent stakeholding, approach the board with a proposal to buy a controlling stake. Making the proposal or asking how much BK wants now will only drive the price up

If BK is a man of his word, he will step aside because he always said he would sell to a blue.
James Hollister
27   Posted 30/03/2011 at 06:46:06

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Have the EFC board said they would accept the Everton Trust and do business with them?

If they aren't willing to do that, then where is the point coz it won't be going into Everton which kind of defeats the entire purpose, no?

I am just confused about the whole thing.
James Hollister
28   Posted 30/03/2011 at 06:51:21

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Drew O'Neall - If BK is a man of his word, he will step aside because he always said he would sell to a blue.

But then Drew, we know he is a liar too... I wouldn't hold much hope on him selling to anyone; he won't let anyone near his train set, and that's the problem right there.

But buying up as many shares as possible does seem the sensible way of doing it, but would they be able to buy enough to form some sort of leverage as a bargaining tool?
Drew O'Neall
29   Posted 30/03/2011 at 12:57:48

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My point exactly, James Hollister...

BK would have anarchy on his hands if the supporters trust had the money and he still wouldn't sell ? fans would boycott (I would hope).

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