They've chosen the candidates, now they won't announce the result.

Imagine a country where MPs choose the candidates and after the election the results are kept a secret. No, this isn't a country, it's the Everton Fans' Forum.

When the Fans' Forum was created in 2011, eternal optimists might have been deluded into thinking that the club was finally going to consult with and listen to its own fans. Some hope. Rather than a Rolls Royce fans have been bequeathed a clapped out old banger that's fit for the scrapyard. All the members of the Fans' Forum were chosen after 'input from club officials' and the agenda was set by the club. Visibility? Public image?

If you want an example of a representative group that speaks the truth to the club please look away now. In 2013 Everton decided to 'modernise' the club badge. After a 'wide consultation' that included the Fans' Forum but not the Shareholders Association, the badge was finally revealed to almost universal disgust. Within days an online protest petition attracted 22,000 fans, the badge was described as "amateurish", "poorly designed", "ridiculous", "clownish" and "not fitting a club of Everton's rich history and stature". Tony Bott, the erstwhile chairman of the Fans' Forum, was left claiming that he had been 'won over' to the new design.

In one of the swiftest u-turns in history, the club was forced to acknowledge its mistake; the badge would only last one season. The club said: "We regret we didn't ask every Evertonian about something that matters so much to every one of you." As for the Fans' Forum, an "excellent and effective group of representative fans" who were consulted on the badge redesign, faced "too big a burden speaking for the entire fan base on something so significant". In other words they didn't have the gumption or the courage to tell the club that the badge was an absolute disaster waiting to happen. Welcome to the cult of compliance.

Shortly after the badge fiasco, the club announced that there would be a 'review' of the Fans' Forum. At last the winds of democracy blowing through this stale structure? You might have hoped that any election process would be open, fair and transparent. Candidates for six new positions were asked to fill in an online application of approximately 100 words. No criteria were outlined, what qualities were the club looking for? The candidates would then be selected for interview by... the Fans' Forum. How you can possibly select anyone based on 100 words is difficult to comprehend. Twelve candidates were then announced after the interviews.

There is obviously a distinct suspicion that any ne'er do wells, malcontents or dissidents were weeded out and excluded. As National Council members of the Football Supporters' Federation both myself and Simon Magner didn't even get to the interview stage and Dave Kelly's application was lost in the ether. So what exactly, other than being white, male and middle-aged were the selection criteria? Undying love for the Great Leader? Last week the white smoke billowed out of the Goodison chimney and six candidates were declared elected. So... how many votes did they get? The club and the Fans' Forum aren't saying, it's all a BIG secret, they won't tell ANYONE. New members of the Fans' Forum selected and interviewed by the outgoing Fans' Forum, no votes declared? Straight away there is a problem of legitimacy and credibility.

It is, of course, all so different in Germany – Supporters' Liaison Officers that aren't club employees, genuine fan parliaments at clubs (Schalke have thousands at their AGMs) and affordable tickets; that came after a mass protest by 6,000 fans in 2010 from over 50 clubs. No accident that with genuine fan consultation and involvement the Bundesligia has ticket prices that are affordable for young people, safe standing areas and a great atmosphere at the games. Compare that with the stale and sterile Premier League.

So at Everton we are left with a token Fans' Forum that ticks all the Uefa boxes. No doubt the new members vetted by the club will willingly accept agendas drawn up by the club. The minutes of meetings used to be on the club website, every effort was made to steer clear of controversy. Should the club serve Pepsi or Coca-Cola? As for individual case-work, like supporters losing their season tickets, the Fans' Forum didn't want to know; I tried, they weren't interested.

Sadly, Everton could have set down a marker for fans democracy. As it is we are left with the same old, same old. The farce of an 'election' that never was. Even North Korea and Fifa announce the results of votes. Still, as they used to say in the Soviet Union – first organise the result then hold the election.

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Reader Comments (17)

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Dave Lynch
1 Posted 18/12/2014 at 19:22:44
I would have put my life savings on a member of the Kipper site getting a place on the panel and guess what?

They have picked arse licking yes men who will tow the bullshit party line and I for one did not expect anything else.

Dave Lynch
2 Posted 18/12/2014 at 19:37:16
They have also picked a woman, so apologies for bracketing her with the male of the species.

Blue Kipper actually has their profile on the website, safe people who will not rock any boats.

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 18/12/2014 at 20:04:52
That's why I take no notice of almost anything spouted by Sharp, Snodin, Horne... they just say what the club want them to say.

They will have a completely different point of view if you meet them out of the spotlight.

Peter Laing
4 Posted 18/12/2014 at 20:14:52
Bluekipper represented on the fans forum – who would have believed that?

Richard, you will probably be accused of having an axe to grind with the Club on this issue due to the well documented problems that you have faced in your opposition of the free school; don't give up.

Everton needs fans like you to try to shine a light through the veil of darkness that often permeates through the Club. The Club has a monopoly on the local media in terms of its ambassadors, Messrs Sharp, Snodin, Stuart and Horne and the Fans Forum appears to be an extension of this policy of 'see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil'.

Mike Connolly
6 Posted 18/12/2014 at 20:54:37
We need Southall and Goodless as fansÂ’ ambassadors. They tell it how it is. Job for the boys... Sharp, Snodin, Stuart.
Mike Childs
7 Posted 18/12/2014 at 22:39:26
Phil Walling and Harold Mattews imo.
Eric Myles
8 Posted 19/12/2014 at 05:25:23
Richard, an interesting paragraph on the OS regarding the Fans Forum

"In addition, an online fans' panel will be launched early next year, giving those supporters who applied to be part of the Fans' Forum but weren't elected or weren't included on the 12-strong shortlist to have their say on key Club topics."

So yourself and Simon Wagner and Dave Kelly should be contacted soon!!

Lev Vellene
9 Posted 19/12/2014 at 18:21:46
I seem to remember I gave them a few choice, but polite, words way back around that time, when it turned out it was not an open forum.

I'm not very vocal, I'm not especially critical (except for DM's tactics at home, every time...), and yet I can understand the Club wanting something detached from any mob-instinct input at the most inopportune times for the club...

I still think (as a compromise between the Party's need to avoid truth and criticism, and the Herd's need to get our most insistent brays heard), that if they ever truly want to make such a Forum work, they can expand their vocal (allowed to speak out loud) members (even extending it only to their brown-noses, like it looks today to us neutrals...). But that forum should be open to all registered members, even the non-vocal ones.

Yet they should still invite votes from ANY Evertonians that have registered (in due time, if that may be a qualifier...) to be allowed to put in a vote on anything as serious as a change of badge would be. Or anything where they want (read: NEED) to actually hear what the Club's fans are saying, so as to avoid falling on their face in a cow patty... Again!

(If this ends up doubled, please excuse, I had a connection failure.)

Lev Vellene
10 Posted 19/12/2014 at 18:26:53
That would be: ... open to read, to all registered members, ...

If they want their own People's Congress, we can't fault them, though. But we'll enjoy the splats when reality gets hit... :D

Martin Graves
11 Posted 20/12/2014 at 08:38:44
Just to throw my 2 pennies worth in there. I was one of the 12 shortlisted candidates and didn't get picked, so first things first: I'm not middle aged...! As some of my previous articles will testify, I wouldn't have been a yes man. I don't want to defend the forum or praise them in equal measure, but for me the process seemed fair. I have said also on social media that the candidates should have been more diverse and actively tried to discuss issues that fans thought were important during the voting period.

It's probably worth noting though that it was run by the electoral commission, and anyone could prob request an FOI of the voting count. Maybe only 500 people voted or something? And it's more of an embarrassment?

Anyway, the reasons these questions are outstanding is the club hasn't released the results and that could be easily resolved. I'm not bitter just disappointed, and having met some of the other candidates at interview, they seemed nice people, so good luck to them.

Gerry Morrison
12 Posted 20/12/2014 at 22:52:56
I just read the profiles of the people chosen. They all seem like good Evertonians and decent people. Why would other Blues come on here and slag them off?
Brian Waring
13 Posted 21/12/2014 at 02:03:01
" They all seem like good Evertonians and decent people." we've also had " they seemed nice people"There's the problem Gerry, we want people who will put the club to the sword, not, nice, decent people.
Brian Waring
14 Posted 21/12/2014 at 03:09:50
By the way, the ’nice people’ ’decent people’ is like what we have out on the pitch, why can’t we for once be right cunts!
David S Shaw
15 Posted 21/12/2014 at 20:35:17
A number of those candidates and current members were contacted by an Everton historian, none gave him the time of day. What does that tell you about what they're there for?
Richard Knights
16 Posted 22/12/2014 at 08:02:33
What organisation allows the outgoing committee to select the candidates - after an interview. Not announcing the ballot results? It only makes the club look small. Let's hope the incoming Fans' Forum will have something to say about the election procedure.

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