The times they are a-changing

In conversation with Dr Everton's better half, Elizabeth France, about Bill Kenwright, his legacy and the future of the club.

Lyndon Lloyd 15/01/2016 41comments  |  Jump to last

Ive said it before but its worth repeating our beloved club is supported by the finest people on earth, a conviction that grows with each chat with Dr Evertons better half. To prepare for a winter awash with unwanted transfer speculation, I asked the Toffee Lady about the state of the club and to cheer the dark evenings with more of the tremendous Evertoons. I received more than I asked for. This time she didnt want to dwell on Old Alcaraz or Old Tim and reassured me that, despite the atrocious surrenders to middling teams from the Midlands, she has refrained from reporting Roberto Martinez to Amnesty International.

Lyndon: Happy New Year! Any special wishes for 2016?

Elizabeth France: Thats simple. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to William of Wavertree, King of Evertonia and Defender of the Royal Blue Faith. Despite his struggles to return the club to the elite, its one of lifes mysteries why fans like me are so fond of him. Yes, thats right I like Bill. I think its much to do with the fact that when our sovereign speaks, he is capable of making you feel like youre on the elevator to royal blue heaven. Seriously, I wouldnt swap him for Kroenke at Arsenal, Lerner at Aston Villa, Henry at Liverpool, Glazer at Manchester United and Short at Sunderland. Or Abramovich at Chelsea, Lewis at Tottenham, that young Sheikh at Manchester City or chubby chap at Newcastle. Ask yourself, do any of them care for their clubs in the way that Blue Bill loves Everton? So my special wishes for 2016 are for his full recovery and healthy retirement.

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LL: Some have questioned whether Bill Kenwright has amply defended the royal blue faith. Do you think he has?

EF: Given the seismic impacts on footballs landscape of roubles in 2003 and petro-dollars in 2009, I doubt that any life-long Blue could have done a better job of promoting Everton as a proper football club. As a charming raconteur, he combines the showmanship of Michael Barrymore with the self-promotion of Donald Trump, and, more important, the kindness of the Dalai Lama. As a fanatical Evertonian, his standing compares with those of Brian Labone, Colin Harvey and Mike Lyons. Is there a greater compliment? But thats not what you asked, is it?

As a leader, Bill is no different than the traditional club chairman you know the self-made man who invests in his boyhood club as a celebration of his business success. After a false start, a few hiccups, unhelpful spin, enigmatic wheeling and dealing and very little support from his fellow directors, he halted the slide towards administration. Yes, things were that desperate. Since then Ive applauded Bills hard work as well as the stalwart and professional efforts of Robert Elstone. But you need more than an enthusiastic two-man team to fully exploit the commercial opportunities available to Premier League clubs and return us to the elite.

Nowadays, its no longer fashionable to appreciate Bill. In fact, resentment is rife. Some members of the Everton family prefer to forget that his consortium remember True Blue Holdings? bought Perter Johnsons shares when far more affluent Blues kept their heads down and hands firmly in their pockets. Without Bill, we would have slipped into oblivion.

My husband, who knows a bit about turning around under-performing businesses, had anticipated that Bill would stabilize, re-package and, after a couple of years, sell the club for a reasonable mark-up to a well-heeled investor qualified to shower us with golden visions and silver trophies. While that didnt happen, Ive no doubts that Bill started with noble intentions until he counted his NTL chickens before theyd hatched. Because these phantom funds had been wasted remember Nyarko, Alexandersson et al? we were plunged into debt from which weve struggled to escape. Of course, there were other gaffes: Destination Kirkby was ill-conceived; eliminating the AGM wasnt clever either. He seemed to forget that no-one owns Everton Football Club, the directors are mere guardians. All fans, including the more independent-minded ones, are entitled to question those in charge. Surely the combination of transparency and rigorous debate are required to create a robust path to a rewarding future.

Nevertheless, Bill pushed the boat out again and again to provide his managers with transfer kitties. Aided by the Moyesiah remember David Moyes? we finished in the top half 9 times during their 11 seasons together. Win a game or two, Moyes was a magician. Lose one Bill was at fault for not being a billionaire. In my eyes, the manager was fortunate to have a chairman prepared to sell everything that wasnt screwed down and mortgage everything else to allow him to smash the clubs transfer record and stretch the pay structure. Bill deserves no little credit for our stability. My other half and few others know of his unswerving efforts to keep Moyes happy. Or his frustrations. Imagine youve gone from door-to-door begging for funds. You trust the managers judgment, then have to bite your lip as he unveils how he spent the money feast your eyes on Per Krøldrup. The chairman never criticized his manager, not even for dithering over recruiting transfer targets or disposing of loyal deadwood.

LL: A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Bill first announced this intention to find a wealthy benefactor to buy the club off him. The Premier League has changed. How do you feel his search for investment has gone?

EF: We all know that success can no longer be achieved with a managerial partnership of alchemic genius like Howard Kendall and Colin Harvey. It takes an owner with real wealth, vision and long-term commitment. I hope Im not alone in feeling that there is something depressing about the foreign billionaires who buy Premier League clubs. They should find something better to do with their cash. Bill has been criticized for not finding a rich and noble successor but does such a person exist? The well-publicized search has attracted more scepticism than pounds sterling. After the delusion of NTL and the fiasco of Fortress Sports Fund, there remains Philip Green, Robert Earl, BCR Sports and the conundrum over the effective ownership of the club. Perhaps all will be clarified when the proceeds from the sale of the club are distributed in the not too distant future.

Why would any man of wealth want to invest in a football club? To date, its never been a profit-making business. Money has been made only when a club is sold on to someone with a bigger ego. Of course, the times they are a-changing. With the recent influx of US owners and their investment dollars, sooner or later the EPL will resemble the NFL in which television revenues are staggering, franchises move to more lucrative geographic markets, stadiums are family-friendly, salaries are capped and, most important of all, trophies are spread around. I look forward to the day when most, if not all, teams have an equal chance of winning the title.

As for the future, our new owners wont see Everton as a vanity investment. Theyll expect attractive financial dividends. In my eyes, theyll be welcome to them if they earn them. I understand that M&A lawyers, forensic accountants and voodoo practitioners engaged by some prospective buyers are scrutinizing our books and searching for skeletons at this time. I wish them well but reiterate that its imperative that we minority shareholders, season-ticket holders, Everton crazy souls conduct our due diligence of them and their plans. We should be provided with an opportunity to interview them before any deal is completed.

I dont look forward to the day when Bills shares are transferred to someone with no previous connection to the club. That said, Everton will survive, hopefully flourish. It continued without John Houlding, George Mahon, Will Cuff, Sir John Moores and will do so without Bill Kenwright. In the interim, however, we must prepare ourselves for a different world.

LL: Yes, I'm sure there are many of us gripped by trepidation at the inevitable succession at Goodison Park. How do you think will Bill be remembered?

EF: Clearly the sale will make our owners, whoever they may be, buckets of money. What Bill does with his windfall is his personal business but, in the eyes of many, will demonstrate his true commitment to the royal blue cause and the Merseyside community.

How will I remember him? First and foremost, Bill was a saviour. While our beloved club trails behind its traditional rivals by some distance both on and off the pitch we are in much better nick today than when he grasped control. The same cant be said for Peter Johnson or Sir John Moores who may have captured silverware but dumped their share-holdings like hot potatoes without much thought for the consequences.

Ill remember Bill as the saviour who missed opportunities. Given that we were one of its architects, I had expected him and his fellow directors to exploit the fertility of the Premier League and consolidate our standing alongside Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. They didnt. In fact, the club rested on its laurels make that stagnated and failed to drum up commercial deals befitting of Englands fourth most successful club and the world's twentieth most valuable brand. Yes, were in decent nick but we missed the boat we helped to launch.

Ill remember Bill as the saviour who stayed for 16 years. His reign was too long, with or without a trophy, and divided the fan-base. Even the most popular US presidents are limited to 8 years in the White House. Bill should have declared success and stood down around 2002 after securing the deal of a lifetime to own 50% of one of the most advanced stadiums in the world for a pittance. Whenever I pass the Echo Arena, I stifle my tears and thoughts of what should have been. No gaffe was bigger than not moving to this modern home with better views and quieter neighbours. You may recall that the roof at the Kings Dock could be closed and the pitch rolled to one side to accommodate indoor events like concerts and the hanging of Kopites. And as my husband claimed, it would have been opened to allow God to watch his team in action. Sadly, this squandered opportunity will haunt Bill and future generations of Blues. It was similar to Decca Records rejecting a certain quartet of fab musicians. If Bill had concluded the deal to build or lease a new stadium on the banks of the Mersey, he would be hailed as a royal blue saint.

Also, Ill remember Bill as the saviour who sold the greatest-ever Merseyside-born footballer. Ive no doubts that Wayne Rooney was sent from royal blue heaven to lead us from stagnation. His transfer at age 18 saved us from ruin and also confirmed that we were no longer among the elite. In my eyes, Rooney was the first Everton hero to achieve global fame after leaving Goodison. To his credit, Bill squeezed every penny out of the transfer. Hes an expert negotiator and did the same with the sales of Jeffers, Rodwell, Big Vic and resales of Johnson, Lescott and Fellaini. As for imminent departures in the summer of 2016, I doubt if hell be blamed for selling Big Rom or TG Stones thats how hes known on our house. More than likely, that will be a job for the new owners.

As for his legacy? Forget the Kings Dock, the sale of Rooney, Destination Kirkby, the lack of commercial ambition and the abundance of spin history is history. The times they are a-changing. All Blues should focus on the future. Bill was our saviour but should be judged on his ability to pass the baton to new owners possessing the right qualifications, integrity and strategy for returning Everton to the elite.

Again, I would like to thank Bill for his unwavering commitment and immense contributions to the royal blue cause and, like all Blues, wish him a full and speedy recovery. Goodison isnt the same without him.

LL: No-one can doubt that he is a showman and a wonderful orator. Does Bill have a refined sense of humour?

EF: Hes an Evertonian and must enjoy a good laugh. As for a sense of humour? Surely he needed one to appear in Carry On Matron. As for a refined sense of humour? How else could he have coped with the comedic performances of Nyarko, Alexandersson, Krøldrup and the prototype for Old Tim Richard Wright? As for my favourite bit of Bill banter, well you heard it in the company of our CEO in sunny San Francisco a couple of years ago. David tells the joke better than me but here goes:

After he died, Mr Elstone was made to queue outside the Pearly Gates for 40 days and 40 nights before being granted an audience with the Almighty. Have you ever told a lie? asked God. I dont think so. Why? queried Mr Elstone flashing his Colgate smile. The All Powerful explained: Up here in royal blue heaven every Evertonian is assigned a clock which shows the number of times they have told a lie. This includes deceptions, misrepresentations, falsehoods, white lies and Goodison whoppers. Look over my shoulder. The clock on the left on my wall belongs to Elizabeth France. As you know she is a saint and has never ever told a lie. The hands on her clock have always been on zero. God continued: The clock on the right belongs to David Moyes. Again as you know, the Moyesiah is an honest man who has been required to tell one or two fibs during every transfer window. The hands of his clock are resting on number eight. Mr Elstone became uneasy: So where is the chairman's clock? God smiled: Ah Mr Kenwright. His clock has been relocated to my sons room. Mr Elstone looked impressed: Wow, Bill's clock is in your sons room? God smiled: Yes, Jesus is using it as a ceiling fan!

Im looking forward to a future involving more laughter in which differences within the fan-base are forgotten, the Everton family is re-united in harmony and Goodison is declared a no-fly zone. I seek a bright future in which we arent afraid to laugh at ourselves. As you know, no experience compares with the company of match-going fans. I enjoy their memories, moans and gossip as much as their humour and enthusiasm. The Everton family is extra-ordinary. What makes our bonds so extra special? For starters, we use out inherent strength of character developed from being raised as Blues to radiate a collective warmth that puts more conventional families to shame.

Want an example? Permit me to tell you about my husbands recent encounter. Even though David keeps a low profile, he is flattered when Blues put a name to his wrinkled face. Of course, thats not always the case. As my better half tells it, he was minding my own business outside the Adelphi on the evening of another Goodsion defeat when he noticed a Blue walking towards him. Sad-faced, the fan was wearing a tee-shirt displaying a profound message. It read: Blues versus Reds humility versus arrogance loyalty versus entitlement art versus porn Dr Everton. The fact that David couldnt take his eyes off the shirt seemed to irritate the owner: What you looking at old man? David smiled and retorted: Rare wisdom. The Blue glared at him: Eff-off, you old Kopite. While my husband wasnt pleased by the reference to his ageing appearance, it was the use of the K-word that upset him. Hed never been called one before. It made him feel dirty.

LL: This brings me to the Evertoons, Dr Evertons collaboration with the award-winning cartoonist Peter King to tell the Everton story warts and all through 200 or so chuckles. You may recall that some were featured on ToffeeWeb in early 2015. This time, the subjects are Alcaraz, Kone, Van der Meyde, Moyes, Ferguson, Etoo and others.

As the focus of our inaugural Toffeeweb Cartoon Competition, Elizabeth has requested our help in finalizing the gag involving the behavior of a certain Darron Gibson. We seek a caption to complete the cartoon. Well aware that they are no shortage of amusing people among our readers, I look forward to your feedback below within the next 7 days.

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Reader Comments (41)

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John Jones
1 Posted 15/01/2016 at 08:37:06
Brilliant, Hopefully she is right and the times are changing. She gives the impression that she knows more than she is letting on and the future can be bright. COYBB
David Chait
2 Posted 15/01/2016 at 09:35:30
Great read!
Jim Potter
3 Posted 15/01/2016 at 09:45:59
A fantastic read. Makes me proud to be a Blue.
Steve Hogan
4 Posted 15/01/2016 at 10:49:43
Quite an articulate article by someone who has obvious access to the ’inner sanctum’ judging by her references to the ’due diligence’ process currently taking place on behalf of our prospective new owners.

Sometimes though, and I say this with all due respect to Elizabeth France, living so far away from Merseyside, I’m not sure you can gauge the true level of frustration and despair many of us feel towards Bill Kenwright.

I think she is being a little ’flowery’ when she compares him with the ’showmanship of Michael Barrymore’!!

I’m not sure anyone would want to be compared with Michael Barrymore at the moment?

The article pretty much captures the whole 16 year tenure of Kenwright’s reign as the Chairman of our club, particularly the missed opportunities, and I for one, find it hard to forgive him for that, simply because his failure to do the right thing at the right time, has put the long term future of the club at great risk.

I, along with all Evertonians I’m sure, wish him a full recovery from his recent spell of ill health, but who knows what lasting damage he has done to our great club by treating it in the past simply as a ’vanity project’?

Patrick Murphy
5 Posted 15/01/2016 at 11:14:57
Possible caption: "Just our luck to be playing Everton the day after Gibbo’s birthday! – he’s so much quicker barefooted!"
Colin Glassar
6 Posted 15/01/2016 at 11:47:41
The problem with Chairman Bill, and OFM, is that they overstayed their welcome and damaged their legacy. Bill has never shown any ambition or foresight. After stabilising the club, by selling Rooney, he should've gone. As for the failure to secure the funds for the KD he should be hung drawn and quartered for that.

Apart from hat, an excellent read.

Brian Harrison
7 Posted 15/01/2016 at 12:20:57
What a wonderful read and also informative, she seems like a lovely lady, and I agree with most of what she says. The only little bit that I didn’t agree with was were she put Sir John Moores in the same category as Peter Johnson for, as she says, dumping his shares like hot potatoes.

Maybe my memory is not what it used to be but I thought Moores fell into ill health and his shares were transferred to his daughter, Lady Grantchester, and his grandson, Lord Grantchester. Who subsequently sold their shares to Johnson.

For me, Sir John Moores was without doubt our best ever chairman, and with the funds to make sure his managers could compete financially with any club in the world.

I remember many years ago I went with my mate who was a red to watch the other lot play Watford... I think it was the quarter-final of the FA Cup. I didn’t have a ticket but John Moores drove into the car park in his Rolls Royce, cheekily I told him I was a blue and asked did he have a spare ticket. He didn’t but told me to wait by the players entrance and he would go inside to see if he could get me a ticket.

His chauffeur came out after about 15 minutes and came over to me to say sadly there were no spare tickets. But he said, "Oh and by the way, he did genuinely ask, I can assure you of that."

Eugene Ruane
8 Posted 15/01/2016 at 12:33:36
"As Darron Gibson closed in on goal, it seemed only an almighty distraction could prevent him from scoring. Then he noticed the Street End appeared to have been painted by Claude Monet."
Kevin Tully
9 Posted 15/01/2016 at 12:59:52
The best piece I’ve read on here for years. Heartwarming and truthful... brilliant!

This part made me chuckle and nod in total agreement: "I’m looking forward to a future involving more laughter in which differences within the fan-base are forgotten, the Everton family is re-united in harmony and Goodison is declared a no-fly zone."

Phil Smith
10 Posted 15/01/2016 at 14:09:38
My idea for the caption would be something along the lines of:

"Wow, what an intoxicating run"

Or how about:

"Gibson has crashed one against the post! Unbelievable"

Last one:

"He was never in control of that situation (in an Andy Gray's voice) and his final move was just poor judgement".

Phil Walling
11 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:01:21
Mrs France's comments begins to make me ashamed of my cynicism regarding all things Everton over the years although I do think she lets BK off lightly over King' s Dock.

For that alone, an honourable man would have walked!

Jay Harris
12 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:29:13
"Tried to hit the bar before 2 am, guess I hit something else."
Jim Hardin
13 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:35:32
Brilliant! Thank you for a great read. How about, "If that’s what he does after scoring a goal, I don’t even want to know what happens when he misses one."

Or how about "Well, the Irishman plays just like he drives."
Tony Hill
14 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:56:51
Dr and Mrs France have BK’s number and that’s pretty clear despite the diplomacy. It’s also plain that we are ready to be sold. Good to hear again from this lady.
Steve Carse
15 Posted 15/01/2016 at 15:56:55

I totally agree And when you add in the numerous other cock-ups and deceits, I wouldn’t have thought that there was any reason left for Mrs F to be holding BK in any esteem – other than that he’s a True Blue – something I don’t doubt for a second... but which hardly makes him worthy of ever leading our great club.
Frank Wade
16 Posted 15/01/2016 at 16:11:12
Absolutely brilliant, informed and witty interview. Evertonia and ToffeeWeb at it’s absolute best.

I can’t better Phil’s "Gibson has crashed one against the post".

Anyone know if there is a book of the Evertoons available?

Like all Evertonians, I hope Bill makes a full recovery from illness to full health in 2016.

Darryl Ritchie
17 Posted 15/01/2016 at 16:41:30
Elizabeth, all the best to David and yourself, in the New Year. A calm, reasonable view of all things "Everton", as usual.

My go at a caption:

"That Gibbo’s a one-man wrecking crew! .... At least he wasn’t smoking."

John Daley
18 Posted 15/01/2016 at 16:42:09
My caption:

Clumsy bugger left a clue behind. One boot, spotlessly clean, studs pristine like they've rarely touched turf. A bit like Cinderella, except this time it's the wearer who's made out of glass.

Great article by the way.

Eddie Dunn
19 Posted 15/01/2016 at 16:59:18
"Was that Darren Gibson?"
"I dunno, I haven't seen him in years!"
William Cartwright
20 Posted 15/01/2016 at 17:43:41
McGeady 1, Gibson 8...
Jim Potter
21 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:25:40
Looking at the cartoon and given where he ended up that night ...

"Told yer... Gibbo’s been on the 4 star again."

Or ... looking at the solo piece of footwear...

"One way or another... Gibbo deserves the boot."

Robin Cannon
22 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:38:20
I think that’s a really considered and balanced viewpoint of Bill’s history at the club.

"Sadly, this squandered opportunity will haunt Bill and future generations of Blues."

That’s always the saddest thing, and the biggest thing that’s held us back. The King’s Dock, with an Everton stadium dominating the Liverpool skyline... it makes me depressed every time I think about what could have been.

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 15/01/2016 at 18:59:00
Steve (#4) and Tony(#14) – you both echo my sentiments on a very readable article.

Happy New Year Elizabeth and David, wishing you lots of good health and happiness, we might all see you both at Wembley this season (twice, I hope).

David Greenwood
24 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:06:30
Great read.
Martin Mason
25 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:06:36
I share her sentiments entirely as, I believe, do the overwhelming majority of Everton fans.
Amit Vithlani
26 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:25:53
"Another cracking drive by Gibson! He swerved it in, delivering a knock out blow."
Patrick Murphy
28 Posted 15/01/2016 at 20:28:48

I think Mrs France was being extremely diplomatic and very kind to Mr Kenwright, but she also alluded to his showmanship which from my perspective is the reason that he is not loved by all Evertonians, because many of us prefer straight talking no nonsense people to run, manage and play for Everton FC.

Flowery language without anything substantial to back it up is of no use and often causes more problems than it solves. But we are all different and perhaps Bill’s time will be looked upon more favourably in 20 years time.
John Daley
29 Posted 15/01/2016 at 21:57:53
Another go at a caption (yep, I'm that bored):

It slowly dawned on Terry and Tommy, the oppositions top secret weapon Siamese twin strikers, that they could have saved a bloody fortune on surgeons fees.....if only they'd twigged sooner that all they had to do to ensure total separation was wander around the general vicinity where Darron Gibson was last seen wetting his beak.

Darryl Ritchie
30 Posted 15/01/2016 at 23:42:31
Me too, John;

"Yes, I understand that Gibson was a bit tipsy, what I don’t understand is, how the hell did he manage to get his car onto the pitch?"

Darryl Ritchie
31 Posted 16/01/2016 at 06:58:49

"I’ve got to admit, Gibson gets more than a little mean when he gets a snootful... but he still can’t score."

That’s it. Last one.

Jeff Armstrong
32 Posted 16/01/2016 at 09:01:38
A fantastic read and a bit of perspective amongst our normal gnashing of teeth and moaning.

It’s a pity the Frances aren’t billionaires really, oh well, keep playing the Powerball... you never know!
Martin Mason
33 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:01:05
Patrick @28, that is one interpretation but one that I don’t share. For me, what she says is in very clear English and needs no searching for hidden meaning or confirmation bias. She clearly has great respect for BK as all Evertonians should. A very small minority don’t but that is their problem – not Bill Kenwright’s.
Michael Winstanley
34 Posted 16/01/2016 at 11:51:03
Great article, Lyndon. Lady France is articulate and astute, a pleasure to read.

Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:06:48
Martin, it’s not a problem for me to dislike Kenwright. I know why I dislike the Everton chairman and it’s not a problem for me if people like him; each to their own.
Tony Hill
36 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:20:48
Martin, as well as respect for Kenwright, Mrs France points out that he has stayed too long and did not properly exploit the club’s commercial opportunities, notably the Kings Dock which, like many of us, she clearly regards as a calamitous episode. Hardly an unqualified tribute.
Winston Williamson
37 Posted 16/01/2016 at 12:24:08
In terms of Kenwright I’ve decided to concentrate on the future. It does my heart no good to think of the lies, deceit and incompetence. Although, this decision is made all the more easier due to the likelihood of us being sold.

That being said... I don’t argue the case against Kenwright by trying force my opinion or tell other people how the should view a person. If you have respect for someone, then fine, tell people why you have respect for someone, but don’t tell me I should have respect for that person just because you do! Or just because I support the same team. My dislike is my dislike – in much the same way as your respectfulness is your respectfulness.

Martin Mason
38 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:01:14
Tony, I didn’t say it was an unqualified tribute and nor do people like me give him unqualified support. What I did say was that he couldn’t achieve the impossible and King’s Dock was impossible for us, whatever some may believe.

He hasn’t taken Everton to the next level for the same reason that he’s stayed too long for many. There have been no suitable opportunities to either sell the club outright or to get the right sort of investment so obviously his self-declared caretakership has extended longer than even he wanted.

I believe that we’re in a vastly better place now than we were pre-Bill; has he been perfect? No of course not because we’ve been revenue limited. Could others have done better under the same restrictions? Only pure conjecture would unequivocally say yes.

Nick Entwistle
39 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:25:50
It was a good read, but ultimately a puff piece for Boys Pen Bill. If loving the club is all you needed to qualify to run it, then... etc etc.

Brian Denton
40 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:41:33
Nick 39, an interesting comment in the light of this, sent to Villa season ticket holders in the last day or so:
Dear ***************,

It is a privilege for me to take the Chair of Aston Villa albeit we are witnessing one of the most difficult periods in the Club’s history. It is perhaps this challenge to help turnaround our Club’s fortunes that persuaded me that I could, as Chairman, make a contribution that will help lead the Club to better times.

My background is working in and leading large complex people businesses. I started my career in Birmingham over 30 years ago and then worked in London and extensively overseas. My job has been to drive change and bring out the best in talented individuals.

So when Randy first approached me to see if I would be interested in Chairing the Club my initial reaction was that whilst this is very flattering to be considered for this role I am not a football man and I must politely decline. However, Randy was very clear the Club does not need a football man as its Chairman, it needs someone who is proven at driving change in large complex organisations. The rest is history.

I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge that lies ahead and I am also clear that the problems we face now have been in the making for the past five years. I am also clear that the long term solution to the Club’s future rests in building a stable high quality team on and off the field and I look forward to working with Tom Fox and Remi Garde to deliver this.

The Premier League business model has and is changing. The skills gap in the 20 clubs first team squads is narrowing every year. Well run so called small Clubs have no fear from so called big Clubs. This trend will continue and the Clubs that will prosper will be those that have hard work and great attitude at the core of their values. A proud heritage has no respect in a very competitive market – whatever the business. Money no longer buys success, our future lies in a passion for excellence and standards that will not accept anything but the best. A winning culture is addictive and this is one habit I want to see back in this great Club.

For this culture change to be successful you have a key role to play. Frankly given the Club’s performance in recent years and months the frustration and emotional outpouring seen over the last few weeks is understandable. You want to see improvement. More than this you rightly demand to see improvement.

As the new Chairman I ask you to please keep supporting the team. You are the 12th man and when confidence is low do not underestimate the critical role you will play. Together we can drive the change we all want to see in our Club’s fortunes. Whatever happens to the Club this season our job is to build a culture that we can all be very proud of and a culture that will deliver sustainable outperformance. I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at the forthcoming games.

Steve Hollis

Management-speak drivel, of questionable literacy, and using dog-whistle expressions like ’driving change’ and ’passion for excellence’. I should imagine Elstone probably feel some affinity with this shite, but I don’t. Give me Blue Bill and Goodison Park every day of the week.

Nick Entwistle
41 Posted 16/01/2016 at 13:53:44
Brian, well, I'm sure there are some 'blue-sky-thinking' chairman out there doing a great job also.

Lee Brownlie
42 Posted 17/01/2016 at 00:48:54
Caption: 'Thought Gibson was coming on as sub, not in his car!!'

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