An Alternative View

By Mike Fisher 19/08/2015  0 Comments  [Jump to last]
We live in a country where we are all allowed to have an opinion and more importantly the ability to express it. There is no right or wrong here because the one thing we can probably all agree on is that Everton FC is as tight as a drum when it comes to facts. I don't know what is true when it comes to the well documented failings that some supporters blame squarely on the Everton Board of Directors, and in particular on Bill Kenwright.

What I do know from a life time in business is what works with investors and what doesn't. I also know that investors come in all shapes and sizes and like Forrest Gump quoted about his box of chocolates "You never know what you are going to get"!

The ideal scenario is the 'benevolent benefactor' blessed with billions, a love of the club, and a desire to pump his cash into a dream. If one exists, I think they may well have come forward by now.

The less ideal scenario is every other potential investor out there. By default, investors invest to make money. They look for value and an angle on how they can make an acceptable return. For all the well documented reasons, Everton does not present value as we need a new ground and we still carry debt. No viable angle and so I ask the obvious question: Why would a serious investor want to invest in what we have right now?

Is there no future? — you may ask. The key in my previous paragraph is 'right now'. Not ever or in a million years! What we need is value and an angle. Also, an observation: No future investors will touch us with a bargepole unless we are seen to have a loyal, supportive, and engaged fanbase. Sorry, guys, but protests, subversion, and militancy are massive turn-offs for a new investor and perhaps more importantly for the ones already on the Board.

We already have some serious investors on the board so a good question any potential investor might ask is: Why do these guys keep their hands in their pockets? What do they know that we don't? It's a good question because frankly only they know and they are relentlessly quiet. Perhaps they are sitting on A Pandora's Box best kept tightly closed... Or they are simply pissed at being blamed by an unappreciative fanbase.

Let's not forget that the Board of Directors have a significant financial investment in Everton that they firstly do not want to lose and secondly hope to one day make a significant return on. Don't expect anything less as they got involved for the same reason that a new investor would. It's just business to them, apart from Mr Kenwright who is — apart from his personal lack of mega cash — the perfect owner. I know many will disagree, but if anyone can give me the name of a real alternative, then I will happily revisit my statement. Perhaps they can also give me the winning numbers for the Euro lottery on Friday?

I am not looking to make fun, but seriously when I read about getting rid of the Board and replacing them with a mystery new investor who will invest £400M in a new stadium, replace the manager with a Champions League winner, and give them an unlimited budget for players I chuckle. Especially when the only thing apparently holding us back is Bill's reluctance to sell!

Okay, the current Board are not perfect because I can't deny some of the criticism, especially in regard of some of the poor commercial decisions made. We have not built value and we have not made the most of our heritage, but let's look forward, not back.

I have become very aware of mass negativity with some supporters. It's not pretty and it's not helpful, so please consider if making a noise is really anything more than fanning the flames of despair.

We need a team that can win a trophy, get into Europe, and win the games that really matter. We need to drop the tag of being nearly successful and turn up for the big games. The new wave of football fans in Asia and the USA do not look to support a Grand Old Team... they support winning teams and buy the shirt.

We need a better commercial team to build upon the world audience that the Premier League attracts. These supporters will travel to games, stay in hotels, and spend their money on the experience, but the Grand Old Lady is tired and the facilities are far from appealing. The Board need to find a new stadium with a view to a long-term investment or a short-term sale. At the same time, they need to give serious investigation into a modern infrastructure that can fully support the team.

As supporters, we need to find the strength to take the emotion out of how we feel and go with common sense. Again contentious, but let me pose a question: There will hopefully always be a superstar emerging from the Everton Academy or astute buying from the lower leagues. Today, it is John Stones; two years ago, it was Ross Barkley; and in future... who knows. The emotion says we do not sell, but we are a business and every asset has a value and if another team is prepared to pay over value then commerciality dictates you consider selling and reinvest. Not always, but not never either.

The reality is that the solution for our woes is not easily delivered, but perhaps Board and fans would all sleep more easily knowing there is a plan. A business model for the club, and a team strategy on the pitch that all parties could unite behind with a clear vision for the future. Whether that be with the current Board or new investors, the long-term requirements are the same.

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