Everton Football Club Co Ltd's Annual General Meeting of Shareholders for 2017 took place at the Philharmonic Hall this evening.
In attendance were Chairman Bill Kenwright, major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, team manager Sam Allardyce and the Everton Board of Directors while CEO Robert Elstone updated shareholders on the club's financial performance since the last General Meeting.
That includes record turnover and a £30m profit thanks largely to player sales and the massive Premier League broadcast deals.
The Annual Report and Statement of Accounts for 2017, which can be downloaded and reviewed from this website detailed the extent of Moshiri's investment in Everton FC which included part repayment and consolidation of the club's debts, squad improvement and further development of the Finch Farm training complex.
For further analysis of the accounts from Everton supporter Paul (@theesk on Twitter), click here.
After initial opening remarks from Kenwright, Elstone began the meeting in earnest and confirmed that news of the proposed stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock would be the third item on the agenda. That was followed by a video review of 2017.
The financial review highlighted the fact that the club benefited from the first year of the £8bn 2016-2019 Premier League broadcast deals which account for almost 80% of the club's revenue.
Commercial performance has been enhanced by the new sponsorship deals with USM at Finch Farm, shirt sponsor SportPesa, and the sleeve advertising deal with Angry Birds.
Finally, the club's ability to repay debt and fund incoming transfers — Elstone said that, "for every pound we received from player sales, we spent two" — was enhanced by a £105m interest-free loan from Moshiri that was increased to £150m and the lending facilities arranged with ICBC and Santander.
Revenue for the 2017-18 season is forecast to be £186.5m, an increase of around £15m on this past financial year. Wages are expected to rise to £140m, almost double the 2014-15 level.
Thus far, Everton have spent £9.1m on securing the site at Bramley-Moore Dock for the new stadium plus associated design and planning preparations. Elstone cautioned that while the club is "committed and optimistic" about the new stadium project there are "escalating costs".
He said that the Board is close to finalising a deal whereby two-thirds of the development costs will be funded by the investment vehicle created by Liverpool City Council that will provide the club access to lower-interest loan facilities.
Work on how to finance the final third is "ongoing". The construction is projected to start in a year's time and will take three years to complete, allowing for Everton to kick off the 2022-23 season in their new home if all goes to plan.
Via a pre-recorded video, architect Dan Meis spoke of his involvement in the design and planning phase of the project: “It's become an unusually passionate protect for me and a career defining one.”
He said he wants to create a unique building without losing the intimacy and power of being close to the pitch that Goodison Park provides.
“The fan- and football-first attitude has been at the core of what we're doing," Meis explained. "Everyone is excited and supportive. This is not just a building for a football club, it's a home for generations of fans.
"We have the opportunity to do something which hasn't been done with other buildings (stadiums) in the Premier League."
Mayor Joe Anderson spoke next and he began by announcing that Everton In The Community is to be awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool to mark its 30 years in operation.
He then went on to say that Peel's development of the north Liverpool docks area was projected to take 30 years but that Everton's new stadium will help accelerate the regeneration of the area. Liverpool City Council will benefit enormously and the project should create around 10,000 jobs, he declared.
"It isn't a good deal for Liverpool City Council, it's a fantastic one," he said. "Secondly it will be a deal which benefits Everton. It's now about due diligence.
“And in answer to the critics, if it was Liverpool Football Club coming and talking to me in the same vein, of course we'd be doing it.”
Deputy CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale then took the mic and explained that, having outgrown its offices at Goodison Park, the club's administrative staff will be relocating to the Liver Building, which was purchased by Moshiri, by the end of 2018.
"By the end of 2018 the city will well and truly be all ours," she quipped.
Additionally, she explained that Goodison Park has been registered as a community asset and will be used for community benefit "for generations to come".
Everton plan to use the site for health, education and housing. A research plan is underway for three tower blocks to be built on the site, "one facing Anfield, one facing Goodison Park and one facing Bramley-Moore Dock.
Sam Allardyce and Steve Walsh then took over, with the manager declaring that Seamus Coleman is back in training but that Leighton Baines remains some way off fitness.
The Director of Football defended the club's inability to replace Romelu Lukaku last summer saying, "We made several attempts to sign strikers. I've got a list of others that other clubs signed who weren't successful. We did try.“
Allardyce continued: “My position short-term [for the club] is survival. Long-term it is to build a team of the future to go into that fantastic new stadium.”
Kenwright and Moshiri
The Chairman and major shareholder then took turns addressing the audience. Kenwright thanked the billionaire for being someone who "always says yes" and for opening up a world [of opportunity] for Everton.
“There were long sagas over those summer transfers but the good news was we did bring each and every one of them under the value which was placed on them."
Moshiri, meanwhile, admitted that the Board needed to take action when the season was collapsing under former manager Ronald Koeman:
"We didn't exceed expectations. I hoped to finish sixth. Not doing that cost us dear in that we had to go into the [Europa League] qualifiers. Confidence was lost and we really got into a mess. We had to take action.
"As a converted Blue and owner of Everton, [I can say] we regained our pride. We positioned ourselves not exactly among the elite but on the periphery.
"We didn't lose confidence in Ronald — and he didn't lose the dressing room — but sometimes you need change.
"With the mess we were in, we needed a manager with a tidy football brain — uncomplicated, self-assured and with a lot of experience."
During questions from the floor, two shareholders probed further about Romelu Lukaku to which Moshiri replied:
"I wasted two summers [trying] to keep him. Last summer, we offered him a better deal than Chelsea. Whatever they offered, we matched but he didn't want to stay.
"If I told you what we offered Lukaku, you wouldn't believe me. His agent came to Finch Farm to sign the contract then Lukaku phoned his mother who was on a pilgrimage to Africa and there was some sort of voodoo that said he had to sign for Chelsea. What can you do?"
"We live in this world where very young men start with an agent that becomes their parent. They dominate the brain, attitude, what they do. The club does whatever it can but ultimately it's the agents they rely on."
Speaking of Ross Barkley who joined Chelsea over the weekend, Moshiri admitted it was tough to lose a homegrown talent.
"Ross was the one, the local boy, that we thought we wouldn't lose," he said. "Bill was very confident but he didn't want to stay.
"We had Lukaku, Stones and Barkley. Losing Ross was the most painful. We don't really want to keep players who don't want to wear the shirt. But it's not financial.
"For 6 months, we couldn't find [Ross's] agent. Bill Kenwright miraculously got an offer of £35m for him, but he didn't want to go when he was injured. Sam Allardyce spoke to him, but he wouldn't stay.”
Another question challenged Moshiri on the club's PR strategy and his perceived use of TV and radio presenter Jim White as a mouthpiece doesn't make use of Everton's communications department.
"As it happens, Jim White is a friend of mine so sometimes late at night he calls me. If we've had a bad game, I'm upset and he gets to me. All the conversations are between friends and shouldn't appear on Sky or on Twitter. It won't be happening again!"