Club or Corporation?

Maybe it’s time to redefine “the Everton Way”? Maybe it’s time for realism rather than idealism.

Paul The Esk 12/06/2019 44comments  |  Jump to last
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So much of Everton’s media is caught up in our past. Not only media, not only fan generated content, but the ethos of the club and the business itself.

We all refer to our past, we all reminisce, amplify and rejoice in those past moments when either the club or individuals associated with us are momentarily at the top of the game.

There’s no doubt about our historical relevance to the game, our role in developing professional football, our founding credentials, our history of innovation… so many firsts, so many players and individuals (Dean, Lawton, Wilson, Ball, Southall, Rooney and many more) that trip off the tongue, managers such as Catterick and Kendall, the pre-eminence of administrators in the national game such as Will Cuff and more recently one of the leading lights in the formation of the Premier League, Sir Phillip Carter.

We talk, as did Denise Barrett-Baxendale in the early weeks of her becoming CEO, of the “Everton Way”. Whatever the “Everton Way” is — and it is different to many people, the truth is that it is no guarantee of regular and sustained occupation of the winner’s circle. Despite our pedigree, our history shows only periodic success at best and long periods of drought in between.

Being objective and analytical, we have only won trophies in 13 seasons out of 120. A success rate of 10.8%. That compares to 24.1% for Liverpool and 29.3% for Manchester United. There are of course, factors, “black swans” which may have contributed such as the onset of two World Wars whilst Champions and the wholly unjust consequences of the Heysel disaster in 1985.

So, what is the Everton Way?

I’m sure if I spoke to the major shareholders, Directors and others of influence in the media and involved in the club, their opinions would use words and expressions such as “excellence, innovation, hard work, community, loyalty, academy, a special club, once Everton has touched you” et cetera. I’m equally sure that many of them would truly believe that this was representative of our club today.

All of which may be considered fine and noble, but if these values or expressions of values are true both in relative and absolute terms, why haven’t we won more, both in the past and particularly more recent times? Why, despite Moshiri’s hundreds of millions, do we limp to 8th place and make the cup auto ticketing scheme almost redundant for season ticket holders?

Maybe it’s time to redefine “the Everton Way”? Maybe it’s time for realism rather than idealism. Time to take the blue-tinted glasses off. Maybe it’s time to examine the short- and medium-term objectives of the club and ask ourselves “are they ambitious enough?” and secondly “do we have the people and resources to get us there?”

I write this as someone who loves the club. However, I want us to redefine ourselves. Critically I don’t want to hear “a return to former glories” because I think that is too limiting. I want to hear that we are a progressive, professional and global organisation that fully resources a highly successful football team that competes for trophies and European honours.

In preparing this article, I listened to a speech made by our CEO at Liverpool Hope University. It was Denise Barrett-Baxendale’s inaugural Professorial Lecture in April 2018, just before she formally took the role of Everton’s CEO. The speech was interesting, exploring the idea whether football clubs use their community programmes as a means of good PR rather than being wholly committed to benefiting those less fortunate in their local communities. Denise, as you would expect, made an excellent and compelling case for Everton in the Community.

Not a corporation, a club

However, from my perspective and from the perspective of wanting greater success, the most interesting point she made was the following: “Everton is not a corporation, we are a club”.

I was surprised initially, but then I thought about it a bit more, and those few words describe better than anything I’ve heard previously how we view ourselves, and ultimately why we are in the position we are in.

In a football world dominated by corporations run by senior business people, officers representing Nation States, global communicators and commercial experts, we see ourselves as ‘a club’.

If we define the “Everton Way” in that context, it is clearly very different from the manner in which our competitors operate and think of themselves. The question I’d like to pose the board, the executive team and indeed particularly Farhad Moshiri is can we succeed as a club? Can a club compete with what are rapidly becoming global corporations?

In January 2017, Farhad Moshiri, when addressing shareholders, said the following “It’s not enough to say you are a special club and a great club, we don’t want to be a museum.” He rightly received the plaudits and widespread praise from media and fans alike. But the question must be asked whether those fine words have ever been followed through?

Moshiri is clearly financially committed to the club (possibly more so than he might have hoped), but is he committed to forcing through the cultural and organisational changes that are required (i) to make good that investment and (ii) provide the future I described earlier in the article “we are a progressive and professional organisation that fully resources a highly successful football team that competes for trophies and European honours”?

How can we possibly hope to compete with corporations that fund the teams we play against each week without a similar resource provider and winning, competitive ethos that arises from successful corporations populated by ambitious individuals?

Being a “special and great” club is not enough. They’re not my words – they’re the words of the majority shareholder.

What is the solution?

Simply, we need to think and act like a corporation – a business that has the sole purpose of generating the resources to make the team a great success. In fact, more successful than we’ve ever been before, and ultimately more successful than those already much better resourced than we are.

Surely, the major shareholder Farhad Moshiri, who is pumping hundreds of millions into Everton, should expect no less? I don’t know a single successful entrepreneur or business owner that doesn’t want to be the very best in their chosen field. Why would Moshiri be any different in that respect?

I appreciate some will argue vehemently that being a “club” is hugely important and that, by being smarter in the future, somehow we will compete once more against those with greater resources. That we don’t need to be another corporation?

The truth, backed by evidence, is that the best resourced clubs win more frequently than the less resourced (this is not just a recent phenomena). Our future objective must be to achieve greater success, more frequently than in the past – to close the achievement gap between us and others. We can only do that by being better resourced, in capital, cash, strategic thinking and ultimately people.

In short, by being a corporation – not just a club. Having targets that stretch and challenge, achieving the seemingly impossible of building resources that build a competitive winning team, greater in every sense than others.

Do we risk losing anything by this? Not in my opinion – enjoying the most successful periods of Everton’s history in the present and future must be so much more rewarding than just reliving our past. Otherwise, to use Moshiri’s words, we are a “museum”.

The challenge is there, build a corporation that makes Everton Football Club enjoy its most successful period ever, and even more, enjoy success that is sustainable. This is Moshiri’s challenge.

Follow @theesk


Reader Comments (44)

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Dennis Stevens
1 Posted 12/06/2019 at 20:40:26
Hear! Hear! Well put, Paul. To be successful in the business of football we must, without doubt, become a more successful business. If our CEO's effectiveness with Everton in the Community is repeated in her current role we will be dining at the top table sooner rather than later, imo.
Martin Mason
2 Posted 12/06/2019 at 20:51:05
She is incorrect. Everton isn't a club, it's a corporation.
Dermot Byrne
3 Posted 12/06/2019 at 21:15:37
Great article and bang on.

Sadly I hate the idea that I support a corporation and increasingly feeling daft doing so.

Many comments on fora of Everton fans and other corporation's fans seem to talk more about business acumen than the game. We all seem to get drawn into commenting on business transactions, accounts and shareholders interests.

In my remaining years I will be watching most games and of course celebrate if we win something.

But somewhere in my brain a little voice will laugh and ask if I could have even more reasons to celebrate if I supported Microsoft or some hedge fund.

Andy Crooks
4 Posted 12/06/2019 at 21:43:09
Excellent stuff, Paul. What do we want as supporters? For me it is very hard to define. I love Morecambe FC for reasons that are intensely personal. Do Morecambe supporters see themselves as a club or a corporation? Were they, like us, chosen?
I somehow see the supporters of lower division clubs as respected amateur connoisseurs. We are professional fans, always looking at the money angle, at the Champions League and the money it will bring us.
I love this club, what it means, what it does and the fantastic supporters. It takes up way to much of my time and thoughts, but..that is how it is. Maybe I will retire to Morecambe. I guess though, they feel the same as us. Being a supporter is insane.
Mike Gaynes
5 Posted 12/06/2019 at 21:57:19
Paul, thanks for a thought-provoking article.

I would offer this alternate view of what constitutes a club vs. a corporation, and I think it can be found in your repeated use of the word "success" -- and the fact that you don't precisely define it.

Is success determined on the pitch only? If so, then I believe we are a club -- a corporate entity, but still a club.

The primary objective of a corporation is to make money for its shareholders. By definition, the more money a corporation makes, the more successful it is.

But a football club, no matter how financially successful, cannot really be viewed as a success unless it wins games, titles, silverware... am I right? ManUtd is by far the most profitable football organization on the planet, but they finished sixth and City won the title. Which is more "successful"???

I think Everton, and any football club, is something of a hybrid -- its decisions driven by finances, but its successes defined between those white lines.

Andrew Ellams
6 Posted 12/06/2019 at 22:30:44
Mike, is success only determined in the short term? I get that it seems to be the way but the RS that seem to be obsessed with baiting Utd fans about finishing 6th have very short memories are still 3 trophies to 1 down since Fergie retired.

Football is more than just winning trophies. Were I grew up I went to school with lads who supported clubs like Preston and Bolton, now my nearest club is Luton and all of those fans will argue their places in history as much as any.

Paul Birmingham
7 Posted 12/06/2019 at 23:06:30
A very good article Paul. Football has always been a business and now it seems albeit 27 years after the EPL started EFC, is being managed as a business but as you say not a standard business but a corporation.

EFCs history is but the reality is we haven’t been consistent and are in a wretched barren run.

Hopefully soon our fortunes will turn. To have success and consistency and grow the team year on year is a dream bu5 it can be done.

Let’s see what this preseason yields.

Paul Birmingham
8 Posted 12/06/2019 at 23:06:30
A very good article Paul. Football has always been a business and now it seems albeit 27 years after the EPL started EFC, is being managed as a business but as you say not a standard business but a corporation.

EFCs history is but the reality is we haven’t been consistent and are in a wretched barren run.

Hopefully soon our fortunes will turn. To have success and consistency and grow the team year on year is a dream bu5 it can be done.

Let’s see what this preseason yields.

Don Alexander
9 Posted 12/06/2019 at 23:49:07
I know there are a few who will roll their eyes when they see my name, and the more so when they realise my target, yet again, is Kenwright, but can anyone at all indicate just what that decade-after-decade failure in charge of our club, still unbelievably given a senior role by Moshiri, has ever done that would have made irrelevant The Esk's pointed and truthful summary?

Ignorant as I am as to how mere accountants make rapacious former Soviet "businessmen" wealthy beyond imagination, that very question occurred to me when Farhad bought in. "Where's his "original" football/money-making experience" in short?

Thus far he's only been torn a financial new one given his allegiance to his advisers, Kenwright on football matters being to the fore according to him.

Is it too ridiculous to suggest that he gets rid of the muppet that brought Everton down so far from being a founding father of the Premier League itself that we now, collectively post-Kenwright, crave "Top Six" as a measure of success?

Is it too simplistic, as a starter point admittedly, to get rid of every vestige of the staff that contributed, knowingly or not, to the longest ever barren spell in the club's far diminished history as a winning entity?

Gerry Morrison
10 Posted 12/06/2019 at 23:59:05
I would like to think that we are a club, first and foremost; and I dread the day when we adopt the lingo of our American cousins and start referring to ourselves as a franchise.
Derek Thomas
11 Posted 13/06/2019 at 01:38:46
Semantics. But The Esk is essentially right Re. our performance. For the last 100yrs our average League position is 8th/9th.

Were the footballing equivalent of the 'Girl with the curl' - when we're good we're very, very, good and when we're bad - we're Horrid (with some 8th/9th-ish boring bits in between).

But I'm of the mind that on field success leads to commercial success...the hard part is priming the money pump to get the first.

We're too nice, we have deep vein Institutionalised mediocrity. Until that goes even Moyes's 7th -ish Trophy haul is not likely to be overtaken.

Like some year one cultural revolution dictatorship, the 'Everton That' softies need to be sent out into the fields to dig...but inside me there is a voice saying - is that the sort of thing we need as a Club. And there is the paradox.

Solve that and were on our way.

Jamie Crowley
12 Posted 13/06/2019 at 04:13:00
Gerry @ 10 -

As an American, I concur 100%!

Club first, franchise / corporation second for me.

But I'd defer to the wiser, homegrown Blues as to what's best for the Club / Organization / Corporation / Team.

Is it wrong to not want to be a Sheik bazillion team? I don't want that. I want a team who challenges, runs things professionally and well, and has its roots in Liverpool and with the community. Not a Middle Eastern play-thing of a sports toy.

I see Everton in that light, and it's one of the reasons I want some success in the end for the Club. Because in my book, not that anyone is reading my book mind you, but in my book, that's the best thing.

It's something to be proud of. And that's the road less travelled, but so damn precious.

Alan J Thompson
13 Posted 13/06/2019 at 06:14:45
Why must everything become a choice. Can Everton not be all those things, EitC, Bluebloods etc while fully understanding that the core business is football, what happens on the pitch that must necessarily make a profit to ensure existence. Even if those off field activities became nothing more than bodies to whom we donated funds it would still depend on profits generated or maximized, in the main, by results on the field.

Do those other off field activities depend on who is seen as the Owner or Major Shareholder and would any of it necessarily change if we became a listed stock?

Stan Schofield
14 Posted 13/06/2019 at 08:16:05
When I was a kid I knew that Everton was 'Everton Football Club Company Ltd'. I knew it was both a business and a 'club', the latter in the sense of belonging to something important. To some inside the business, obviously making money is the primary objective, but to the supporters the primary objective is winning matches, preferably in great style in the 'Everton tradition' I grew up with in the 60s. Even as a kid I knew that the business of making money was necessary to achieve success on the pitch.

These are the essential obvious facts to me as a supporter. Everything else is peripheral talking for the sake of talking.

For us supporters, all that matters is success on the pitch in sportsmanlike style. The business side is just a means to this end.

Brent Stephens
15 Posted 13/06/2019 at 08:22:02
A corporation, a club and a tribe. My emotions are not for a corporation. And my emotions for the club in effect are the emotions of being part of a tribe.

Long live the tribe. And sod that other tribe.

Thomas Lennon
16 Posted 13/06/2019 at 09:50:32
For me, a modern PL team must be a corporation encapsulating football, club, charity, community, sustainability, making money, a 'brand'.

The club is a product that the company sells to the fans, underpinned by football, charity, community. Fans have a form of 'moral ownership' that is different from shareholding, most people who attend matches will be fans, but not all. Increasingly we will see 'customers' who are not fans but are paying guests.

The 'Brand' is that thing that is Everton FC that we can sell to groups & businesses outside of us, the community. It is a value that outside concerns will pay for. Our current Brand is not top 6, consequently, we cannot get top 6 prices (https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/sport/football/football-news/evertons-brand-value-decreases-see-14642935). BMD improves the brand significantly but other aspects of business also need to be in place for us to catch up, not just success on the pitch.
I would applaud our charity work and profile as something that strongly supports our Brand in a very cost-effective way. Faced with much better off neighbours it is an asset to be able to attract attention like this. It also supports our fanbase at a time when our young people have difficult choices to make!

If those who have managed the club over the last 30 years have got something wrong, it is that they have focussed too much on the football in the PL era. To be fair they have often been firefighting relegation, but football is the product, not the business and our business expertise has lagged behind those of our competitors. We have been the first to do so many things on the field, we now need to innovate off the field with the same energy and imagination. Goodison Park is a limitation, not an excuse to stop trying.

Pat Kelly
17 Posted 13/06/2019 at 10:54:45
Personally I prefer reading the sports pages to the Financial Times. There is something coldly impersonal about
how big corporations treat their customers. There is no connection other than a financial one. I'd rather be proud of the Club than admire the Corporation.
Thomas Lennon
18 Posted 13/06/2019 at 12:39:04
#17 I get what you say Pat, and if we were getting all aspects right and had a successful team, few would be bothered about business matters. However, the same fans are prone to complaining why we can't get a £75 million shirt deal to support our first team as others can - the reasons are not due to how passionately we love our club.

In a way, we might say that the passion Kenwright feels for the club is part of the problem. Perhaps he has cared less about building our brand than he has about looking after the club. We need both to go forward. I don't really care so much if Moshiri/Usmanov love our club as long as they build a winning club, and one that looks after its community. If that is just to sell on at a profit then so be it.

David Pearl
19 Posted 13/06/2019 at 13:21:00
I kind of don't get this at all. We don't have any more right to success than any other team. The game has changed a lot as we all know the last few years and its important that the club stay involved in the community and continues its generosity towards causes. BK has stayed on as chairman for the time being as Moshiri is reshaping the board and direction of the club, because he has the finances and knowledge to do so. BMD will put us back on the map, if the team hasn't already done so. As I said. I don't get it.
David Pearl
20 Posted 13/06/2019 at 13:33:56
And Don 9. You've reinvented history. So we were always top 6 pre kenwright and never top 6 since? I think you will find that since Moshiri come in we went down because of bad recruitment, instead of up. Now we are on the rise again. Up the workers!
John Raftery
21 Posted 13/06/2019 at 13:42:26
We must be both. Paul’s words at the beginning of the third paragraph from the end of his article, ‘corporation not just a club’ sum up what we need. Any organisation with a turnover approaching £200m must be run as a corporation with all the appropriate financial and human resource management disciplines in place.

Hi Andy (4) Morecambe serve the best pie in the country. I recommend the chicken, ham and leek pie with mushy peas, priced £3 when I was there a couple of years ago. For an extra 10p you can have gravy with it.

Peter Fearon
22 Posted 13/06/2019 at 13:51:47
The flaw in this thinking is that success is measured only in trophies at the end of the season. That is only one measure of success. Another is the entertainment offered by performances and the degree to which fans enjoy the experience of going to the match. That can only really be gauged by ticket sales, viewing figures and fan involvement. If winning a trophy at the end of the season was the only measure of success the vast majority of Premier League clubs (or corporations which they have been for decades), indeed all football clubs, would have gone out of business long ago, leaving the field to a handful of "successful" teams who play each other incessantly. The reality is that each and every game is its own discrete drama, capable of providing entertainment and catharsis. And that is what football is all about.
Jay Wood
[BRZ]

23 Posted 13/06/2019 at 14:07:05
I don't think this is a conundrum at all and judging by the responses nor do many other posters.

Mike Gaynes @ 5 sums it up well in differentiating between what constitutes 'success' in the corporate boardroom, as opposed to 'success' on the sports field for the club.

For the supporter, we are emotionally invested in the club. Our primary focus and interest is in how the team and individuals perform and the success they achieve on the pitch.

Supporters are not so dumb that they are unaware of, or indifferent to, the corporate side of a professional sports club that finances and determines the quality of player (and manager) we can bring to Everton.

As such, this is not an 'either-or' question; either we are a corporation or a club. Everton is a duality and both are dependent on the other: the corporation only exists because of the club, and the club is only sustained by the corporation.

So DB-B's comment the Esk bases his opening post on - “Everton is not a corporation, we are a club” - whilst a nice soundbite is, IMO, not a well-founded one.

Peter Mills
24 Posted 13/06/2019 at 14:53:45
Paul, your articles are normally very analytical, but this one seems a bit muddled.

Objectively, Everton Football Club does not have an unsuccessful history, even though we have not won a trophy since 1995, as our neighbours love to remind us. For example, we have played in the top division for 65 years, something only Arsenal can match. Now, subjectively, no supporter is happy with that in itself, least of all me, but most other clubs in the country would envy such a record.

Our history is important. Indeed, at times, the fact that my grandfather, father, brother, uncle, son, daughters, nephews, grandsons, friends, are part of that history is the only thing that has kept me going. There are few corporations able to claim such customer loyalty. It needs to be cherished, but we cannot live in that past.

It’s not a question of whether we are a club or a corporation, we can be successful however we are labelled. There is no reason why all the good things the Club does for the community cannot be allied to success on the pitch. But what type of success?

You say you want us to be fully geared up towards winning trophies and European honours. I would say those are two distinct things. We are capable of winning domestic trophies now, the League and FA Cups are attainable, but every year we scandalously throw away the opportunity. That would be my primary focus for the next few years - win one or two of them.

After that, to compete for European honours would require significant growth. There may be moves going on behind the scenes for that, with the stadium being part of it. Perhaps then we will become more corporate, but not, I hope, at the loss of all those good things for which we are widely admired.

Bill Griffiths
25 Posted 13/06/2019 at 15:35:08
I'm with Alan (#13), why can't we be both?

I love my club, I'm 68 and have supported them since I can remember from the age of 5 or 5.

I've seen trophies won and hope to see more won before I leave this mortal coil. However winning trophies is not the be and end all and if I was given another 100 years of life and told we would go another 100 years without a trophy, I would still support the mighty blues unequivocally.

I just love the whole experience of supporting out great club including the painful bits and other than winning a few trophies I don't wish them to change in any way.

Jay Harris
26 Posted 13/06/2019 at 15:42:26
Paul,
A very thought provoking article which highlights the need to review "The Everton way".

First of all I would concur with some other posters that a corporation, Club and community can be one and the same thing in fact I think it is essential that all 3 are on the same page.

A corporation that goes forward without the club and community on board may gain short term financial success but is doomed to long term failure.

The only way to be successful in all areas is to be excellent in all areas and better than the competition.

We are still very weak on our branding and commercial operations,we are certainly weak on the football front. Best of the rest is not good enough for a club with our history and a motto of NSNO. We need to get the media to change their view of "plucky ittle Everton" and remind them that we have won more league championships than Spurs, Man City and Chelsea.

To this end we still have major shortcomings in our structure. As others have said we need dynamic, ambitious leadership and pedigree. To this end Kenwright is a burden to carry and still has too much influence on the club, Moshiri for all his cash and willingness to invest is a lightweight in driving ambition forward. DBB for all her community work and intelligence is not one to lead a crusade, she is more a comforting figure to make sure things are done nicely.
We need a Levi type who has drive and ambition. We need to surround him or her with people of pedigree in football knowledge, forward thinking and major drive and passion.

The world is becoming a much smaller place and we need to be a player in the world market not just L4. The world should be our community and our ambition. "I am Spartacus" needs to become "I am an Evertonian".

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum (something BK seems to have forgotten).

Stan Schofield
27 Posted 13/06/2019 at 20:40:52
There's an obvious difference between 'quality' and 'quantity'. There's a similarly obvious difference in the numbers of trophies won and the style of winning trophies. In my opinion, brought up during the 60s Everton, the 'Everton Way' is one of quality over quantity. Quality is great football combined with sportsmanship.

The team with the Holy Trinity of Ball, Harvey and Kendall won only one trophy, the 69-70 title. But the quality of that side shone in a way that the quality of other sides who've won more trophies (including our neighbour's across the park) has not. That's why Ball, Harvey and Kendall are called the Holy Trinity, and why Goodison is the School of Science. Similarly, Alex Young is the Golden Vision, a player who's quality transcended normality.

We need to be at the top, but we need to do it with style, with quality. It is quality that makes people appreciate Man City over Liverpool, and it is quality that makes glorious memories.

Of course, winning a trophy in any style is a start, but glory really stems from doing it with quality. That's what the Everton Way was about when we were great, and it's what we should aim to repeat.

Business acumen (the Corporate way) is necessary to achieve this quality, but it is only a means to an end, which is the quality itself. Without it, football isn't worth watching.

Dave Williams
28 Posted 14/06/2019 at 10:28:40
Don,

You make some good points but I have always believed that our decline stemmed from the failure to build on our success in 1984-87. We didn't improve the ground, we wasted the Lineker money, very few worthwhile youngsters came through until Rooney almost 20 years later, we made awful managerial appointments and bought badly at excessive prices. We paid no attention to developing the commercial side of things and all this was before Kenwright.

By the time True Blue Holdings bought out Johnson, there was a sizeable debt, no support from the banks and a team which had almost been relegated twice. Moyes came in and the club stabilised to some degree miraculously getting into the Champions League in 2005. There was still insufficient money to develop the club until Moshiri arrived.

Okay, he has made poor decisions in hindsight, though many of us rejoiced at the appointment of Koeman and Walsh. Nevertheless, if you analyse their transfer dealings plus Silva and Martinez, and value the current squad, I don't think we would be too far away from break-even – albeit that some crazy salaries have been paid to underperforming players.

I am wandering away from the point so back to it: to make true progress, we have to become more corporate. I retired two months ago from a professional firm where I was one of 63 partners. When I became a partner, there were only 22 partners and the business has changed beyond recognition. Our ethos was always to be collegiate (as in club for the purposes of this thread) and resist the path of becoming corporate like the big boys in our profession. We prided ourselves on being human in our treatment of staff and indeed clients and this was the secret of our success in what was the mid-tier of the profession.

Things started to change as we entered into a couple of sizeable mergers and, with 700 staff on board, we found that our approach to running the business was becoming much more corporate. Stricter guidelines were observed as to how to run the practice, how to deal with staff and how to market the firm and we hit on a mix of collegiate and corporate which worked for everyone.

Moshiri is slowly turning the tanker that is EFC. Sasha has come in to oversee financials, a new marketing guy is in place who is no doubt salivating at the opportunities which will be available if BMD happens. We have a specialist on board in Colin Chong to work on BMD and Keith Harris is on the board of directors as he has great experience in financing a new stadium.

Let's also not forget that Moshiri clearly has exceptional skills of his own, having become a billionaire from relatively humble beginnings as an accountant – Usmanov would never have used him as an advisor if he was not exceptional in his field.

Any marketing specialist will tell you that to have a successful campaign you need a good product to market. First and foremost we need a successful team playing attractive football. That will get the media talking about us which will then get the kids interested in us. We need a couple of star players to generate shirt sales. A new stadium together with an attractive team will be a magnet for the corporate hospitality business and all of this will then attract the hefty sponsorship deals which we currently miss out on because neither our ground nor our playing performance are sufficiently attractive.

This is why Silva, Brands et al use the term “project” because it can't be turned around overnight. Moshiri is effecting change and we must become a corporation to progress albeit hopefully retaining our human approach to fans and the local community.

Paul Tran
29 Posted 14/06/2019 at 11:15:00
Main points here are that we need to be ruthlessly ambitious and crave/demand excellence in all aspects at all levels of EFC. In my view, the wonderful EITC is too often used as a fig leaf for the lack of ambition that drains us.

Changing any corporate culture takes years, but for me it’s the most important battle. When we're ruthless and successful, we'll be able to do far, far more for the community than we do now.

Jay Harris
30 Posted 14/06/2019 at 15:10:36
Dave,
You make some great points but I have to take issue with your assertion that Kenwright inherited "a sizeable debt".

This is a total fallacy spread by Kenwright.

As the accounts show he inherited a "Net asset" position which within two years he turned into a "net liability" with a figure of 30m going out of the club which some suspect was used to pay off Johnson but nevertheless Kenwright proceeeded to oversee the club making a loss in the majority of his first ten years reign despite selling Rooney for 30m.

One further point is that he never remortgaged his ghouse as he claimed and which one or two fans still believe.

I have no doubt that Kenwright loves the club but he loves himself and his position even more and his reluctance to let that go is what is and has been holding us back IMO.

Jay Wood
[BRZ]

31 Posted 14/06/2019 at 15:51:42
Dave @ 28, I really enjoyed your first-hand insight into keeping a happy balance between corporate and collegiate and how difficult it is to maintain as a business grows.

Without wishing the thread to become yet another BK-bashing opportunity, Jay Harris is correct in his numbers. To that it should also be remembered that BK has sat on the board since 1989, so he has very much been part of the inner circle, decision-making process and the direction the club has followed in the past 30 years of stagnation.

Thomas Lennon
32 Posted 14/06/2019 at 16:23:08
Jay #3 if I remember correctly Kenwright said something like as he had no money to invest he wanted all of Everton's assets out on the pitch. He sold off everything that wasn't bolted down to do that.

I think I am also right that we had not long spent £4.5 million on one player who spent an awful lot of time injured on big wages and we eventually released for nothing in 1999. That net asset position concealed a fair bit of underlying debt, we were living hand-to-mouth.

You have to admit it kept us up.

Jay Harris
33 Posted 14/06/2019 at 16:39:02
Thomas,
As far as the balance sheet is concerned there is no such thing as underlying debt so that is an incorrect assumption in fact the reverse is true we were due some money from underlying sales of players that cannot be put in the balance sheet and Kenwright had the benefit of that.

The only issue regarding debt at the time was the clubs overdraft facility which PJ had underwritten and Kenwright did not have the financial clout to do hence some very dodgy and expensive loans from his buddies.

The thing that should ring with every Evertonian is that Paul Gregg and his wife who had been lifelong friends were so concerned at Kenwright's running of the club that they asked him to resign and they would put the money up for KD.

Kenwright refused, put a few rumours around the media about the Gregg's and claimed he had a 15m investor (Fortress Sports fund anyone) and that he would have the cheque in the bank in the morning.

The rest is history but does sum up the lengths which BK would go to for personal gain and ego.

Until that cancer is removed from the boardroom I fear we will not progress as a club.

Thomas Lennon
34 Posted 16/06/2019 at 11:59:03
But then a balance sheet would not indicate future shortage of capital, just assets in a particular year. We were forced to sell Ferguson, pay off Bilic, search the world for a cheap emergency striker in January as we were sinking fast, buy stop gap players at the end of their careers such as Gascoigne, and an aging shampoo model for midfield to name but a few. Several expensive purchases failed to impress.

There was an urgent need for capital we didn't have to be invested in the pitch, hence the sell off of assets and a good decision as far as I am concerned. Thanks be to SuperKev we survived. Just.

Gerard McKean
35 Posted 17/06/2019 at 16:59:31
Apologies for coming late to this one.

Paul, I very much enjoy your articles dealing with football (and EFC in particular) finances. I'm not sure, however, that you make a clear argument in this article. Yes, EFC is a club. Yes, EFC is a business. Barcelona prides itself upon being "mes que un club" – more than a club – and it is this that is missing at Everton; an invisible but unbreakable bond between every person who wants Everton FC to be the great team on and off the field of play that it should be.

For your information and that of other TW posters, there is (or was) a written draft version of The Everton Way, which was developed over a period of time from about 2009-2014 in consultation with various groups. It was a statement of what should be the values shared by every person with Everton at their heart and, rather than being wishy-washy, it was intended to remind especially those people employed by the club of their responsibilities to Evertonians who pay to see their team. I used it as the basis of the successful bid to establish the Everton School.

Much of the reason why I felt I could no longer contribute at EFC was the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. There are those who can come up with fine soundbites but have no interest in the effort required to put them into action. In that sense, you are right; there is no Everton Way if people don't actually walk the walk.

James Marshall
36 Posted 18/06/2019 at 12:34:33
Personally, I believe the whole 'istory thing is part of our problem, especially with the supporters. I know it's seen as controversial to hold such a view, but Everton is a relic of a bygone age with our misty-eyed Chairman, and blue-tinted supporter glasses on all the time.

So what if we used to win a few things 30 years ago and beyond? I'm sick to death of supporting a club that used to be good. We're a mid-table, average team in the modern game, and nothing more. We haven't won shit for 30 years and we've been nearly run into the ground on a few occasions.

I'm 46 this year, and I can't see us winning the league again in my lifetime. We desperately need to modernise, drop all the songs from yesteryear, stop dwelling on our 'istory and actually become a modern club, and yes, a business. When we play at home, they play that God awful song at the end of games which just shows us up for the relic we are. Moshiri was right when he said Everton is a museum.

Mike Kehoe
38 Posted 23/06/2019 at 11:54:35
Since the introduction of Murdoch's filthy lucre, the game has become more commercial by necessity, as explored by others earlier in the thread. Obviously, the business model only goes so far in football as market forces do not really apply in the same way: you buy a loaf and it turns out to be dog shit, you don't go back; you put Allardyce in charge.

For me, the money has changed the entire character of everything connected to the game, none of it for the better, with social media consistently confirming that many involved are obscenely wealthy morally bankrupt fuckwits. There are also armies of ruthlessly corrupt parasitical agents that screw everything they can while sucking Satan's cock for whom words like loyalty are anathema: this is all the commercial influence.

I'm a socialist and not an economist and I struggle to understand how the likes of Abramovich and Co profit from throwing millions into the game: maybe football will fall out of favour in a similar fashion to boxing, a disgrace too far that will turn public opinion: Robbie Fowler molesting horses or Klopp advocating casual genocide, perhaps.

I was appalled listening to John Barnes endorsing the Tories in the eighties and disgusted by the fortunes paid to reward apathy and indifference: same as everyone else, I suppose.

I do feel proud to be a blue though, even when we are shite, and that is because – for as long as I can remember – our neighbours have encapsulated everything that is wrong with humanity. That maybe is a bit strong, but I think we all know what I mean: their overwhelming sense of entitlement, their vehement outrage at everything, and the commitment to ignorance that nurtures their hypocritical attitudes. So Suarez was a paragon of virtue when in red but a despicable horrible cheating little twat when he left.

I would be happy for Everton to be successful but not at the expense of its soul: most of the time, I would settle for mere competence. I will never see it, but I can't imagine Evertonians ever being as insufferable and ignorant following a period of success. Ultimately we have to hope that our sociopaths are more efficient than all the others, and that the finances remain strong to sustain the future.

I'm not one to point fingers because I do not know, but our leading boardroom sociopath has been Kenwright and that I feel explains a lot of our recent history.

And why do Man City have Hey Jude and we put up with It's a Grand Old Team?

Denis Richardson
39 Posted 23/06/2019 at 13:41:28
Interesting article, Paul.

In answer to your "Is Moshiri doing enough?" – I'd argue he is. It just takes time and patience. The club is moving towards a move to a new stadium and, with any luck, in 4-5 years time, we'll be playing in a larger brand new world-class stadium. This will go a long way with respect to boosting club revenues.

On the player front, he's backed the managers who've been here so far, albeit made mistakes in manager appointments. Hopefully Silva can prove it was worth chasing him so we can get some stability at squad level over the coming 2-3 seasons. This season is a big season for Silva as at least half the first team will be his players, who've also had a season to bed in. Barring anything disastrous (eg, 14th-17th place finish), he'll be allowed to continue his project but needs to show improvement year on year.

The main gripe I have with the club is the seeming indifference to the cup competitions. This goes back quite few years now. I get that prize money in the Premier League dwarfs that of the cups, but kids (ie, potential new fans) don't give a shit about prize money. If the club wants to increase its fan base, only success on the pitch will do this — and winning a domestic cup would give this a boost. It's no good moving into a much larger stadium if you can't fill it regularly. (I'm not from Liverpool and support the club due to the 80s success when I was little and my favourite colour was blue. But once bitten... I know a few people in their 30s and 40s like me.)

It's now approaching 25 years (!) since we last won a trophy, which is just ridiculous - I still can't believe it myself. We've only managed 1 single cup final appearance in that time, so it's not like we've tried and gotten close a few times. Our performance in the League Cup is nothing short of atrocious. We basically don't give a shit about this cup. The FA Cup has also been very poor, this being a cup in which we used to regularly reach semis and finals (I think we used to hold the most semi-final appearances with over 20 up to a few years ago).

The club needs to take its time to build up to potential top 4 status (or at least being a challenger) but there is no excuse in my mind for not giving the domestic cups more focus. Money seems to be the only aim and hence finishing as high in the Premier League as possible is the aim as each place is worth about £2m-£3m. But why can we not also focus on the cups? We're not in Europe so game overload can't be an excuse. You only need to win 4-5 games in each competition to get to Wembley.

Mike Galley
40 Posted 23/06/2019 at 14:15:50
Dennis #39,

You've touched on a particular bugbear of mine with regards to our football club. Trophies, Cups and the winning of them should be what every club aspires to.

I happen to believe that, by and large, we haven't really tried in the two domestic cups. Certainly the League Cup anyway. Fielding weakened teams, or the players not seeming to be fully prepared for these games, is something I believe we've been guilty of for a couple of decades.

I can remember going to Leeds away in the League Cup during the Moyes era. I think they where in whatever the 3rd division was called back then. Every Blue knew Leeds would be up for a bit of scalp-hunting that night. My heart sank when I heard our team news, and everyone on the couch knew how the game was going to play out. We got beat 3-0 I think.

Mike Keating
41 Posted 24/06/2019 at 20:22:01
Jay #33,

If it is true that Bill Kenwright turned down the opportunity to step down and allow the Greggs to fund the King's Dock, he cost us the best ground option of the lot, untold millions in lost revenue and fannying about with fees for alternative schemes.

I'm not simply jumping on the Kill Bill bandwagon – I'd like to know what the evidence is because, if it is true, you wonder how he can take his place in the director's box knowing that all around are dreaming about what might have been.

Tony Abrahams
42 Posted 24/06/2019 at 20:41:42
Jay @33,

Fortress Sports Fund, anyone? I remember watching the news and it showed Kenwright introducing this fella to the AGM.

My only thought was that the fella looked like an extra off Emerdale Farm, but what did I know?

Brian Murray
43 Posted 24/06/2019 at 20:55:21
It's been well documented that, if Bill Kenwright had done everything in his cack-handed way across the park, they would've hounded him out with countless protests, like they done with the two yanks!! The man is a total curse and even now I bet he somehow holds us back, or at least won't let go.
Keith Young
44 Posted 27/06/2019 at 22:33:19
Paul, I wonder if you would help us to understand what an average position over 100 years is. Since “only” 8 or 9th might be very near the best. Who are we comparing with? I assume no team has an average of 1st, nor 2nd, nor 3rd nor 4th nor 5th tell me when to stop.

Tell me which team over 100 years had the highest average and who was it??? How close is it to 8th?

Roger Helm
45 Posted 03/07/2019 at 18:40:30
I think the problem is that for the past three decades, until recently at least, the club has been very badly run and has suffered mainly from poor recruitment. When you think of the managers we have had recently, only the early Moyes era can be regarded as better than poor. Similarly, those few years apart, player (and no doubt coaching and support staff) recruitment has been similarly not good enough.

As a result we have fallen behind our rivals. It should have been us in the Champions League Final, not Spurs. It is only our large and loyal fanbase who have allowed us to be as high in the league as we are. Hopefully our new management team, especially when Kenwright eventually departs, will do better.

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