Now the season is over, it's time to look at how fans use the impetus and positive experience regarding atmosphere in influencing Everton's owner and Board of Directors
There is a thought process that says there is never a good time to ask difficult questions. There’s always a reason to postpone addressing the issues causing a particular problem. Yet, just like those that willingly refuse to address medical issues in the early stages of a condition in the belief that things will sort themselves out, the truth is that almost every problem in life, business or professional sport increases in size if ignored or not properly addressed. At best a problem ignored remains a constant.
But in doing so as your peers grow, in relative terms your ability to compete diminishes. As your ability to compete diminishes the rewards for participation reduce as does the attractiveness of your proposition to players, managers, coaches, and staff.
At worst, the damage created by not addressing the problem or problems becomes so great that you lose your status and drop out of the elite leagues. A path of decline might be initially, failure to win a trophy, then failure to win a European “spot”, failure to maintain mid-table status, a brush (serious or otherwise) with relegation, and ultimately relegation itself.
These are symptoms of a business (or in this case a professional sports organisation) with considerable problems. Problems that the current management teams and owners are failing to address, or do not have the awareness, capacity, experience or knowledge to resolve.
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So, what are Everton’s problems?
“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
In simple terms, the people making decisions at Everton have made too many poor decisions for too many years. A trend accelerated with Farhad Moshiri’s acquisition of shares and control in February 2016.
The cumulative effect of these poor decisions is a build up of risk within the business. What does that mean? It means performance falls away, it means finances suffer, it means a lack of long-term strategy, it means poor governance, it means making bad recruitment decisions, it means being a less attractive organisation for the most talented to be recruited into. It means addressing growing problems from a reducing base with increasingly scarce resources. As each of these issues grow the risk to the business and what it hopes to achieve become greater. As this happens the solutions required are greater and need to be more radical.
If the management or ownership do not recognise these risks, then each subsequent poor decision compounds the previous decisions. The problems just continue to mount.
This is the situation Everton find themselves in. There is no room for denial. The escape from relegation by the narrowest of margins screams at anyone with the slightest interest in football but particularly Everton, that the business has major problems.
Addressing the problems
But what of the strategic football review I hear you ask? The review that was referenced in glowing terms since Premier League survival was assured by local media and correspondents close to the club?
The review in which the people directly responsible for creating the chaos and carnage of recent years, are now the saviours, the solution providers, the people to take us to the promised lands? Think about it for a moment. To get to this position, having spent £500 million + on players, £800 million + on wages in the period, the people who got us there are now the people to lead us out?
To get to this point, the people and processes were either horribly flawed or wholly negligent. Systems, governance and controls could not cope with an errant owner and an inadequate board, all of whom individually, possibly collectively at times were making very poor decisions.
The idea that the same cast of people, the owner, the Chair, CEO and others close can review their own actions of previous years and then create a solution that does not involve enormous change in personnel in those positions, a change of governance structure and the input of new, adequately talented, knowledgeable, ambitious individuals and at a comparative level equal to the boards of competing clubs is absurd.
The idea that the same group of people can learn the lessons of the last season and what led to this and not only stop the rot of decline but get us improving relative to our peers is incredulous. It literally (in my opinion) defies belief.
The recruitment of a new director of football in Kevin Thelwell, the recruitment of Lampard, Edwards, Clement and Cole suggest an improvement in the recruitment process at the highest level – it would be churlish not to acknowledge that, but having better people is only part of the solution. Giving them the autonomy, the responsibility to make their own decisions especially in relation to player recruitment, retention and trading is absolutely vital. The idea that this assembled group of experts then have to rely upon the board and owner for approval, discussion and possible alterations to recruitment suggests no lessons have been learned or that delegating responsibility to experts is not within their management processes.
So, what happens next?
The close relationship between the board, Chairman and owner makes it difficult to differentiate the approach to each or all parties. However, given what is required, the only realistic approach, however difficult, is to Moshiri himself.
A remarkable thing happened in recent months at Everton. Something that I believe will be written about and studied in the years ahead. It is the rise of the people, the fans, the true custodians of the club, the people most heavily invested in the future of Everton Football Club. It is the action of the fans, the realisation that the club, manager, and players were not going to achieve safety without the significant intervention of the fan base.
Numerous individuals and fan groups came together to make changes in the relationship between fans and players, and as the movement developed changes to the relationship between the fans and the club. The club, belatedly, but to be fair, wholeheartedly embraced the passion, desire and sheer determination of the fanbase to pull us to safety, “to get us over the line” as was often quoted.
The past months demonstrate the effectiveness of proper fan co-operation. It demonstrates the passion but also the knowledge (acquired through years of attending Everton matches home and away) of who Everton are, what this club is, and what standards are expected.
This unity of purpose, this planning, this ambition and ultimately the remarkable actions and atmospheres created at individual games, coach arrivals and Finch Farm has to be translated into a strategy, plan and actions which gets Moshiri, as in the original words of the #27years campaign to Listen, Engage and Act.
We the fans proved our value in getting us over the line. We created an environment in which the players felt more valued, trusted and appreciated than at any time in their playing careers. As a result, individual performances and moments of brilliance were the difference between safety and relegation.
The same must now apply to Farhad Moshiri. I have often held the view that there is an alignment of interests in that both he and the fans want a successful, trophy winning football club. We have asked for engagement before. We have offered ideas as to how to improve the club, we have made suggestions born out of the true custodial role fans have. All of this is now backed by proof that properly engaged fans can improve the outcome of football clubs.
That has been amply proved on the pitch, it can also be proved off the pitch in areas of governance, control, management and ownership of the club. Let the lessons of recent months be that the club is stronger with the involvement of the fans even if the message may be unpalatable to some involved and necessitate change.
“The real mechanism for corporate governance is the active involvement of the owners"
“Lou” Gerstner Jr.
Farhad Moshiri, we ask for you to listen to the fans, engage with us, and having heard our input, act. The club is in a better place because of the fans, allow us to assist in getting us back to where we need to be by asking and addressing those most difficult of questions.
This is the first of a new series of articles, looking at the club following the most recent (2021/22) season. The next article looks at our finances including the profitability and sustainability situation.
Reader Comments (27)
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1 Posted 27/05/2022 at 06:23:40
However, regardless of the interaction of fans with Moshiri, if the day-to-day running of the club is not radically overhauled, I doubt much will change.
Moshiri needs to get a pair and bring in the right people in place of Bill and Miss Dynamite. Independent people who can oversee a complete structural management change.
Let Lampard clear out the dross at Finch Farm and let a new CEO and Chairman clear out the management dross.
Finally, Moshiri must take a step back and accept future adulation on occasional visits as we achieve future success – and keep out of day-to-day involvement.
2 Posted 27/05/2022 at 07:55:30
You talk a lot about the potential power of the fans and I think in a constructive way we should try and use that power to get the Chairman to step aside.
We should acknowledge that the Chairman loves the club and has built a reputation for himself as a super fan. But we must now make it very clear it is time for him to go. Let's make him a none executive life president but ensure he is removed from the management of the club and replaced by a full-time experienced expert.
There are so many issues confronting the club, given our financial position, a new ground under construction, a squad of players which is clearly not fit for purpose etc etc.
There are currently many so-called leaders who are clearly unfit for their high position but steadfastly refuse to step aside, our current Chairman is one. We should make it abundantly clear that he does not have our support and not rest until he steps down.
3 Posted 27/05/2022 at 08:05:09
For me, the jury is still out regarding Thelwell. For me, the role of DoF is still not clear at Everton nor the part that influence will play on it.
As for Lampard, it was the fans that selected him. He was initially not considered by anyone involved in the selection process and Bill via Denise jumped onto the bandwagon of the process against Moshiris's selection. Frank then brought in his team. Nothing to do with the club management other than signing off on it.
So what happened regarding fan influence was even more unprecedented than encouragement of the team. But those that lead and are recognised as fan leaders will not be elected to the Fan Advisory Board, which is another barrier of protection for the Board of Directors, preventing fan representation on the Board. Even details of its functions show a prepared agenda by the Board. It is a whitewash in the face of fan protest.
At any level of football, a team that wins silverware has a winning team on the pitch as well. At Everton, there is an unformed structured and embedded bureaucracy, built on self-interest and patronage.
They are milking Everton dry. They are allowed to do so by an offshore owner that is running Everton like an offshore entity, because of the interests and concerns of Moshiri and his associates.
Maybe a new owner may change things, but it is more likely that ownership will be shuffled off to a nameless entity.
Of course, other teams have the same plague Everton has, but not as blatant as Everton yet in the Premier League. In reality, change will be difficult and more will depend on how much backing Lampard will get from Moshiri if he is to progress to avoid a relegation dogfight.
When a recession comes, everyone expects efficiency and good management. In my experience, what you get is inefficiency and the rise of thick management.
I wholely agree with everything Paul the Esk suggests, but I doubt it will happen at Everton. The culture is too embedded, and has continually protected itself. The Strategic Review was very much part of that process.
4 Posted 27/05/2022 at 08:35:09
I don't see how we can get rid of the clowns running the club unless we the fans mount a similar campaign against the Board like the one in support of the club that kept us up.
5 Posted 27/05/2022 at 08:37:10
Then they fuck off back to the boardroom before everybody gets too pissed and somebody wants to take a poke at them, letting those who actually know what they're doing, get on with it...
Always, of course, this being Everton... providing that there are people who know what they are doing, which has not been the case – hence the recent problems.
6 Posted 27/05/2022 at 09:12:39
You and Lyndon in two superb articles have identified the problems of poor governance at two different levels; most of ToffeeWeb are totally with you both. I wish the board was too.
7 Posted 27/05/2022 at 09:28:15
Perhaps if fans really want Kenwright's removal, they should congregate outside his offices in London and protest? Bring it to his doorstep?
8 Posted 27/05/2022 at 09:34:53
You are right when you say the change in how the fanbase became more and more motivated as the season neared what could have seen Everton lose their Premier League status.
I started watching Everton the year we got promoted back to the first division, so I have only seen top-flight football, and I like many feared that this season that was about to end.
As far as the appointment of supporters into the Fan Advisory Board this for me is just paying lip service to the fans and will have little or no impact on any footballing decisions the club make.
Just like the clubs who signed up for the European Super League the only time they baulked was when their fans protested otherwise that league would now be in the process of starting, but I don't believe the idea of a European Super League is dead, despite supporters of those clubs protesting. What they mainly objected to was not the setting up of the league but the fact there was no promotion or relegation.
And of course, Uefa's answer was to implement a system where if any of the so-called elite clubs don't qualify for Europe, UEFA will give them a place anyway. I haven't seen any fan protests from those clubs affected saying it's wrong.
Paul, from my point of view as Roosevelt said the buck stops with me and so the buck stops mainly with Moshiri. He has seen fit to appoint 2 managers in Allardyce and Benitez who were complete anathema to the majority of fans.
Yes, he and his boss Usmanov have pumped in millions, but it just highlights money without a talented manager to oversee the spending it can all go terribly wrong as it has done. But when you have an owner who hasn't a clue how to run a successful football business then what has happened at our club should be no surprise to anybody.
I said in a post the other day, the two most important things at every top football club is money and a top manager; we had the first but not the second, sadly.
You can go back as far as you like – those two factors are still as relevant today as they were in Bill Nicholson's Spurs, Harry Catterick's team, Matt Busbys Man Utd right up to City, Liverpool and Chelsea now. The fact that Moshiri appointed a very inexperienced manager in Koeman was one of his many terrible decisions.
Great managers set the style of the club and the ethos of the club but if their replacements aren't of the same calibre that ethos and style quickly evaporate. Just look how both Arsenal and Man Utd are now struggling for an identity or style since Ferguson and Wenger have left.
Whether Kenwright or Barrett-Baxendale should be on the board is immaterial; Moshiri is simply not the right man to take us forward. Until we are rid of him, I don't think this is the last time we will be in a relegation battle while he is in charge.
9 Posted 27/05/2022 at 09:51:05
I also didn't expand on our fan base which as players and managers and coaches have all commented they have been exceptional during this run in and as influential as any player. Whether us fans can keep that high intensity of support going into next season, I truly hope so, as I think it made us all very proud to be part of the most special group of fans ever.
10 Posted 27/05/2022 at 10:01:06
Recruitment, recruitment, recruitment. Get the basics right of running a football club and the corporate bit will become a whole lot easier.
A clear way of playing needs to be established, then recruitment perpetually feeds that system as is necessary. Keep it simple.
The Fan Advisory Board may well be a cosmetic appeasement tool, they'll probably get some fish thrown to them. Hopefully they can bring some common sense to the board's thinking and strategies.
With regards the basics, I would want to see a recruitment committee made up of 12 knowledgeable Evertonians. Scouts, former players, senior trainers, obviously including the manager and DoF. People who really know football and have the eye and ability to know talent.
It's no good having someone like Walsh and Koeman, throwing Mr Moshiri's money around like confetti. Or Moshiri himself on a whim. It can't be allowed to happen again. We have to learn from mistakes.
The 12 members of the recruitment committee can sit when needed having studied and reviewed targets, comment and reach consensus. Pure Evertonians making the absolute core and crucial decisions that decide our club's fate and future.
11 Posted 27/05/2022 at 10:25:01
The new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock never made any sense on the face of it, did it?
“Hmm... our capacity is 39,000, we could really do with another 10,000 seats, and to spruce the place up generally. How much?”
“Well, I reckon I can get you up to 50,000 seats, so you'll be able to get the extra seat revenue for the big games, and that is all for a bargain price of half a billion.”
“I'll take it!”
Maybe him and his mate did have some grand scheme of opening up the whole docks area to investment and whatnot, but that is surely now dead in the water with the war in Ukraine.
As such, he's lost his money man, and his reason for the new ground, cos a guy who's just lost a fast £300M in 5 years, surely isn't going to spend another £500M, just to get little old Everton 10,000 extra seats, is he? Doesn't make any sense.
I'm sure a much more likely scenario is he's now frantically trying to sell. And any new owners will take one look at the figures for the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock and think 'no chance'.
But if Burnley went for nearly £200M, then we'll be worth at least £300M, so he will make an uplift on what he paid Bill. The real danger for us I think is Moshiri doesn't care who he sells to, and let's just hope we don't end up with the characters who run Burnley.
So, whilst I don't think Moshiri will listen to the fans at all, there may be a way to get Kenwright on side. He at least does have Moshiri's ear, and Bill needs to understand that any dodgy sale by Moshiri will reflect very badly on him.
12 Posted 27/05/2022 at 10:46:53
I've been banging on for years now that you cannot expect to have a solution from the same people whose incompetence got you there in the first place.
This was not a one-off, not a chance happening. Incompetence and arrogance, the deliberate sidelining of fans and shareholders, this has been the hallmark of this club in its dealing with fans. Deliberate strategies to lie to fans to expect then that the same people to be saviours is a disgrace. Are we stupid?
Moshiri will be gone as soon as he can; other than looking after his money, I cannot see him wanting any involvement. I think we have a holding board until a new owner is found.
There can be little doubt that although Lampard finally got safety, it was those fans, derided so often, who got the club over the line.
Nothing else has changed, nothing else will until a new owner and board is found. We are tinkering around a PR exercise until that happens.
13 Posted 27/05/2022 at 11:09:27
There may be reasons as to why Moshiri has remained silent – as far as I know, he could be thinking of selling up, he might not want to publicly declare his relief at the outcome so as not to raise his profile amid all of the financial ramifications due to profit and sustainability issues or due to his long relationship with a sanctioned person, or he just isn't as interested as he should be in the fortunes of his club.
I can imagine that the board, particularly Mr Kenwright, will point to the finishing position of the likes of Southampton and Aston Villa and believe 'hey it ain't so bad as many make out, is it"? — which is to totally miss the fact that Everton lost 21 matches in the league and struggled to maintain its status until the final week of the season.
I'd like to believe that we are turning a new page in a new chapter for the club; however, if nothing really changes in the culture and the day-to-day management of the club, how, in tighter economic circumstances and an ever-competitive climate – at least among the also-rans in the Premier League – can Everton improve its fortunes? It can't possibly hope that the enthusiasm and passion of the fans is to be relied upon to make the club relatively successful…
I believe that only a change of owner will help to move the club forward in a meaningful manner. If that doesn't occur, I'd expect similar outcomes on and off the pitch in the future, to what we have already witnessed under the current ownership.
The fans can help enormously, as they already have done, but only the owner and board can make the necessary changes to help the club in its quest for success.
14 Posted 27/05/2022 at 13:32:37
Your article sums up the problem at Everton perfectly, but I'm with Jerome and Christine on this.
An old boss of mine had a favourite saying when approached with a difficulty: “Don't come to me with problems – come with solutions.” And to be frank, that's what we are short of here.
We've all seen how powerful our support can be influencing the team's performance on the pitch, but focusing that power on the people who consistently made the bad decisions that got us into this mess is another thing.
We've been fobbed off by “Strategic Football Reviews”, “Fan Advisory Boards” etc. It's just a whitewash. The Board saying to the fans “Yes, we hear you, and as we are a caring People's Club, this is what we are going to do for you” – and then, as usual, nothing changes.
Moshiri is the majority shareholder. He effectively owns Everton Football Club. The Directors cannot vote him out; he will not change the Directors – the result: impasse! As Jerome says, the culture is too embedded.
I get the mass impact of fan power on the performance on the field but focusing that power on the performance of the owner and Directors is much more problematic and, as Christine quite rightly says, nothing will change until a new owner and board is found.
I believe that is the main challenge we are facing at the moment but, as yet, I have seen no suggestions for a solution. And as Jerome says, I also doubt that I ever will.
15 Posted 27/05/2022 at 13:54:55
Bill is our brother, looking out after Evertonian interests. Filling the place with Everton DNA and maintaining it. Denise surrounding herself with people with grand titles with professional self-elevation:
Avoiding undue problems with sanctions, Everton's financial state is due to Covid causing losses of £170 million. After all, the Premier League, in terms of P&S rules. accepted that. Denise selected the manager that saved Everton from relegation and financial ruin.
The poor recruitment of the Brands era, who we sacked, is petering out as players' contracts end. The new stadium will be completed and on budget. 'The future is bright with our smart thinking. '
I know it is all worthy of one of Kenwright's theatrical productions at its best, but not for us because we can all see it is a pantomime.
16 Posted 27/05/2022 at 21:28:10
17 Posted 27/05/2022 at 23:00:03
For what it is worth I have evidence that Moshiri is looking for an exit, but if that doesn't happen then we the fans are faced with a disfunctional board and an even more distant owner.
How do we overcome this?
By demonstrating to Moshiri we offer more value to him than the board and any other current 3rd party advisors.
An in-palatable truth perhaps but we have to recognise the situation as it is rather than how we wish it to be
18 Posted 27/05/2022 at 23:19:19
No formula beyond hard perseverance. Perhaps that's what you mean, but Moshiri can't encash that any time soon.
19 Posted 27/05/2022 at 00:17:51
Back to the main point of your post. To be successful every good organization has a plan that every level of stakeholder (including the fans) is committed to.
We seem to be a rudderless ship and always will be as long as long distance part time Billy and his clique are running the show.
We have already seen the contempt he holds supporters and long standing shareholders in with his antics over stopping shareholder meetings because he felt uncomfortable with being questioned.
We have demonstrated fan power in helping the team over the line we now need some serious fan power to force change at the top of the club.
Chelsea and Newcastle have already made a mockery of Kenwright's past statements that "Nobody is buying football clubs these days".
I believe there is significant clamour for Bill to retire and Denise to be replaced but whether that will happen before Moshiri sells the club is anyone guess.
Anyway if your looking in Mosh let us know will you.
20 Posted 28/05/2022 at 02:38:44
Short term Id rather Mosh listen to us than the board but longer term beyond a minimal impact (eg dont move to a different city or join a super league) I dont want a powerful fan group influencing the board. Remember Kenshite was a fan. The advisory board will inevitably become little Hitler pseudo Calebs. The most charismatic and loudest voices will dominate and we will be governed by their whims. Theres very little most of us agree on in here except that we are unhappy. What I want is some single minded stubborn and football savvy leader eg David Dein type or dare I say Fenway. Who will take tte hits but have a clear plan. I dont want someone like me arguing with someone like Darren or Martin Mason to get in Moshiri ear. That would be chaos
21 Posted 28/05/2022 at 07:59:47
Mr Lying Nine-Lives will probably be thinking he's the man to save Everton again. If Miss Barrett-Baxendale was any good at her job, then surely she would have been gone by now, considering she's been actively seeking employment elsewhere for quite a while now?
Our club is in a very perilous position, and after reading what the fan groups achieved in such a short space of time before the Chelsea and Leicester games, on the Echo website (it's a great read that) then maybe it's time for you people to take charge, Paul, because it sounds like your collective audience has really grown over the last month, mate.
22 Posted 28/05/2022 at 10:24:29
I think even though we need a change of ownership, we should be careful what we wish for. If Moshiri sells and we are acquired by some international sports management group, we will become just another asset in their business portfolio.
Premier League football is a multi-million-pound international business and we would become just a pawn in the game. There would potentially become a massive division between the interests of the supporters of Everton Football Club and the business. We the supporters are concerned about the traditions, values and beliefs of the club, and the business about the performance of their asset.
Talking to some Man Utd season ticket holders, they and many other supporters really hate the Glazers, just look for the green and yellow scarves at United home games.
When they bought Man Utd, the club was debt-free but massive loans were leveraged against the club, saddling them with very high interest repayments. This is just one example and the Glazers are by no means the most unscrupulous predators out there.
I suppose what I'm trying to say is being an Evertonian means something very different to us than some suit in the corporate boardroom…
Just a thought; I'll go and lie down now!
23 Posted 28/05/2022 at 16:23:12
However, I totally understand. Many times over the last 20 years, the mere questioning of the running of the club has led to people being derided by some as a heretic or troublemaker.
And there is a perennial optimism among many Evertonians that somehow next season will always be better.
But there is only 10 weeks to go until 2022-23 kicks off and our latest manager is expected to sign six or seven players and quickly blend them with the unsold and unreleased players into an effective footballing unit.
Yeah, I'd certainly like to see improvements in the running of the club. Personnel and ownership changes could prove to be of immense benefit (fresh thinking) but, as others have said, we could end up with worse than we have now.
And as Stu Darlington (14) said:
“'Don't come to me with problems – come with solutions.' And to be frank, that's what we are short of here."
I can't say I have any solutions, let alone easy answers. For we haven't fallen behind just over the last few seasons. It's been a long-term decline that has left us a long way behind.
But I do ask myself if a change in our collective mindset is necessary. I ask myself if our Everton Superiority Complex is now more a hindrance than a help.
And I think we need to accept that the other club in the city is a lot bigger than us. That certainly does not mean superior. But the number of people around Britain and abroad declaring themselves to be Liverpool supporters is now ridiculously high and keeps rising.
I reckon the size of our UK fanbase will continue to erode until we win a trophy. To that end, I believe we should stay at Goodison, allowing us to spend more money on players, rather than going deeper into debt building a new stadium where defensive errors and misplaced passes will still look like defensive errors and misplaced passes.
24 Posted 28/05/2022 at 17:11:33
Interesting that you have a source that Moshiri was about to walk. Cut his losses and run.
I wonder if this was before or after relegation survival? I think that Moshiri would make a huge profit on selling Everton after the new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock is complete, as long as they stay in the Premier League, even after spending what he has.
I think it is more likely that Everton is shuffled into a new entity under the guise of new ownership. Moshiri and his associates were too out-front during the possibility of sanctions. He has always wanted to be arm's length and supported existing Everton structures to do that.
I think Moshiri & Co's objectives have always been long term, with short term not being the priority. His involvement has been to stem his money from going South rather than stem any reset.
Getting relegated would have changed the whole scenario for Moshiri.
25 Posted 28/05/2022 at 17:16:14
26 Posted 28/05/2022 at 21:51:16
Ideally, new owner(s) for us would have to meet an Evertonians' very own Fit And Proper Person's test. I wonder what criteria we might set.
27 Posted 28/05/2022 at 23:41:27
I think that the threat of relegation had him thinking of his options. But since relegation was avoided I think he will hold on.
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