TL; DR: Everyone has a role to play, but ultimately the buck stops with the owner and board

‘Who’s responsible for toxic culture?’ It’s the question I get asked the most in my line of work and frustratingly for most, there’s no one simple answer because on some level every single person involved in that culture is responsible.

With the departure of Frank Lampard, the club’s hierarchy will be expecting results and the culture to improve and whilst the former may change in the short term, the latter most definitely won’t, unless other actions are taken.

Culture in its simplest form is ‘the way that things get done around here’. And from a football club’s perspective that not only includes the owner, board, coaches and playing staff, but also employees in the club shops, ticket office, car park, grounds keepers, physios, cooks and so on. Everyone has a role to play in making sure that there’s a vibrant culture where everyone wants success for everyone else. This is not a pipe dream – some teams (and organisations) do it consistently well!

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The culture is built to deliver the strategy that’s been determined by the ownership and senior ‘leaders’ of the organisation. The owner will say “This is what I want to achieve” and this can be a financial target or silverware or in our case mid-table obscurity and a good cup run.

The board, CEO and senior managers from across the organisation – Director of Football, Managers (Men’s and Women’s team), Merchandising, Ticket Sales and so on – will then agree on the strategy required to achieve these goals. From the obvious things like transfers and the budget for them to the less obvious things like the kind of grass on the pitch, the bulbs in the lights, the community work the club undertakes and so on.

Then it’s up to the employees to work together to build a culture to deliver on that strategy. Fans will then buy tickets, products or services that enable the club to finance its operations such that the strategy can be achieved. If those goals are consistently missed, then shareholders can use their voting power to display their confidence (or otherwise) in the ongoing viability of the organisation and competence of its senior managers and demand change.

The media also have a role to play in reporting on the health of the club and bringing to light any (factual) issues that may negatively or positively affect current or future performance that in turn help shareholders to hold the hierarchy to account. Or else keep the fans informed of progress on and off the pitch.

If just one link in this chain is broken, then the consequence can be catastrophic with relationships breaking down between the various groups giving rise to behaviours that are considered to be ‘toxic’ or damaging to the organisation. And there are examples of this everywhere at Everton. Such that, in writing this, I almost don’t know where to start.

Now that the club have dispensed with the services of another manager, I’ll try and break it down to make it easier to understand and offer some ideas about why we are where we are and at the end and how it can be fixed moving forward.

How to spot the culture you have?

Culture can be best represented by this model and you’ll see this in your own workplace:

On the vertical axis is how much people are ‘engaged’ in the organisation. In short, how much of a damn do people give? About the club, what it’s trying to achieve, about getting consistently better. The horizontal axis is how well people behave. If you have high emotional intelligence, you’re behaving well and you have a good attitude, low emotional intelligence and your behaviour leaves something to be desired and you’ll lack motivation.

When everyone cares and is behaving well you get a vibrant culture. And vibrant teams win. A lot. Manchester United and Arsenal in the 90s/00s; Manchester City today. They had/have owners, boards and managers who know how to build great cultures that players wanted to be part of. Then everyone does their bit to keep the club there. Investing every year in player development and cultural evolution.

Guardiola’s rant about the fans recently was bang on – although city fans might not think so! He didn’t feel that they were doing their bit when he and the team were. And whilst fans could say that, “Well, we were 2-0 at home to Spurs, it was our right to boo”, City were still dominating the game and have a squad and coaching staff that is the envy of most clubs around the world. Their 4-2 win came as no surprise to anyone.

When people care but don’t behave in the way that they should, the culture becomes combatant. Everything is a fight, everything is a battle and everything is harder than it should be. Spend too long in this quadrant and the culture turns toxic.

Newcastle is a great example of a club that has ridden the rollercoaster between combatant and vibrant for years. Only turning toxic in the latter throes of the Ashley years and now vibrant again with new owners, a solid strategy, some good player investment and a culture built by a young manager in Eddie Howe who knows how to get the best from the players he has. 

Sometimes it only takes one individual to turn a culture combatant and, if that person is left unchecked, then a toxic culture can ensue. Like when Dennis Wise broke his teammate's jaw on a pre-season tour. That kind of thing.

When people are being the best of themselves, but there’s no real passion, desire or fight, then these cultures are pleasant. Ipswich and Norwich are great examples of clubs that are just, well, ‘nice’ and have been relegated from the top tier with a whimper at various stages in their history. They talk about ‘enjoying the experience’ and ‘getting back there one day’.

Stagnant cultures are the worst. Where no-one cares and everyone behaves poorly. These cultures can be catastrophic and see teams that were once great or had a chance to be great, collapse in on themselves. Just like the Roy Keane, Republic of Ireland Saipan incident in 2002.

History and Fans

Okay, so firstly the stuff we all know. We’re a club with a proud history, moderate – but not great, let’s be honest – success, strong commitment to community support and outreach, and one that was always at the forefront of innovation (first major football stadium in England, undersoil heating etc) in the early days.

Over the years, we’ve had particular ways of playing, with the ‘School of Science’ often being wheeled out as our ideal way. Having said that, I watched the Dogs of War win the FA Cup at Wembley in 1995 and there wasn’t much science involved there! Just a load of fight, bottle and the brilliance of Neville Southall. Vibrant culture at its best!

As fans, we have an (often unhealthy!) romantic relationship with the club. Scouring Twitter and every news outlet for the slightest story so that we can then talk and debate this with our mates. Most fans have played variations of Championship Manager, Football Manager or FIFA as well and will often think that they could pick a better team or tactics than the actual manager. “If only we’d bought Kim Kallstrom…” Or even, get the best from Dele Alli: “What that kid needs, lad, is a kick up the arse… I’d sort him out!” and so on.

Our job as fans is to support the team – through good times (cast your mind back) and bad. To stick by the manager (regardless of who it is), the players and the club, and provide support on and off the pitch.

Our job as fans is to abide by the rules so that the club isn’t brought before either the football or police authorities. From not chanting anything racist or homophobic, to staying off the pitch, staying away from players’ cars as they leave the ground, and not giving club officials bear hugs.

It’s also the fans' job to ensure that, when the club is away from home, they behave impeccably and uphold the good name of the club. In the way that they did, as an example, in Rotterdam in 1985.

In short, our job is to support. However, when we don’t see what we expect, then we start to behave in ways that we wouldn’t ordinarily. From booing, to call-in shows, to Twitter rants, to comments on the Echo’s website. It’s not what we want to do as fans, but we often feel we have no option, especially when it feels like no-one is listening. That’s not an excuse for bad behaviour, though, and it’s every Everton fan’s responsibility to keep that in check. So, in short, stay away from the cars, gates and staff.

Manager, Coaches and Players

First and foremost, it’s the manager’s job to know how to build a vibrant team culture. This comes before tactics because, if the manager doesn’t have the respect of the players, then they are never going to follow the tactics that are put before them.

The manager and his team of coaches need to be able to motivate individuals and the team alike. They need to create an environment where players and staff feel comfortable working and want to succeed. An environment that works the players hard (but not to the point of injury!), so that they themselves feel like they are developing.

The manager and coaches also need to understand the needs of the individual and ensure that they achieve the potential that they have. Alex Iwobi is a great example of a player who thrived under the previous management team, but not the one before it.

Having built a good team culture of mutual understanding and respect, the manager and coaches need to be tactically astute. They need to understand opponents, their strengths and weaknesses, and how the current group of players can exploit these. They need to work on defending, attacking, set-pieces, and ensure that each group of players (goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, attackers – even down to youth players) understands their role and how to work with the other groups around them.

Managers and coaches need to have an infectious passion for the club, so as to inspire the players (and fans) when things aren’t going well. They need to take risks and know when to go for a win and when to settle for a draw.

They need to communicate with honesty, clarity and respect, and trust people to do their jobs. They need to be welcoming and forgiving, but also deal swiftly with poor performance and behaviour so that it doesn’t affect team performance or culture (the so-called ‘tough love’).

It’s the manager's and coaches' job to ensure that the club wins games through the players it has. Winning increases engagement, which increases individual confidence and self-worth, leading to a vibrant culture. As the old saying goes, winning begets winning.

When a manager starts to dictate culture or else treat staff unfairly (and there is a very recent example of this at Everton), then this will adversely affect the culture and the manager will ‘lose the dressing room’. At that point, the culture is irreversibly broken and the manager will carry the can. Sometimes it’s justified; often, if they’ve not had the right support to develop the team, it’s not.

The players need to show up every day for training and matches with the right attitude. One that is focused on team – and not personal – performance. Every player has to stick to the job that they’ve been designated on the pitch and they need to take responsibility for motivating and communicating to each other throughout the game to ensure that the tactics produce a result. Every player needs to recognise when they have to step outside their comfort zone and lead on the pitch. It is not enough to be passive.

If a player isn’t happy (for whatever reason), then this should be discussed with the manager or director of football and a resolution sought. Unhappy players will negatively affect the culture of the team, so it’s a manager's responsibility to not only set realistic expectations about playing time and position, but also to ensure that they are motivated every day to give their best for the team.

Players that don’t have the right attitude or quality to play within the tactics selected by the manager or director of football should be moved on to create money and squad room for players that do.

The same requirements of culture building, motivation and a winning mentality also apply to other members of the management team across the club in ensuring that their targets are achieved.

Frank Lampard was a modern coach and had a hugely successful playing career, which didn’t translate into results, no matter how badly we wanted it to happen. Yes, he understood the club, was impeccable in his communication and apart from a dressing room spat at the end, maintained a good culture in the team throughout. He is a young manager at the start of his management career, but results have been extremely poor (the back-to-back Bournemouth results being a great example) and this has – of course – affected the entire culture of the club. He will of course point (rightly) to the fact that he didn’t have a good enough squad to compete but he undermined this by fielding squad members who have let the club down for the last 5 years, rather than giving a couple of the younger players a chance to shine.

A new manager will often see a bounce in results because they bring a new approach, and this is often seen when clubs appoint an interim manager (Duncan Ferguson’s appointment being a great example). However, if that person doesn’t have the competence, the personality, the knowledge and passion, then the bounce ends quickly or ends after one game.

The names currently in the frame to replace Frank Lampard are underwhelming at best and yet any one of them could achieve some short-term success. Without time and backing from the board, however, this could fizzle out very quickly and the club will regress to where it was before and thus increase the toxicity.

Board of Directors (including the Director of Football)

The board’s job is to ensure that the management team has everything that they need to succeed. They act as an intermediary between the owner and the senior management team of the club and are charged with ensuring that the strategy is achieved. Where targets aren’t being met, then it’s their job to performance-manage those that are ‘failing’ (for want of a better word) or else make recommendations to the owner about how things can be improved.

The board also holds the owner accountable and ensures that they are delivering on their promises too. Their independence is their strength and their job is to provide a range of insights from outside the club on how things can be improved or else how success can be maintained.

As with the manager and coaches, they need to communicate with honesty, clarity and respect and trust people to do their jobs. Having said that, they generally do this at shareholder’s meetings or else the annual general meeting.

The board not only safeguard the club’s future, but also ensure that the core values of the club are maintained regardless of ownership or management.

As an advisor to the board and reporting to the CEO, the Director of Football is responsible for all football operations – from transfer strategy and negotiation, to management performance and even down to style of play. They need to be trusted to do their job as any ‘outside interference’ will lead to underperformance through ineffective recruitment or no clear way of playing.

It will come as no surprise to Evertonians that this element of the structure is the biggest issue right now and is adversely affecting the management (the new manager will face exactly the same challenges as Frank Lampard), coaches and players.

The owner appears to have built a structure that will do his bidding rather than hold him to account and his constant meddling with the Director of Football (particularly previous incumbent Marcel Brands) has led to a situation where the club has wasted over half a billion pounds of his own money. And all of that is on the board. They should have stopped this or else resigned their positions when they realised they weren’t able to do so.

No-one is bigger than the club and that’s what the board exists to ensure. They should never have allowed the owner to cease the commitment to annual general meetings and they should have also curbed his back-door media interactions that not only undermined them, but also the management team too.

Of course, the owner will say that it’s his club and he can do what he wants, but through his actions and poor communication, Farhad Moshiri has single-handedly poured fuel onto an already burning fire.  

Additionally, it’s the board’s job to ratify a change in the management team as recommended by Kevin Thelwell, the Director of Football. The sacking of Frank Lampard – whilst understandable given recent results – will still leave fans wondering (a) why didn’t it happen before the World Cup to allow a new manager the opportunity to strengthen during the transfer window?; and (b) what’s the plan to replace the manager given that performances have been poor all season?

Kevin Thelwell is relatively new into the role and has inherited an incredibly poor squad as well as being constrained financially. That said, it’s his job to ensure that the club has a shortlist of managers to replace Lampard that will play football in a particular way so that momentum isn’t lost – as Brighton did when they replaced Graham Potter with Roberto De Zerbi, a virtual unknown who has hit the ground running because of the seamless club structure and vibrant club culture.

The absence of this will once again lead to anger, which will intensify the current toxicity.

Bill Kenwright, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Grant Ingles and Graeme Sharp (who even admitted that the club is ‘in turmoil’) have all failed in their roles in delivering the strategy and governance required to run the club, which in turn contributes further to the cultural toxicity. 


And so that just leaves the owner of the club. Their principal role is to either personally bankroll expenditure in line with the strategy (Abramovich was a good example of this) or else seek funding from external sources to help with the running of the club (eg, Wolves who are owned by the Chinese-based Fosun Group headed by Wang Qunbin and Liang Xinjun). Owners will recoup their investment through share dividends and, if the club is successful, they’ll not only benefit financially but also, reputationally too.

The owner’s job is to ensure that the club is well structured, well run, doesn’t break the rules or the law, and to provide the money, when required, to deliver the strategy. For the most part, they are silent and choose not to speak about club affairs, leaving this to the Manager, or CEO.

If at any stage the owner witnesses the culture of the club begin to degrade, then it’s their job to ask questions of the board and to commission an external review such that action can be taken to correct it. 

Of course, when they are the reason for that degradation, it’s an almost unthinkable situation to recover from, particularly if there’s no board of directors that’s willing to hold them to account. The report will simply tell them what was already known and little, if any meaningful, action will be taken.

Farhad Moshiri has gone on the record to say that he’s made mistakes - 7 managers in 6 years, none of whom have a win rate of over 50% is testament to that – and in light of last year’s relegation near miss, he openly apologised to the fans.

However, he is also culpable of stoking the fires of a toxic culture by going behind the back of the board, director of football, managers and others, communicating directly with Sky Sports News host Jim White and other ‘friends in the media’ to maintain his (not the club's) image. As well as ordering a strategic (but not cultural) review of the football side of the business and choosing to keep it quiet.

No reasonable fan questions the money that he’s put into the club, nor the progress being made on the new stadium. Yet, he constantly undermines himself and the club by his misguided actions (particularly with the press), by abandoning good business practice (board governance etc) and his seeming determination to devalue his own assets.

It is all a bit of a mess.

The way out?

The culture of the club cannot be allowed to stagnate like it did in the early 1980s. Attendances were at an all-time low, supporters were apathetic towards team performance and merchandise was rarely seen outside Jack Sharp’s.

Yes, the club bounced back from this, but only because it was incredibly well run behind the scenes with Sir Philip Carter as Chairman and inexperienced manager and former midfielder, Howard Kendall, being given time and money to turn the club around. Kendall, to his credit, developed a style of play and worked hard on his own tactical awareness (supported by Colin Harvey) and filled the team with hard-working pros that he could transform into an effective team. 

The football world in 2023 is very different, however. The clubs around us are better run, haven’t breached spending rules so can buy better players, and for the most part (West Ham and Leeds are wobbling) their boards, managers, coaches, players and fans are united in their bid for survival. This must be our goal. We are no longer competing with the ‘big teams’ and haven’t been a big team ourselves for years. Yes, Newcastle, Brighton and Brentford have all overtaken us, but these comparisons will continue to generate ill-feeling not solidarity, which is what’s required now.

In light of a lack of board direction, then fans and shareholders must continue to unite in calling for change at the top, whilst offering 100% support for the new manager, coaches and team (whoever they might be). We simply have no other option other than to watch our culture stagnate and the team topple down the leagues.

Demanding that players be taken off or sold whilst they’re on the pitch will do nothing for their confidence, nor improve performance. Neither will surrounding players' cars or any kind of abuse, online or otherwise. And whilst we may think that players (and the press for that matter) aren’t bothered or should be able to ‘take it’, they are still human beings with a job to do and they will want to do it well, regardless of whether they have the talent to do so.

The owner needs to shake the board up, of that there can be no doubt. He needs to appoint a series of new non-executive directors with very specific roles (not necessarily from the world of football) who can help shape the club of the future to ensure that it evolves positively in all aspects and provides him with a valuable asset that he can either to continue to support or sell on. A club that gets back to doing things in the right way. One that has equal representation, has a commitment to proactive shareholder and fan liaison, and to upholding the culture on and off the pitch.

And even though - as fans - we may think that relegation feels certain right now… it’s not. With a change at the top, some shrewd deals, a change of tactics to a consistent Everton way of playing that we can build on over the next 3 years, and the continued commitment from fans to do what’s right in the face of adversity, the club can not only get itself out of this mess but give us something to be proud of again.

Here’s hoping.


Colin D Ellis is a best-selling author of three books on workplace culture and works with organisations around the world to help them create high-performing teams. Prior to leaving the UK for better weather, he had a season ticket in the Paddock for more years than he can remember and still talks about being in the Street End for the Bayern game as if it were yesterday. You can find out more about him at

Reader Comments (38)

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Tony Abrahams
1 Posted 24/01/2023 at 07:50:57
You made some very good points, before it then became a very hard read for me Colin, mate.

It’s football, and football should always be kept as simple as possible imo, and although it would be easy to write thousands upon thousands of words, about what is wrong at Everton football club, it’s plainly obvious to see, that the club lacks real hard nosed professionalism, and this is one of the main ingredients required, imo.

Ian Bennett
2 Posted 24/01/2023 at 08:04:45
Moshiri clearly has made a complete mess of it, but Kenwright has his fingers all over it too.

Kenwright got away with it by hiring Moyes, which papered over the cracks of him running down the club further.

If he had hired Megson, his favourite, rather than Walters suggestion - we'd have been relegated years ago.

Kenwright culture of that'll do, do it cheap, jobs for the boys, is why this club never professionalised in 25 years.

I can't name one good thing Kenwright has done for this club.

Simon Jones
5 Posted 24/01/2023 at 09:38:55
One of the best articles I've read for a while and not just an "Everton" article.

Great explanation as to where our toxic culture come from, because I often wonder where it started.

For a while Kenwright was hailed as the saviour (not by all, admittedly) of the club, but he has remained on the board for too long while the world of football has changed around him.

It's probably an over-simplification to blame everything on Kenwright (I'd lay some of our current issues at the door of Koeman, he set completely the wrong example as a manager), but I really hope he comes to the conclusion that he is part of the problem.

Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 24/01/2023 at 09:47:40
It's become the vogue in modern times to decry the work of experts and I think this is where people in this country especially are making a huge mistake. So it's really refreshing for me, Colin, to read the analysis of a real expert in a very important arena of corporate business sense. Thank you for that.

A long read it may be but I think it was important to have someone who knows what they are talking about (without claiming specific internal knowledge) lay out in clear terms where the problems appear to lie and what can be done about it.

There is something, however, that caught my eye and I believe it is of critical importance to what is commonly thought to have transpired within the walls of Everton Football Club Co Ltd when it comes to the Board of Directors:

"Their independence is their strength and their job is to provide a range of insights from outside the club on how things can be improved or else how success can be maintained." [Emphasis added]

Quite simply, they have no independence whatsoever.

Half the board – Barrett-Baxendale and Ingles – are full-time club executives, fully embroiled in the day-to-day running of the club, and can therefore provide no insights whatsoever from outside.

Similarly, the self-proclaimed Greatest Evertonian and his Yes-man sidekick who make up the other half of this board, provide only the questionable nostalgic romanticism and emotional tugging of the heart strings that is supposed to pass in this modern era for competent direction of a huge multi-milllion pound corporate business in the biggest sports league on the planet?

Your excellent article only briefly hints of the need for a board shake-up and the appointment of a series of new non-executive directors with very specific roles. To my mind, this is going to be tremendously hard to achieve, yet it must be the primary focus and expression of the "Sack the Board" sentiment that currently seems to many a vague and meaningless gesture – yet it must result in immediate and wholesale changes at board level if we are to do anything to change the cultural toxicity you have identified.

Barry Hesketh
7 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:09:54
I think that the club due to its inability to sustain its financial model or at least being unable to progress from best of the rest, thought it necessary to invite into the club what it hoped would be a guard dog but has turned out to be a wolf.

The club is now the possession of one man Farhad Moshir (or his Oligarch friend) it is he who dictates the culture of the 'new' Everton and those that ran the 'old' Everton are powerless to prevent the owner from acting on a whim. They have now become paid employees, with very little power over the major decisions.

The 'old' Everton without the injection of Moshiri's cash, would have collapsed, perhaps sooner than it has, because that version was also run by a one-man-band, but one with a lot less money.

The 'holy grail' of a new stadium, may still become reality but the club will have paid a heavy price for its construction and not purely a financial cost.

Moshiri can use Everton as his plaything for as long as he wants, but he will eventually extricate himself. He may leave the club with a shiny new stadium, but the Everton many of us grew to know and love will have ceased to exist, and its replacement may not be anywhere near as attractive as the 'old' Everton.

Bob Parrington
8 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:22:16
I feel we have to look at this club as a business. The CEO is the person held responsible for making the business work. The business is failing. Therefore the the CEO should be the one to go!

As an aside, the Chairman has responsibility to ensure that the board meetings are held in a responsible manner and he/she should work closely with the CEO. Disfunction between the Chairman and the CEO should not occur.

My recommendation would be to sack the CEO first, followed by the Chairman. Somebody has to take responsibility and if the other board members pissy foot around, without challenging the CEO and the Chairman, then the business is doomed to failure.

Andrew James
9 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:25:31

I don't recall Megson being in the running back in 2002 but I suppose BK might have been swayed because he was a former player.

It is worrying if he was a choice as I always had him down as a bang average caretaker coach.

I always thought it was very classy of the outgoing Walter Smith to make recommendations to BK.

Michael Lynch
10 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:35:17
Wow. I have to admit, I took a peek at the author's website and thought "who is this grinning charlatan in a dodgy blazer and slacks combo?", but that is possibly the most informative, intelligent and throught-provoking article I've ever read on here.

Thanks for ending it on an optimistic note, because the rest of it makes sobering reading.

Brent Stephens
11 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:35:54
Good article, Colin. The 2 x 2 culture model also applies nicely to comments in TW!

I agree with Michael's "Vibrant" comment at post #6 - independence through externality is vital, for a combination of business expertise and footballing expertise (Jim White doesn't pass that test).

Colin Bell
12 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:45:21
Great article, maybe too soon to take it all in but…..

Kenwright comes in for too much stick. Let’s be clear, he should not be Chairman. He can’t do that job and be a successful theatre impresario. When we needed to get rid of Peter Johnson, Kenwright stepped in and we should be grateful for that. He is a true blue and, realising that he couldn’t bankroll the club, promised to find the right person to buy the club. He found that person in Moshiri but the management’ of the owner has been disastrous. Kenwright is not a well man, he should step down and be made Life President with our thanks. He won’t get any but that is because he has held on too long.

I read, only this weekend, that Moshiri believed that being Everton’s major shareholder would only take 5% of his time. It takes more than that but if you’ve got the right CEO, given the right brief, then he could sit back and enjoy being the owner of EFC.

Denise Barratt-Baxendale is not the right CEO. A highly intelligent and successful businesswoman, and someone who loves the club, she would be a good addition to the board for sure but the CEO needs to be a person steeped in football.

Grant Ingles, no idea of his role or input.

Graeme Sharp, even less. What qualifies him to be on the board more so than any number of former players?

Communication at the club is woeful. Sky Sports News found out hours before the fan base had anything shared with them directly via the website. Criminal. A friend of mine suggested that Everton were formed in 1870, it just took 8 years for the board to tell anyone. See also communication about supposed ‘attacks’ on board members.

Our playing squad can play the game. Tactically, we are poor. DCL in the 6 yard box can score goals but we never get crosses into the box that he can attack. Instead, we lift balls into the box from just inside the attacking half. As a centre half in my playing days, I could defend that all day long and unless we put someone else alongside DCL, he has no chance. He can knock balls down when he can’t attack the goal.

Moshiri needs to determine the philosophy and culture of the club, instruct the CEO in his wishes, who in turn should enable the management to deliver. The role of the Chairman is simply to check everything is in order. As a ‘chairman,’ I always used to allow my teams to be decision makers. I always told them that if they couldn’t make a decision, I would but they had no choice but to back me up and deliver.

I have no doubt that I have set myself up for a load of flack but, I love my club. Season ticket holder since the age of 10 with a number of gaps during that time but I do remember the good times and want them back. I’ll be getting behind the team, as always, against Arsenal. I hope everyone else does.

Thanks Frank and good luck to you and your support team, you are an honourable man.


Jerome Shields
13 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:51:36
Colin, Culture is the heart of the problem at Everton.I have said it many times, but not as thoroughly as you.

IMO the present Culture goes way back to Johnson when many Fans could not understand the Culture that they where witnessinh . It was self serving and ultimately completely self enriching, with a structure of the School of Science which effectively change the playing side in a bureaucracy.It continued with a Director under this regime, who became chairman.

The whole Culture become completely Self serving to his objective, winning competition became wishful thinking, with no strategic in place to do so.Actually the Chairman became nothing more than a Fan as far as these aspirations where concerned, believing he was their brother with his matey style and enthusiasm and rejection obvious at game.People employed by the Club where brought in to cement and maintain this Culture, just like a psychopath attracts other psychopaths( the Schedule B type) around themselves in a organisation.

When Club decline as a result and money was needed to continue, a new investor was found.Not a Owner. The first rule of Takeover, is to impose the Culture of the Takeover organisation on the organisation that has been taken over.It is surprising how often this is not done Moshiri had the added problem of the Culture he came from which was more a backhanded asset stripping of State assets culture

So the Culture continued with money, self serving rather than pragmatic, with new titles and new positions sharing out the lolly.It then attracted more self serving members and in the process went throught enormous amounts of money,No Managers could work with this self serving Culture, but being Professionals, made sure they got compensated leaving adding to the Problem, Ancelotti being the exception.

Inevitability it all ended up pear shaped and those of this Culture are still trying to maintain this Self Serving Culture and the majority will still profit even if Everton are relegated.The last Takeover was a attempt to get a new suitable investor, who naturally was dodgy from the off, since they like to deal with like for like.

The divisions in Everton are the clash of two Cultures. The competition Culture the Fans want and the Self serving Culture that exists and still exists at Everton Football a club.Toxicity is assured so resolute is the problem

The protest objectives are right in the removal of these pertainants of such a Culture, it is the only way.

Thank you Colin for your highly relevent article.It should be the bases of any analysis of the Everton problem for what action is necessary .

Danny O’Neill
14 Posted 24/01/2023 at 10:56:21
Agree, some great points in that article, but it became difficult in its complexity.

Football is a simple game made complex by people who either don't see it or they try to complicate it.

In my life experience, culture has to start from the top down and starts with a vision. Who do we want to be? What is our brand.

As you rightly call out, the Manchester clubs built on their history and traditions, but they reinvented themselves rather than living in the past.

You can use your heritage to good effect, but as the Chelsea supporters used to retaliate to the Kopites; making history, not living in the past.

Bob Parrington
15 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:06:59
Colin, I have to apologise for posting before having read your entire article. Sorry, my excuse is that I'm in Phuket playing golf with the missus.

IMO, you have put together a remarkably well thought article that will make most of us recognise the many causes of the demise of our beloved Everton. Well done.

There's almost nothing with which I would disagree apart from some aspects you suggest are the responsibility of the owner, when I regard them as the responsibility of the owner. But let's not split hairs.

Well done Colin and Thanks!

Colin Glassar
16 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:09:36
Show off, Bob. Some of us are freezing our balls off here.
Paul Turner
17 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:23:02
Excellent article - and comments. Nail. Head.
Dave Abrahams
18 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:25:36
Colin Ellis thought Everton were a well run club under the chairmanship of Phillip Carter? Really?
Paul Tran
19 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:30:43
Super stuff, Colin.

Way too many people in the UK, including the UK government, want and propose simple solutions to complex problems. Largely because they are unwilling to challenge or test their own ideas.

Soundbites are a poor substitute for thought-through policies that should be kicked around and tested before anyone thinks of implementing them.

As it is with Everton, where nothing appears to be thought-through, except for after-the-event excuse-making.

Sometimes, it's about stopping, thinking two or three steps ahead, using a bit of critical thinking, considering consequences. If you do all that, then top it with a bit of risk-taking, you'll have more chance of succeeding.

The thinking has to come first. We must start doing that.

Bob Parrington
20 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:32:55
Sorry Colin. It's been a long time coming because of Covid.Not travelled for 3 or more years. I've seen the temperatures on Merseyside and shivered in response.

Can I mention 28 C (Humid) to warm you up!

Rick Tarleton
21 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:37:38
It's more or less, though much more clearly said than I've managed to say, what I've been banging on about for ages. The culture is rotten and changing one tier on its own won't change much. Lampard had to go, but I can't see a manager changing the culture that Johnson, Kenwright and Moshiri have created. It is the worst run club, certainly in the Premiership, even a great manager like Ancelotti failed to move it forward.
The idea of our players adjusting to Bielsa's high energy style is farcical. I don't know the answer to our problem when there are few resources and little desire on the part of the Board to change the system. Whether its Moshiri, Joorabchian or even Usmanov who's ultimately our money supply, it seems to have dried up. Billy Liar hasn't the resources to fund his starring role as Chairmen, so God knows where we go.
Perhaps the triumvirate of Big Dunc, True Blue Wayne and Reidy who obviously "get us" whatever that means can make it happen. But optimism is in short supply..
Colin Glassar
22 Posted 24/01/2023 at 11:37:51
It’s all good, Bob, same here. Hopefully a few days in Italy or Austria in the summer. Enjoy.
Robert Tressell
23 Posted 24/01/2023 at 12:05:41
Rick, I agree that the current players are unlikely to transition quickly to Bielsa's style of play.

Realistically he would need a pre-season, some turnover of the squad and a few months to bed in, with league fixtures.

We just don't have the time for that.

He might therefore be someone to appoint in summer but not now. And his time may well have passed now anyway.

As for who is to blame for the toxic culture, I would say it is a combination of culprits dating back to the late 1980s - many of whom have also contributed positive things for the club (or tried to) at different times.

Back in the day, we could have become Sheffield Wednesday without Kenwright and Moyes. But, if they hadn't arsed up the Kings Dock opportunity, we could have become Man City without Kenwright (and Moyes too perhaps).

Moshiri can't be blamed for chucking money at us, but can be blamed for doing so in a way he absolutely would not have done in relation to any other business venture - being without a strategy to make that outlay into a success.

The various managers have all had their pros and (many) cons, but have also been at the mercy of financial constraints and aimless club management.

So, after rambling around, I can only conclude it is all the fault of Alex Nyarko.

Dave Lynch
24 Posted 24/01/2023 at 12:18:38
My fear is we go the way of other big city clubs.

Look at Birmingham City... 2nd largest city in UK and they have been in free fall since the mismanagement of Karen Brady, Coventry City... another one city club poorly run and virtually went out of existence.

Sheffield Utd and Wednesday are big clubs as are Ipswich to a certain extent and Sunderland. That's not to mention WBA and a few others.

Football today is a very unforgiving beast, the board and club have to be very careful here or it may put us back decades.
Personally at my age I ain't got decades to wait.

Stu Darlington
25 Posted 24/01/2023 at 12:24:49
Good read Colin.Couldn’t have put it better myself!!
You do however give an awful long list of attitudes and behaviours that must be right for all people in the organisation before we can reach the vibrant culture necessary for success.
In my experience,group dynamics are not like that.In any organisation’s within society,whether it be football clubs,industry,community,public service etc,you get the good,the bad,the ugly,conscientious,time servers, honest, dishonest etc etc.
The bigger the organisation the less chance you have of getting everyone to sing from the same hymn sheet,and the more time you spend trying to weed out the ones that can’t or won’t.
This is the problem with Everton.Different roles have different short term goals,although the overall long term goal for everyone is the success of the club,it is extremely difficult to implement a one size fits all strategy to combat this.
In effect you need multiple strategies for all parts of the organisation and that’s when it becomes very complex, and as Danny so rightly says football is a simple game made complex by people.
Barry Rathbone
26 Posted 24/01/2023 at 13:20:02
We don't buy good players and haven't in any number since the 70s bar a brief interlude under Kendal, if you don't have good players you can't have a good team.

The dreadful comparison with the devils spawn building an empire via the exact opposite through Shankly and continuing today adds to the frustration and produces the toxicity.

Either our scouting system is piss poor or the people they're recommending aren't being recruited.

It's all about players we just don't have enough good 'uns and haven't for decades. If we ever manage the trick of recruiting like others uncovering relative unknowns who turn into crackers we might get a good team but we've failed to do so for decades and I see no reason why it will change.

The other option as per City, Chelsea and now Newcastle require oodles of loot but people don't like to hear such facts for some reason.

Jerome Shields
27 Posted 24/01/2023 at 14:31:59

It is a complex article for a extremely complex subject.The detail is because the problem permeates every level of the organisation, individual involved, the Fans being a key ingredient at all levels.It would take the depth of the above knowledge as a bases and the right calibre of Management to formulate a plan and action it.

Paul the Esk gives a his articles of the required Management, but IMO it would take a even deeper effort than that.I know we are talking people jobs, but alot would find they have been employed on the wrong criteria for the job they are doing for the new Culture standards. Look

I have seen this type of situation before, where a well run organisation took over a bigger poorly performing one.As the Culture of the taken over organisation started to dominate( a reverse takeover). turnover of £20 million was lost.There where alot of staff casualty's as the situation was reversed by Management brought in to sort it out.

At the moment Moshiri, Kenwright. Barret Baxendale. Thewell are just pissing about in comparation to what needs to be done.It is questionable if they have the necessary skill set or ability to start with.

Tony Abrahams
28 Posted 24/01/2023 at 14:55:50
If they had even a little bit of the skill set, we would not be in this position now, imo Jerome, so all the toxicity has definitely been started by the people at the top of our club.

They even went public, with something that hasn’t been proven, which put Evertonians, in a very bad light, especially once their PR MACHINE, kicked in, which just shows how toxic, certain people at the top of Everton football club, really are by nature?

Peter Mills
29 Posted 24/01/2023 at 16:23:47
The fans do have their part to play, and have to behave properly, but it must be remembered that we are also customers. As such, we are entitled to complain when the product for which we are paying is so sub-standard.

I think Frank Lampard has some of the qualities to be a decent manager, especially in his communication skills and probably man-management.. But he doesn’t have much tactical acumen, and has been let down by those he appointed who were presumably supposed to make up for his shortcomings.

Too many of the staff (players) lack the requisite skills to deliver what should be the core product, relative footballing success. They are just not good enough at playing football at Premier League level. The delivery of some of the other products, such as the stadium, appears to be good.

The Board should challenge everything, upwards and downwards. They have to be prepared to tell people things they don’t want to hear. I’m sure that is the biggest gap of the lot, because they are afraid to do so and the guy at the top doesn’t want to hear it.

Barry Hesketh
30 Posted 24/01/2023 at 16:34:13
Peter @29
The club seem to forget that point you made, that we are at the end of the day, paying customers. We do have an emotional tie to the club, but even if we had attended every game for the last sixty-years, if we didn't stump up for the price of a ticket, we wouldn't get into the ground.

I've become less of a supporter and more of a critical paying customer in the last few years, and as such, once I've attended the last game at Goodison and the first game at the new place, I will be less inclined to automatically purchase a season ticket, I'll still be interested in what happens to the club, but I'll want a lot more for my money than I've had in the last few years.

Rob Dolby
31 Posted 24/01/2023 at 17:37:28
Colin. Very interesting analysis.

How do we correct the culture. As you say there are so many failing throughout.

Is it in Moshiri's interest to hire a consultancy to perform this analysis. What would it unearth?
Is he happy with what is going on at the club? From memory the only thing he did was bring in Usmanov's nephew.

What was his motivation for buying us in the first place.

Is it in kenwright's interest to improve culture knowing that he is almost certainly going to lose control.

EITC is a massive achievement for the club and city. DBB should be proud of her work with the charity. Making her CEO was a massive mistake.

An opportunity for a culture change was well and truly missed as BK wanted to keep the status quo.

All of the above issues can be masked over with a manager getting results on the pitch. Something 7 previous managers have failed to deliver.

I only see culture change when we get a new owner that actually wants success for the football club.

Our situation is the culmination of many mistakes over the years.

The polar opposite are Brighton. 12 years ago they where playing football in the lower leagues using an athletics stadium for home games outside of their town. Proper leadership and a vision has got them back in the prem.

If we go down has Bk and co got it in them to get us back in the prem. I very much doubt it.

Dupont Koo
32 Posted 25/01/2023 at 01:03:07
Well written, Colin.

Now that American Owners are rushing to this side of the pond to buy up Football Club, their way of running Professional Sports Teams would become a norm, like it or not.

No more lifetime contract for Club Icons (Seamus, in this case, would either be sold or released at least 5 years ago when his sales would help replenish the club's Finance or his release would release part of the budget to be spent on replacements), no more handcuffing by players (Mirallas? We would pay him NOT to play for us instead of letting him rot Finch Farm).

In short, everything starts with the Owner and the ones one level below. Moshiri, Kenwright and Barrett-Baxendale can't spin away from being accountable for bringing the club to its current mess.

Before Lehman Brothers went under in 2008, its delusional Chairman Dick Fuld tried to divert the attention of the Financial Market by firing his long-serving right hand & left hand in COO, Joe Gregory, and CFO, Erin Callan. It didn't move the needle at all and the rest is history. Now, if only Moshiri would do the same too!

Colin Ellis
33 Posted 25/01/2023 at 09:13:57
Thanks all for the comments, really appreciate them and of course I don't expect everyone to agree...what kind of world would that be?!

I've tried to apply a full 'business' view because, whether we like it or not, that's what the club is.

At any stage the owner could start to change it and he would argue that the appointment of Thelwell will do just that, but it's going to take much more than that.

When I work with teams, I always start by asking the people that do the real work (😂) how they feel and whether they can do their job properly and feel a sense of pride in their work. If not, then you know things need to change.

The culture is the foundation for all success. Money helps, but only if you can integrate players into something that works. And we definitely don't have that yet.

Again, thanks to everyone who took the time to get to the end of the article!

And I loved "who is this grinning charlatan in a dodgy blazer and slacks combo?" Michael! Should change that photo then...

Michael Lynch
34 Posted 25/01/2023 at 09:40:51
Sorry Colin, that was uncalled for - it's a lovely blue blazer, and a winning smile!
Danny O’Neill
35 Posted 25/01/2023 at 09:46:50
Colin, to reiterate, that was a brilliant and well though out article.

Jerome. You hit a nerve. Not so much take overs but I too have seen umbrella companies acquire subordinate ones. The acquisitions operate differently and end up like kittens fighting in a bag. I would say that sound's like Everton's board, but our kittens are meek and seemingly asleep with no fight in them.

Culture has been built into our club. We all live it and breathe it. But it can not rest on its laurels, which it has done. God only knows where I get my fight from, but I wish they would have it in them.

I understand that Bill apparently stood on this Boys Pen, which must have been before my time. I don't know if he stood in the middle of the Gwladys Street or tied his brother to the ledge with a scarf.

But if he did and if he has 1% of the desire I have for this club, he would have looked in the mirror long ago. I couldn't live with myself.

Moshiri is guilty of taking control but not taking control. It might be too late, but put your own competent people in control.

Barry, you and I will always be supporters with an opinion and view. But Evertonians for life. They've got me and you. They have me and you.

God forgive me. It's only Wednesday and a long wait until the next match. Expect many more rants and ramblings.

George McKane
36 Posted 25/01/2023 at 10:18:36
It is a good article and the concept of culture - - or creating/destroying a culture - - is a very thought-provoking issue.

I have written for many years about the lack of (positive) ethos/philosophy/culture at Goodison - - why do other Clubs have this seemingly "never say die" culture - - "expect" to win - - I remember when HK was in charge and we would go a goal down but we all said "no problem" we will win this - - a culture of positivity - - created from The Manager and filtered down to the players and to the fans - - now we even go a goal up early and most of our thoughts are "we'll lose this" - - where has this come from - - then the whole package is caught up in this negative/fail culture - - bad press/referees seemingly against us/teams coming here and expecting to win - - who started it and how do we change it - - around 18 months ago after Founding Yellow House I was seriously ill - - I had given my life/soul/heart to YH and had created a Culture of joy and happiness a dn creativity where the most important thing above everything was "the young people" - - when I was ill and in hospital a new Manager (who I had Appointed)decided on an aprroach to run it like a "business" - - suits/ties/ waistcoats/boys/ - - "let's get finished and go for a pint" - - rushing work to go to the pub - - lunch hours out with "the boys" - - smartarse comments about "girls/women" - - when I returned initially as a Mentor I saw YH falling apart but with smart cool executive Posers prancing round - - the young people were second most important at best - - I dismissed him and returned YH to it's rightful "Culture" - - first you have to know what Culture is and what culture you want to install - - I am unsure if any of our Curretn Board would quite grasp any concept of Culture outside of "self promotion and protection".

I would like to see A Chief/Leader with a vision/dream/Ambition/Philosophy - - fully explained to our Fans and we can then buy into it and support it - - me - - I don't recognise Everton and have no idea whatsoever what we stand for - - except that E(Verton) = S(hambles). Terribly sad and I cannot see an immediate change coming.

James Flynn
37 Posted 25/01/2023 at 19:15:17
New pants on the same pig.

A Power-Point style re-hash of what we already know and discuss ad infinitum.

And, apparently, everything everywhere is "Culture".

Christine Foster
38 Posted 26/01/2023 at 06:20:47
Colin, a good overview of the toxic culture that permeates the club. Missing from the analysis however are the key ingredients of Trust, Communication and Belief.

For any employee or fan for that matter to buy into a company and its culture, the individual has to have buy-in, skin in the game, or trust in the message and its author.

The big issues that have led to the corrosive atmosphere have been a toxic mix of those three elements. Whilst one may consider they sit within the EMIT spectrum, the reality is that these three elements underpin everything pertaining to the effectiveness of a successful culture.

Belittle, lie, ignore disintegrates culture forever. No matter what comes after, the culture is tainted. Like cancer, the disaffection grows and becomes the dominant culture. Because of the lack of integration with the very people they lead, the leaders have their culture and the rest their own. This dual railway line approach (never agreeing, never meeting, never understanding, just condemnation on both sides) is where we are today.

Relegation, like the train coming towards you, has forced the owner and board to look around for support, reprieve or salvation and it's not coming from the team, the manager or the fans.

Calls for unity are fine, alas no unity whatsoever has been apparent from the owner and CEO and alas this has sadly but inevitably resulted in the condemnation of the owner and board by the fans.

There is only one outcome now for unity: the owner has to look at himself and the board to repair and change. The trust has gone in the board, they have no trust in the fans, but fans are many, a board is few. A new board is the only way a new culture can be introduced and believed in.

Jerome Shields
39 Posted 26/01/2023 at 15:18:17
Danny #35

You belong to the Culture that wants to win and do good business.It will always be difficult for you to understand the self serving Culture of those that run Everton.You just don't think like them, though you are fully aware they are on the wrong wavelength.

Christine #38

Trust,Communication and belief are definitely in deficit.

Tony Abrahams
40 Posted 26/01/2023 at 20:59:35
Very good story George, with the perfect illustration of somebody who is doing things for the right reasons. I believe that wether it is good or bad, that everyone tries to create their own culture. We have had a deceitful man at Everton for years, who has divided the fans, with his lies and nepotism, and a culture of self preservation.

Some believe he has had the clubs best interests at heart, but this is something that I find impossible to believe, because I think actions speak louder than words.

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