BK In or Out Debate

I must admit that I find it hard to read some of my fellow Blues’ abbreviated  Twitter comments on who and how our club should be run. Admittedly, 140 characters isn’t the best way to argue a point of view one way or another, but it’s the bile that uses up more characters than is helpful that undermines rather than underlines an argument.

There’s no need for me to repeat the language used here, nor to patronisingly rebuke those that use it, suffice to say that those who want a change at the helm seem to argue it from a perspective that includes four letter words beginning with a C and an F. Helpful? Not in my view, although one might suggest it emphasises the passion with which these views are held.

But as I say, I’m not here to lecture people on the use of swear words, what I would say though is that I’m not clear on the arguments, for or against.

Those that are suggesting that Kenwright and the Board should walk away (not the words typically used) have failed in my mind to explain the alternative. It may be written down somewhere, and I just haven’t seen it nor heard it expressed. If the Board walks away, who takes over? Who runs the Club? What do we do without whatever investment they may or may not be making in the Club at the moment? Is it feasible from a technical standpoint? Would the banks be called in to run the business?

These aren’t entirely easy questions to answer, but presumably someone has thought of these things when calling for the Board to go (or words to that effect). One thing that’s clear to me, is that if a Board of any Company just walked away without a succession plan in place, administration might only be a short step away, and I’m pretty confident none of us want to go down the path well trod by the likes of Portsmouth and Leeds United.

It seems to be a demand, albeit from a vocal number, and I’m genuinely unsure if it’s even close to being a majority of fans, borne out of a lack of a trophy since 1995, and the frustration of this season. Fair enough, getting close with a Final and a Semi or two doesn’t put silverware in the cabinet, and trust me, I’d love us to get a trophy, but I do wonder if that should be our only measure of success as a Club. At least we always have ‘hope’ that we can win a trophy, and it’s the ‘hope’ that kills us every time, but for many supporters of clubs up and down the land, getting to the third round of the FA Cup, or getting to a QF, is the height of their ambitions. Our problem is that we’re good, but not quite good enough!

This has been a dreadful season by common consent, made worse probably by heightened expectations after last year’s exceptional performance in terms of League position, as well as by the actual performances on the pitch. I have written before that there were times in our games against the likes of Newcastle and Arsenal when I stood to applaud the quality of the football, irrespective of the end result. What can’t be denied is that we didn’t build on that to the extent we’d have liked to have done over the summer in terms of playing staff brought in to the Club. Tying a few loanees to permanent deals was great, tying a few star players to new long term contracts was also the right step, but ultimately we brought in Besic, and Atsu replaced Deulofeu. Numbers should have gone up by the 7 or more that Martinez espoused, but instead they went up by 1. But we did at least support Martinez’s vision of what he wanted Finch Farm to achieve, thus trying to develop the younger players, whilst also trying to put in place new regimes for pre match days for the established senior players. This excellent preparation work was, however, undone somewhat by an awful pre season, lightened apparently to ensure our World Cup representatives didn’t get over-cooked, but resulting in the squad being very much under-done, if we are to continue with the cooking analogy. And to then get an ever-increasing injury list, which helped establish ‘hamstrings-r-us’ in the Liverpool area, it all seemed a bit half-baked (right, no more cookery references please). But some of the building blocks were well intentioned, some paid off, and some – well, only time will tell.

What else do we measure success of the Board by? Playing style, like last year, would be one, but we’ve been poor much more often than we’ve been outstanding this season; and anyway, who wants to play superbly and finish half way and no trophy? What we have discovered is that Martinez has his playing style and whilst some might understand and commend his commitment to that approach, I think we might all suggest that he has to have some variety so that when faced with two banks of five, we have a different way or two to approach things. But I think he’s still learning, and provided his commitment to his style isn’t a dogmatism and stubbornness that refutes any idea of change, he’ll come back stronger. By common consent, he’s a scholar of the game, and is still relatively young in terms of management, so we have to hope that one measure of success is a manager who took us to a record points total and fifth-but-almost-fourth, who learns about the game, knows he’s cocked up a bit this season and will return stronger. This is a big question. Can he kick us on next season? I know thoughts are very much divided on this one.

One definite measure of success to judge the Board by is EITC (Everton In The Community). We’ve done great things, facilitated and urged forward by the EITC CEO, Dr Denise Barrett-Baxendale, and if you’re not a student of their achievements, then I suggest you look it up and get a warm and fuzzy feeling for the wonderful work done in the name of our Club. Denise is also Deputy CEO of Everton, so I’m assuming the ‘Sack the Board’ supporters don’t include her as well? After all, if the Board goes, that includes Elstone, so Denise would at the very least become interim CEO.

What I’m not trying to do is support mediocrity. I want to go to every Everton game and be thoroughly entertained and that we win every game. I also know that isn’t always going to happen, and we’ll be superb and lose, or we’ll be awful and win, but hopefully you get my point. But I’m genuinely not sure that the current Board isn’t the best we can reasonably expect at the moment. Is there an alternative that we can point to that would bring more investment, get us more players, get us that new stadium, get us that elusive trophy and bring regular European Champion’s League football to Goodison (or wherever we end up playing)? If there is such a plan, please publish it or publicise it more, because only with reasoned debate, not typically achieved through Social Media, will the broad fan base get to understand the options and be able to express their opinions based on a greater level of transparency than there appears at the moment. And it works both ways, I’m sure the Club could do more to be more open about its plans, and to explain more clearly where the ‘Arteta money’ goes each season, because their cloak and dagger approach simply seems to serve the cause of the doubters; without fact there is a vacuum, and when that happens, fans like us try to fill that vacuum, and more often than not when that happens in business – we get it wrong. But armed with a wider view of the facts and how the Club is being run, we could all agree a common path and take it together. What’s the Vision, what are our shorter term goals as a Club, and what’s the path we’re going to take to achieve them. It’s called a strategy, and I’m not sure Everton has one, or if it has, it hasn’t communicated and engaged the fan base. For what it’s worth, that’s what EITC has done, and perhaps the Club could learn from that.

Ross Crombie


18 thoughts on “BK In or Out Debate

  1. If only BK and the board put as much effort and commitment into the footballing side of things as they do with the charity side then we might be a successful football club, as that’s what we are a football club not a charity. I get fed up of seeing Elstone and the rest of his team picking up these silly awards that most supporters don’t care about at the detriment of our football club. The sooner we get back to being a football club and football club only the better.

    1. Being a football club is about engaging with your fan base and with your local community. The two are not mutually exclusive, but it means the players and the Club need to do more than just visit Alder Hey at Christmas, and I’m proud that Everton now does far more than this, both as a Club and the efforts of certain players e.g. Naismith and Stones to name but two. The awards are not a detriment to our club, they’re a way of rewarding the club for its broader efforts. And no one would argue we’d like to add a footballing trophy as well, but it doesn’t need to be instead of.

      1. Im sorry but it seems to me like like BK and the board would rather be better known for charity work than running a successful football club. The awards are meaningless how do they help Everton on the field? I want a winning football club on the field nothing else matters.

      2. Have to disagree on that one mate, I want a winning football club join the field as well as a winning football club off it.

    1. My point was a general one rather than specific, but the point is that sometimes a Club can play attractive football, but not always get the results. Of course, playing attractive football means having a sound defence too, but don’t take what I was saying too literally.

  2. Oh not this load of old tripe again. Be good if the haters would take themselves into the middle of County Road and wait to be flattened by a passing bus. Where would they be without someone to hate? Once Kenwright goes they’ll only hate the next one in. Too boring for words.

    1. I think that was the point of my piece. There needs to be a credible alternative not just demanding ‘out’ for the sake of it.

  3. My question would be, would the author say the same if we were owned by someone like Ashley? Probably not, so the “who would be better” defense is quite silly.

    The main thing – and this has been going on ever since True Blue Holdings bough Everton – is the poor commercial revenue added with a clusterfuck of mistakes. How many failed stadium projects (thankfully the Kirkby debacle was put to rest, that would have ruined the club)? How poor has commercial performance for stuff like merchandise been? Who’s the last good CEO we have had? How about the ridiculously expensive loan we took out some years ago at nearly 8% interest that the club will still need to pay for the next 20 years? I could do on.

    The alternative would be an owner who can actually also run a business or alternatively has money to waste. A lot of clubs seem to be able to do either one.

    1. It’s not a defence Marko, I was merely putting out the fact that there is no coherent argument from the ‘Out’ voices that explains what the alternatives might be. If there’s no alternative, how can anyone make a decision one way or the other. I share some of the frustrations that have been expressed, but I genuinely don’t know who or what would be better. It’s not that I disagree with an alternative, I just haven’t seen an alternative to agree or disagree with!
      On a technical note, if you’re right and we took out a loan at 8%, that wasn’t out of kilter with normality, balancing the amount loaned and the degree of risk that the lenders would assess. It’s not the interest rates of today, but there have been many years of higher rates, and you pay a premium on top of that as a football club where future earnings are far from guaranteed. Our commercial deals seem low in comparison to some others, but again reflect the objective value that the negotiators on both sides reflect in the Everton Brand. We are doing much to try and globalise the Brand, but it’s slow work, sadly.

  4. How many clubs have been sold while Kenwright has owned Everton? Some have succeeded, some have failed but there have been a lot of interest in the club. There was, for instance, a strong rumour that Sheikh Mansour was very interested in Everton before he bought City but BK basically turned him down. Doesn’t mean the deal would have gone 100% certainly through, mind. Lerner was, so it is said, also looking at Everton.

    The 8% interest loan was taken out of necessity because the club had been poorly handled. Problem is, why was it? As for guaranteed income, it’s much more guaranteed than in many other businesses.

    And we have rich owners but why? What’s the point in some of them in the board? What does Robert Earl bring to the club? I’m not counting a visit by Stallone as much. What about Woods, what exactly does he do for the club except vote for anything BK wants? The so-callled poor owners like Lerner and Ashley have put huge amounts of their own money into the clubs while the total sum of all of our owners investement is big fat f**k all. The only money they have ever used was used to buy the shares initially. Now they expect a huge profit by basically having done nothing.

    Let’s look at some numbers:
    Everton’s matchday income was 17m.
    Sponsorship, advertising and merchandise 8m.
    Catering & other commercial 6m.

    Aston Villa made more from their commercial side (but less on matchday).

    Newcastle made 28 million on matchdays and 17 million from commercial, so more on both accounts (about 14 million more).

    Even Southampton made more on matchdays.

    As for the brand thing we have been stuck in Thailand for how long? Yet people there still don’t recognize us. What’s this thing with renewing with Chang every time? Because that’s easy? How exactly have they built a worldwide brand?

    And all this while pissing money on projects like the Kirkby debacle. Now they are doing the same with Walton Hall Park without seemingly any idea how to pay for it or if they will even get a permission. How many millions will they spend on that project? We could have been playing in King’s Dock for several years now, but Kenwright wouldn’t give any control to Paul Gregg so that dream project was buried.

    1. Don’t agree with much of what you’ve said, but respect your right to say it. As I have said several times, rather than just bemoaning what has happened without full access to the facts (and glossing over simple things like Newcastle having a bigger capacity and therefore match day income will be higher), can you propose an alternative?

  5. Let’s start with this:

    And who? Several clubs have been sold during BK’s time, why not Everton? Aston Villa, Newcastle, Manchester City, Liverpool twice, Manchester United, QPR, Fulham, Sunderland, Southampton, Leicester, Charlton, Hull…

    Not saying all of them have been good owners but why should I name a specific name when so many clubs have been sold already? You are suggesting no-one buys football clubs when there is proof of the opposite.

  6. Although in principle I agree with Ross his arguement is silly brecause no one would know the new owner until it was done and dusted so no giving out names then
    Having said that I agree as it is the Moyes debate again -no one knew until he went what would happen

  7. Ross, I told you you’re wasting your time on this subject. The vacuous replies you’ve had illustrate it more than any other words. Those people love their hate more than they love their football. Take my tip and just let it go. Kenwright’s in poor health and will go sooner than later, then you’ll see what we get in his place, probably someone a whole lot worse, then the haters can find their new target. It’s the only thing they live for. They don’t even really care about Everton. Let it go.

    1. Sad if that’s true pal. I believe the ‘haters’ or the ‘moaners’ are the vocal minority in any walk of life, because if you’re happy, you rarely get front page news written about it! Take the headline writers of the Daily Mail and the Express – when is there ever a good news story? Always doom and gloom because their readers want it. Sad. Accentuate the positive I say!

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