Where to start with this article! I think firstly it is important to clarify that I firmly believe in the clubs motto of “Nothing but the best is good enough” and that the club should be doing everything possible to regain its place back amongst the leading teams in England. 20 years without a trophy is simply not good enough for a team of Everton’s stature.
From this opening paragraph, most would think that I sit firmly in the anti-board camp, however if anything I am the polar opposite. I have faith in the workings of my football club, not everything is perfect (is it ever or anywhere?), but the club have made significant improvements off the pitch, which I believe the current board of this football club should take immense credit. I know this is not a view many are prepared to state publically, but I will back this opinion with fact.
Firstly, and as stated by Roberto Martinez in a recent press conference, Everton are a team that has balanced the books. The club are no longer in a position where we are living hand to mouth and selling our best players at a fraction of their market value in an effort to stave off the banks. “Where is the Arteta money Bill” is a sentence which often reverberates round in any debate about the success or failure of the board. Well in truth that money was used to pay off a portion of the clubs crippling debts, a burden which the current board inherited when they rescued the club from the cavalier and reckless management of the Peter Johnson era. Everton do not have to sell Ross Barkley, John Stones, James McCarthy etc… for the simple reason that the board have remained strong under growing criticism and have used the booming Premier League economy to balance the clubs finances and place the football club on strong foundations for a sustained period of growth.
One area that many supporters become frustrated with is the hierarchy’s apparent lack of urgency to complete transfers. Evertonians become embarrassed by the boards’ hard negotiating stance as they look to secure a deal that best suits the clubs finances. Talk of Bill Kenwright attempting to spread payments over a long period of time should be seen as a strength and not a weakness. If Everton are able to sign four players in a window rather than two because the board have successfully deferred expense until a later date, then that has to be a good thing for Everton Football Club and its supporters?
Rewind to 2006 and the Everton players were training at the much loved but outdated facility at Bellefield. The Blues were desperate for a resource that was better or at least comparable to the leading Premier League teams. The Board acted and used their creativity to fund a move to a new venue fit for Everton and the modern era. The result was the excellent Finch Farm which has brought the club and its academy closer together than ever before and also provides the elite players with state of the art pitches and equipment and acts as an attraction for top players when the club enters the transfer market. The way the board funded the move to Finch Farm has attracted criticism, but if you cut through the bluster you are left with a top range training ground that is financially viable for the long term. Ideally Everton would have total ownership of its training facility, however the club have the security of knowing that Liverpool City Council will happily pass on the asset at a time when it becomes financially viable for the club to purchase.
One strong attribute of the current board, that is often overlooked, is the patience it shows towards its managers. There are no knee jerk reactions at Goodison Park to a series of disappointing results. Instead managers are able to operate in an environment that enables them to build the club from top to bottom. This has resulted in a period of stability and growth, when many other clubs have aimed for the heavens and ended up with regular battles against relegation. Who would swap with Aston Villa (5 managers in the last 6 years) right now, who for a time were striving to break the top four alongside Everton and are now fighting an annual battle against relegation?
I have left possibly the hottest topic until last, the merchandise deal with Kitbag. While it cannot be ignored that the deal comes with many failings, it is remiss to ignore the fact, that prior to engaging Kitbag, Everton were consistently losing money from its commercial operations. That is a fact and although you can point to the success of other clubs who are able to eke out additional funds through their merchandise activities, Everton have traditionally struggled in this market. Part of the reason is that as a collective, Evertonians do not invest heavily in club branded products and without a worldwide fan base desperate to pick up anything with the clubs logo splashed across it, this will remain a difficult area for the board to break.
As a board, Bill Kenwright, Jon Woods, Robert Earl, the late Sir Philip Carter and Robert Elstone are far from perfect, but they do have the best interests of Everton at heart and despite the mounting criticism they are doing a good job for our precious institution. The challenge moving forward is to provide a football ground worthy of the Everton name, while continuing to ensure the team develops on the pitch.
If you disagree with this post, please contact us and let us know your view. We are keen to post all sides of the debate.