I’m not sure if it’s just that there is a more vocal group on social media that is more anti than pro the Board, but it’s rare that I can look at my twitter feed without someone demanding some or all of the Board member’s heads on a plate. It’s even overtaken the dodgy youtube videos of someone we’re linked with, that no one has ever heard of, that appears to be some kind of world beater.
It’s really important to lay out the facts regarding investment in the Club and how it’s been and is being run. St. Domingo’s is one web site that has done this, and you can read the excellent pieces on here and hopefully agree that they are indeed that – facts. How we interpret those facts and what the Club should do about those facts is of course, another endless debate. And let me be clear, I’m not necessarily a Board supporter, but at the moment I’ve yet to see a plan that is a viable alternative that I can buy in to, so let’s just say that I’m a Board Agnostic, or Sat On The Fence if you’d prefer. What is clear from the analysis is that we are not a rich club, and we face inevitable realities of selling players as well as buying them. Don’t equate that to a “lack of ambition” on my or the Board’s part, just acknowledge it as reality.
Of course, the Board could do better in certain areas as outlined in part 2 of the analysis of the Club’s finances, but even if we, say, doubled shirt sponsorship, it would only yield an extra £5m. Hardly a sum to help mount a top 4 challenge, but worthwhile nevertheless. Just for context, an extra £5m would pay two players wages for a year, earning about £45-50k a week, or would pay for about 10 players having an extra £10k per week on their contracts. As I say, worth having.
“How come Spurs raises more commercial revenue” ask many. Well, yes, the indirect ‘London impact’ may be part of it, eg foreign tourists boosting shirt sales, but may at least in part be down to a premium adult season ticket, or a Junior Season ticket, being typically x3 Everton’s. Or Newcastle having 17000 more spectators for each home game which helps offset that their season ticket prices are the same as ours more or less.
We need fact. The anti Board supporters are light on fact-based alternatives to the current situation. If I’m wrong, and a viable plan has been tabled, accept my apologies, but let’s just say I haven’t seen it. You can’t just say ‘sack the Board’. Then what? Where would a new Board come from exactly? And don’t imply with the puerile (but funny if used in moderation) “where’s the Arteta money” that the Board is siphoning off money for personal gain. Not only does that slanderously and libellously question their integrity, it questions the integrity of Deloittes, our Auditors. Let’s face it, they as a multinational business, would have an awful lot to lose from not spotting such fraud. I don’t believe that the Board are acting illegally for a single minute, and no one has shown evidence to suggest they have. I’ve heard “get a new Board” as one suggestion, or an independent team to be set up to try and sell the Club. The former is only an option if we have a queue of people willing to join the Board and who may even be prepared to invest some of their personal wealth in the Club (I’ll admit I don’t even know if this is allowable these days under Financial Fair Play, but surely an interest free loan – a loan unlikely ever to want to be repaid – is acceptable?). As for a team to sell the Club, that’s certainly an option, but only of course if the current Board want it to happen, which may just be the sticking point!
What the Board could do is to communicate better. In fact, the laying out of the facts on this site, is exactly what the Board should have done every year, and not just rely on the Official Report and Accounts which is impenetrable to most. With the loss of Alan Myers, one thing we can say without being Agnostic or On The Fence, is that the Club’s communications have taken a nosedive.
It’s all very well, but….
What could the Club do?
- Appoint a team with a specific brief to raise the Everton Brand profile in large (USA) and growing (China) markets. There is little doubt that our commercial revenue streams are unattractive to look at and equally bland for potential investors. The reality is we need a 10 year plan to make Everton a global brand. It will cost money to do this, but should more than pay for itself over time.
- Be prepared to sell a star name to bring in 2-3 new players that improves the total squad. That shows ambition, not a lack of it – are Chelsea “a selling club” because they sell Luiz? No, of course not, but it raises funds for the Costas of this world. Are Spurs (Bale) and Liverpool (Suarez, Sterling) selling clubs too? No. This will go down like the proverbial cup of sick amongst many, but surely it’s the reality that we need to deal with. If we sell our ‘best’ player, how can we ever compete? Well, for another day, but at least for the next few years, we are not going to be able to compete with the spending power of Chelsea, City, United, Arsenal, and even Spurs. We won’t win the EPL, but we could build a squad capable of winning a trophy for now, and who knows, the EPL might come round in the end. If we have a plan to get somewhere in the future, we have to start to build from today. If we can only make the squad better by selling an asset, then so be it. That, I’m afraid to say it, is Premier League football.
- Is it time to ‘do a Chelsea’ and recruit some younger not quite ready yet youngsters, we send on loan and then sell at a massive profit?
- Grasp the nettle – a new ground or a redevelopment of the one we’ve got. Doing nothing is not an option. Again, a long term plan to find the site (is it Goodison, is it WHP?), long term finance it to build a stadium that we can fill, that allows a sizeable corporate option, and that can be redeveloped relatively cheaply in the future if we become a Club capable of filling 60,000 seats every week, instead of just 40,000
- Integral to all of that, develop a long term, 10 year Business Plan. Where are we headed? What’s the Vision? What are the business and playing goals? And what is the plan to achieve them? To the best of my knowledge, the Club hasn’t got one, but if it has it needs to tell the fans what the plan is; if it hasn’t, it needs one, and again, needs to be communicated so as ‘one Club’ we can move forward stronger and better for it.
Listen, I’m not saying this is a world-beating plan, but it could get us started. If you’ve got additional ideas, or can make these 5 better, then please say so!
It’s time Everton fans bought in to a plan built around the head as well as the heart.