BLUE UNION STATEMENT
Summary & Conclusions on TBU Meeting with Bill Kenwright
The Blue Union approached their recent meeting with the Everton chairman with an open mind, a list of questions and hope in their hearts; we left with an even greater sense of trepidation, disillusionment and bewilderment over what we had discovered.
Bill Kenwright loves Everton; a third of our meeting was taken up by the type of discussions you would hear at any game or in any pub, Bill would be everybody’s first choice as an Everton ambassador, a great raconteur he lives and breathes the club, his love of all things Everton is both unquestionable and unwavering; so what’s the problem?
A great ambassador, a great fan, doesn’t necessarily make a great chairman. Following our meeting the consensus we formed is that the problem isn’t just Bill Kenwright; it’s the whole board and their approach to running the club. Bill’s diary is indeed full with day after day of Everton related appointments but what exactly are the other members of the board doing? Bill’s efforts are commendable but effort does not necessarily equate to productivity. We’re all still wondering how the club benefits from Robert Earl and Jon Woods being on the board, are they working as hard as the chairman or are they just along for the ride?
Fans concerned that the financial situation is far worse than is being publicly admitted will derive little pleasure from Bill Kenwright’s admission that this is in fact the case. Having to hand over to the banks the proceeds of all the assets disposed of since the last accounting period, in addition to having to supply a document which prevents them from stopping the club from trading doesn’t sound like too many of our peers are envious of our position and would like to be an Everton.
The club hierarchy clearly holds the firmly fixed opinion that fans are incapable of understanding the business or the accounts. Isn’t it therefore amazing that the same fans accurately predicted the problems that were the downfall of Destination Kirkby and the current financial crisis?
Many Evertonians readily understand balance sheets and a profit & loss statements, it’s contemptuous to believe otherwise; many are only too aware that Everton’s negative balance sheet continues to deteriorate and will show -£35m in the next accounts. Fans readily understand that EBITDA has also steadily decreased in recent years and will be less than £500k in the next accounts. What fans don’t understand is why the current board and the hierarchy can’t admit to a complete failure to address the problems that besmirch our club and put in place a strategic plan for change. With a modest £3m increase in turnover predicted, the austerity measures applied to the squad last year, few additions to speak of, departures and mass loan outs have failed to once again to address the rising wage costs which have now escalated to 71%. Is it surprising that fans don’t understand the £24m operating costs when the chairman can’t give an explanation?
We wish to be pragmatic; we know we can’t change the disasters from the past that have come to haunt us, we’re even aware we can’t even change the present, no matter how hard they try you simply can’t get a quart from a pint pot, the ground and everything else is conspiring against us now and the situation is desperate.
What we can attempt to influence is the future; we need a change, not for the sake of change but a change that will bring about a real upturn in the club’s fortunes both on and off the field of play. Despite assurances from the chairman that he’s not worried for the future many Evertonians are worried; they’re worried that the board will sell to the wrong buyer; their track record on delivering what is best for the long-term prosperity of the club speaks for itself.
One immediate change must be to address the policy for selling the club. The reliance on individuals such as Keith Harris, of whom Simon Jordan once said, “delivers the square root of nothing” must be questionable to say the least.
The fact that he introduced a prospective buyer to the chairman who claimed to be the head of ICI should have been sufficient grounds to ensure his future exclusion from the clubs sale process, yet it appears that he is still welcome. Whilst the chairman’s actions over identifying the true circumstances behind this potential takeover were commendable, we find it remarkable that they managed to agree a price, proceed to due diligence and be on the verge of signing an agreement to sell the club. We’re not claiming to be experts, we’re just ordinary football fans, but with all the alleged experts involved wouldn’t at least one person have known from the onset that ICI ceased to be a business in 2008?
Despite what is said, effective communication within Everton and to its supporters is at an all time low. The chairman is explaining he doesn’t claim the interest payable on an £11m loan yet the CEO has said not one of the directors has invested a single penny; the director of communication, the CEO and the chairman give three different reasons why Everton Place is on hold, who are we meant to believe?
For any Evertonian reading the report on the recent meeting any support for the current regime and their policies must now be as rare as an Everton signing in a transfer window.
Our proposal is simple; we’re proposing change in the belief that new and more effective policies are introduced beginning with the club’s sale process. Failure this time is not an option. What we feel is needed is that a clear and visible commitment should be made to appoint an autonomous and dedicated group of professionals with a proven track record in business that can handle the sale of the club to a person or organisation with the best interests of the club and its future.
We hope the chairman accepts the situation is unacceptable, that change must take place and begins to honestly communicate with the fans through the media.