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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Highlights of the 2009 Shareholders Forum


On a fine summer evening approximately two hundred shareholders assembled in the Goodison marquee to hear Chairman Bill Kenwright, CEO Robert Elstone and Mr Robert Earl talk about the performance of the club on and off the field. David Moyes was also there to rightly receive the thanks of all those present for delivering a phoenix like season once again.

Bill explained they would talk about the same things as an AGM but that it would be more relaxed…for him.

The evening opened with a presentation from Robert Elstone; Robert began by explaining that he had made a couple of attempts at humour in the presentation but having shown them to the team, they gave it the big thumbs down. He continued…

“Which reminds me of something that happened on one of the most important days of my life, as I was about to speak at my wedding my wife took me by the sleeve and said…don't try to be something that you're not” Clearly a wise woman Mrs. Elstone; after the churchyard bell stopped tolling and the tumbleweed cleared the room he decided to take her advice and stick to what he does best…

Much to the delight of every blue blooded Evertonian in the room Robert revealed that the club were posting a record turnover for the last financial year, almost £80 million, up four million on the previous year, due in the main to increased media payments and an excellent FA cup run.

The highlights of Robert's presentation included:

“The agenda today is all about communication. As has always been the case at Everton we stand up on every issue…nothing is off limits tonight…no sense of a closed door or a closed mind…that's not the way Everton are…Everton are proud of the way it communicates.”

“I've talked in the past about business models emerging in the premier league, the billionaire led model, which is Chelsea, Manchester City…and the search for billions is ongoing, absolutely ongoing.

The other model, the facility and fanbase led model, we have the…we've said it before…we have the opportunity to improve substantially our facility…the decision on that is currently with government, we know the inspector has issued the report and when the decision comes out…if it's favourable we are ready to move forward…it absolutely remains a fantastic opportunity for Everton Football Club.

It also provides us with a better facility to lever off a better business and our day to day challenge is to be a better business and that's about joining up the Everton Foundation with our marketing strategy, it's about using data in a better way, it's about continuing those supporters clubs visits… above all I think it's a simple thing…it's about making you in this room proud to be blue…that's what I'm telling our team…go out there and make them proud to be blue…and if you're more loyal you're better fans and that puts the business on a better footing.”

QUESTION FROM A SHAREHOLDER…

“If the club ever does end up in the hands of a billionaire will the minority shareholders be subject to at compulsory buy out?”

Bill Kenwright:

“Ermmm over a certain amount…I would hope not…but legally yes…Robert knows more than me…”

Robert Earl:

“After a certain percentage a bidder is legally obliged ……there isn't one in the offing…people are waiting for Kirkby…Bill has everyone's interests at heart in this room, not only his bank balance…I shouldn't be telling you this but he's neglected his own business…

Bill Kenwright:

And can I just tell you, friends send me things that are on the internet…stories about me chasing forty seven Arabs out of my office because they won't give me what I want…let me tell you, stories about meeting Arabs are bollocks…absolute total bollocks…there's no one out there with the money we need…it's last place me…first place the football club.

QUESTION FROM A SHAREHOLDER…

“Looking at the record turnover…most of it from TV rights…the core business, the commercial side, stayed the same, slightly backwards; you say we're punching above our weight how long can we go on without investment…I hear every week…I read the paper and there's club's being bought…if you're looking 24/7 why haven't we found someone……… Is one of the reasons no on has come in for Everton is that the board are asking for too much money?

Bill Kenwright…

“No”

SAME SHAREHOLDER…

“Some clubs have consortiums bidding for these clubs… Peter Trembling former commercial director, recently left the club, we'll never find out why, within three or four months of leaving he found investors…middle east based…to buy Notts County………if Everton are for sale how much are you asking for the club?

Bill Kenwright:

“Here we go…oh please………come on”

SHAREHOLDER:

“You're not answering the question…”

Bill Kenwright:

“I'm not answering your question…I'm bored with your question…you're not getting an answer to the question.”

Shocked shareholders couldn't quite believe the treatment of a shareholder asking a legitimate question, the shareholder didn't hear the chairman's final words…what was ringing in his ears was the earlier statement by Robert Elstone…

“The agenda today is all about communication. As has always been the case at Everton we stand up on every issue…nothing is off limits tonight…no sense of a closed door or a closed mind…that's not the way Everton are…Everton are proud of the way it communicates.”

Bill Kenwright explained to the audience that he was amazed at the debt figures of other clubs; he explained “Whilst Everton's debt is big…it's worrying, but we manage it” he mentioned how amazing David Moyes was, managing on five million net a season for his transfers, he stated “We're punching above our weight.”

QUESTION FROM A SHAREHOLDER:

“A couple of questions directed towards you Robert…but first of all I'd just like to say how professional the set-up is here and I for one applaud the fact that you're engaging with the fans…firstly I'm concerned that for no apparent reason the club appear to have dropped the people's club banner…secondly, and I'm happy to talk about Kirkby even if nobody else does…as a Kirkby resident and a member of the Kirkby liaison group I'm concerned that this group…and the transport group have not met…for nine months in the case of the liaison group.

Robert Elstone:

“Our research indicates that fans prefer Nil Satis…that's the way to go…that doesn't mean we're dropping the peoples club…on the other matter I wasn't aware…the transport group has held three meetings…there's no reason why we can't start that up again…

The rest of the evening was given up to shareholders asking questions about catering, marketing, Wembley tickets, the recent trip made to South America by shareholders and finally an interesting session with David Moyes.

The 2006 companies act no longer requires private companies to hold annual general meetings…Everton traditionally held their AGM's towards the end of the calendar year…there's nothing preventing them from having one this year………when the full accounts have been posted…when the transfer window has closed and the investment or lack of investment is there to be seen on the pitch………and when the secretary of state has delivered the decision on Destination Kirkby; a time when shareholders, in possession of all the facts, are in a position to ask searching questions of the bored board.

Shareholders will do well to remember two statements made during the meeting………

“The agenda today is all about communication. As has always been the case at Everton we stand up on every issue…nothing is off limits tonight…no sense of a closed door or a closed mind…that's not the way Everton are…Everton are proud of the way it communicates.”

Robert Elstone - CEO

15th July 2009

“I'm not answering your question…I'm bored with your question…you're not getting an answer to the question.”

Bill Kenwright - Chairman

15th July 2009

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