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Friday, March 18, 2011

Birds of a Feather.....Part Two


In the opinion of many, despite numerous attempts at meaningless rhetoric, Everton’s stakeholders are being treated with ever increasing contempt. The recent use of unnecessarily heavy handed legal threats to the online community and by choosing to hide behind legislation that prevents the board from answering searching questions on such important matters as the debatable ownership of the club and the performance of the board in preference to highly stage managed and exclusive gatherings at which vitally important issues are discussed such as the playing of z cars to herald the start of the second half and methods of improving the atmosphere at Goodison, perhaps a more perfect example of procrastination you are ever unlikely to find, are indicative of the deteriorating relationship between club and supporter; supporters, just in case it has been forgotten, that provide Everton with well over £20m of income.

These exclusive and highly orchestrated meetings of hand picked, unelected fans, selected in private, meeting in private, sworn to secrecy, with no minutes produced and chaired by club officials are embarrassingly offered as examples of engaging with the fanbase. A similar process is being conducted across the park, can anybody spot the difference?

Recent attempts to rewrite the history associated with the now infamous banning of general meetings by suggesting inappropriate behaviour forced this decision are laughable when the transcript of the 2008 EGM is read in conjunction with this proposed resolution for a further meeting which challenged the boards total ineffectiveness and complacency; one would suggest the real reason that led to the infamous decision to change the articles of association, thereby disenfranchising a highly significant section of the fanbase, was a simple unwillingness to be honest and open. Talk of inappropriate behaviour at Everton meetings is however well documented; it can be seen here.

Further examples of this contemptuous relationship are numerous; shareholders were told construction of the boards latest solution to our inept commercial ability, the development at the park end, was due to commence in December, following the West Bromwich home game, yet nothing has happened. The little known official explanation, that some minor "legal difficulties" are being experienced, is being offered, yet for some time now KEIOC's information, from their club source, has indicated that "funding difficulties" are the greater problem as, yet again, Everton discover that there's no such thing as a free lunch, that mysterious and unexplainable deals aren't as cash positive as one would like to think and that nothing is, dare we say, effectively free. The fans and shareholders are, as ever, being kept completely in the dark as to the degree of concessions to our "partners"; concessions that may benefit them greatly yet see us firmly at the bottom of the premiership club commercial revenue generation league; a result that highlights Everton's commercial performance equating to just 11% of our total income whilst our peers deliver double and treble this amount.

Everton's reliance on spin and manipulation is in tatters; the recent attempt to chastise the local press, who had the audacity to run a week long series of articles on Everton that were not provided by the club, has failed; the lack of cooperation with the BBC over a news item exclusively highlighting unrevealed takeover attempts backfired and the national press, led by The Mirror and The Guardian are no longer willing to accept the party line over finances and the myth of being a well run club.

Perhaps one of these media outlets will now reveal the real tragedy surrounding the Amanda Staveley organised Arab takeover bid that progressed to due diligence before the all too predictable conclusion that has become a trademark of Bill Kenwright’s tenure - failure.

 

But for the intransigence of the board of directors Evertonians would now be in residence at the King’s Dock; Evertonians should now be watching a skilfully assembled, well financed and professionally managed squad in a world class stadium befitting our historic club. In its place, courtesy of this board, we’re watching a threadbare squad in a threadbare stadium; a squad that has had little meaningful investment for two seasons, a squad that struggles continuously against what should be inferior opposition.

With little prospect of any significant transfer budget in the summer, supporters are being asked to renew their season tickets on an earlier and earlier basis each year, whilst the on pitch performance appears worse and worse due to a total lack of investment in any area of the club; many wonder how much worse it can get, many more fear that worse is to come.

Official explanations that we haven’t been shipping out players to reduce costs and that the manager had a transfer budget in January, but simply chose not to use it, defy belief and insult the intelligence of all Evertonians; particularly when the manger chooses not confirm or deny this scenario. To even the casual observer the all too apparent reductions in matchday revenue coupled with upwardly spiralling wage ratios are both concerning and all too readily observable; as observable as the manager being asked to continually perform miracles with as threadbare a squad that has ever graced Goodison Park in over a century. Thankfully this seasons £15m increase in TV money will once again help keep the wolf from the door but sadly, as ever, the players agents will have claimed the majority of this windfall for their existing clients and Everton’s inability to address their commercial performance fiasco will remain.

The overall responsibility for this arrogant, elitist, bunker mentality being displayed towards the fanbase is firmly with the board of directors, a board that clearly believes they are both above reproach and unchallengeable. It would appear that board members have dispensed with the requirement to retire by rotation in accordance with the provisions of Article 18.2 and offer themselves for re-election to the shareholders; neither are the secretive board too willing to submit to an annual performance appraisal from a committee of shareholders, that excludes directors, that is designed to confirm if the business is receiving best value in terms of the performance of its directors. A possible question posed at this appraisal could have been, "what have you done during the past twelve months that has had a positive impact on Everton's financial performance?" The possible answers?

Bill Kenwright - Nothing

Robert Earl - Less than Nothing

Jon Woods - Absolutely Nothing

Philip Carter - The same as for the past thirty years.

Further questions need to be asked and more importantly answered. Questions surrounding the true ownership of the club due to statements being made by a source familiar to Everton's situation and a former director, both of whom allege that a third party, officially acknowledged as an advisor to the board, has financed the purchase of 49% of the share capital and has dictated policy and even dispensed with the services of a former employee during a crucial period of Everton's history.

Section 741(2) of the Companies Act 1985 identifies a shadow director as a person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the company are accustomed to act (although a person is not deemed a shadow director by reason only that the directors act on advice given by him in a professional capacity). A de facto director is a person who performs the functions of a director but who has not been formally appointed as a director; that is a person who undertakes functions that should probably only be discharged by a director and who has an equal ability to participate in decision making.

KEIOC's secretary has long since advocated the replacement of the board with an interim body to oversee the sale of the club based on a belief that the current board cannot be trusted with the future wellbeing of the club due to the quite appalling decision to firstly pursue, then continue with, the proposed move to Kirkby when it was clear that no adequate business case for relocation could be produced as could no deliverable funding plan be demonstrated. The result of the boards actions has cost the club millions and has put us back at least five years; a devastating blow to the club and the responsibility for which is clearly the boards, whether acting of their own volition or under the control and direction of another.

A business case should not be confused with a mere desire to achieve a given result.

KEIOC would encourage supporters to take a greater interest in what is happening at Everton, we would ask supporters to inundate the Everton fans forum with questions regarding the ownership and the business plan adopted by the club which is having a significant and detrimental effect on our onfield activities.

We would ask supporters to engage with or join one of the many excellent fan groups that are run by dedicated Evertonians who give up their time freely for the club they support. KEIOC may not be to everyone's taste but there are other groups now prepared to take up the mantle of dissent. Past accusations of aggressiveness and abruptness against KEIOC are understandable, but this was a tactic born of necessity and shaped by the actions of those we felt were intent on the destruction of our club's future. Today KEIOC remain focused on the pressure that can be applied to organisations that can shape the future of Everton Football Club.

For perhaps the more reflective and thoughtful supporter Evertonians for Change promote an agenda based on communication, discussion, debate and engagement with the club.

For the more proactive supporter, one who would like to see change promoted through direct action and demonstration Evertonians for Action could perhaps give the opportunity to interact with like minded individuals.

There's even talk of the formation of a supporters trust, Trust Everton, through which supporters can become an integral part of the club.

Perhaps you are unable to commit time and energy to engage with these groups but still feel something should be done to lift the malaise from Goodison; perhaps something as simple as obtaining a soon to be available amber and blue protest scarf, reclaiming our club and reclaiming our bird, would be enough to show your solidarity with all Evertonians who agree something needs to change, because there can’t be a single Evertonian out there who doesn’t want our club to change for the better so let's all get together and unite under a common belief.

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