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Friday, September 9, 2011

An Open Letter To The Chairman


Dear Mr Chairman,

We believe the time has arrived to initiate a change at Goodison Park; not simply a change for changes sake, we’re proposing a historic change, a change that will act as the catalyst for Everton, our manager and our players, to once again have the opportunity to become a truly competitive force in English top flight football.

We would like to clear up a misconception; nobody believes there’s a magical solution to Everton’s financial situation, nobody believes there’s a stockpile of money or that every penny possible hasn’t been used for the benefit of the team; all Evertonians appreciate that football is a business, a competitive business where owners are responsible for the delivery of funds to the manager through either personal investment or successful and cohesive commercial strategies.

A decade long search for investment has proved fruitless, and what remains inescapable is that during this time Everton’s business performance has resulted in a fundamental decline in the financial position of the club; specifically, a massive reduction in the balance sheet position, a substantial increase in debt and a real decline in operating profit. During this period Everton’s broadcasting income has increased by over 300% yet when it comes to developing our commercial income it is the inability to address the key issue of the stadium that has left us trailing in the wake of our peers.  The consequence, of all of this, is there for all to see; despite protestations to the contrary, our club is unable to support our manager and therefore our team.  At a time when over £485,000,000 was spent by other clubs investing in their core business activity, football, it is shameful that not a single penny was spent by Everton.

Nobody can refute that attempts to improve our financial performance haven’t been undertaken. Strategies, that have been implemented, by a succession of CEO’s, include, the sale of assets, borrowing, selling a percentage of the club, two potential ground moves and a proposal to build a new commercial centre at Goodison Park. The first two have been acknowledged as unsustainable and clearly cannot address Everton’s underlying financial problems, whilst the remainder have all failed to materialise. Many see the failure to deliver the truly world class King’s Dock stadium as the greatest missed opportunity in Everton’s history; whilst others now see the pursuit of the unfathomable, undeliverable and unsuitable Kirkby stadium as the greatest mistake by an Everton board in over 130 years.

There have of course been successes; yet even successes hide potential problems. Fifty years ago Sir John Moores purchased our then training ground for £26,000; last year it was sold for £9,000,000; sadly, this legacy from Sir John, was used to repay debt. The fantastic replacement training facility, Finch Farm, has been leased from another company for an astronomical amount of money payable over fifty years; this legacy, for future owners, will simply be one of debt.

We began by explaining that we all understand that football is a business, but, Mr Chairman, as a fellow Evertonian, we think you of all people will agree that football clubs are far more than this; they’re cultural assets and their owners are mere custodians who have a responsibility not only to the business, under the companies act, but also to their fans and the future generations of fans who will support our club when we are no longer here. With this in mind we would ask you to have the courage to accept that the performance of the current board has fallen far below that which is required and we are requesting that you should initiate the following action.

We respectfully request that you, Messrs Earl, Woods, Carter and all Everton shareholders, should agree on a mechanism to appoint an autonomous group of professionals that will undertake the identification and selection of potential buyers of the club who will oversee the sale to the potential owner who can best demonstrate the resources, ability and a genuine desire to take the club forward on both a commercial and football level.

Mr Chairman, it is a long time since the club’s Latin motto has been adhered to; faced with a difficult and momentous decision we would ask you to be guided by another, facta non verba.

The Blue Union

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