Eau de Désespoir..... The New Fragrance from Hugo Bill
Throughout 2011 there’s been a whiff of anxiety emanating from Goodison Park; an unpleasant aroma that in recent weeks has turned into the stench of sheer desperation as the last vestiges of the integrity of Everton’s hierarchy disappears faster than a line of Bob Marley at a showbiz party.
The year started off badly for the board; with no incoming players in the January window and Steven Pienaar sold to Spurs, there followed an alarming set of financial results that included the startling admission that the £9m from the sale of Bellefield went to appease the banks, that staff costs had increased to an almost uncomfortable 70% of turnover and another £7m of debt had been added.
Whilst David Moyes dug deep to secure an seventh place finish, the off field turmoil continued in the second quarter. Following a BBC report on the latest and all too predictable evaporation of mysterious and elusive buyers, the Echo suddenly grew a pair and published a week long exposé into Everton’s finances which earned them the all too inevitable journalistic ban. The demise of the much vaunted Park End development produced four different explanations from club officials and the CEO valiantly told all and sundry of this well run club that spent 85p in the pound on Finch Farm and had produced robust financial results along with the usual claim that the club would be providing “some” money for the manager in the summer.
The summer came and went and saw no additions but two loan signings to the smallest squad in the Premier League; there were several departures in the form of Vaughan, Beckford, Yakubu and Arteta. The facade of the well run club was kept up until the publication of the report from three Evertonians who had met with Bill Kenwright and learnt the appalling truth about the banks being on the verge of closing the business down, of the willingness to sell to somebody who lived in a one bedroom flat, of a deluded chairman who had lost all sense of reality and couldn’t see the damage he was doing to the club he purports to love. The quarter ended with a march by disenchanted fans on Goodison Park, the protestors were disillusioned by the board, disillusioned by the lies, the deceit and the contempt shown to the fans by Everton’s hierarchy.
In the final quarter the consequences of sustained zero investment is beginning to tell, Everton are struggling to find their form and the back of the net; our traditional peers have moved ahead due to greater investment from owners adhering to more cohesive business plans. Prior to a planned second protest Everton’s PR machine went into overdrive and culminated in the news over Fellaini’s contract which should have conveniently averted press attention from the march but was overshadowed by the startling revelations of leaked emails from former Director of Communications, Ian Ross, who not only revealed that the management was in turmoil but that the club’s employees were being instructed by the board to conspire against their own fans who were legitimately expressing genuine concern at the dire situation at the club.
The sheer panic is palpable; Bill Kenwright suddenly wants to talk to everyone, he blames the “small minority” of fans for everything, and, in keeping with the email revelations on using club employees, Everton Legend Graeme Sharp, right on cue, shamefully claimed only one man and his dog were protesting. At the Wolves game Bill addressed the press room with a clear suggestion that recent revelations were attributable to the Blue Union before he made the most outrageous allegation of the day to Ian Wright on Absolute Radio where he claims that there’s a three hour tape recording of a meeting with Bill Kenwright on the Internet. Poor Wrighty was shocked, so were we; we all want to hear that tape Bill, any chance of a link?
Sadly a company’s culture is often defined by the actions of those in control; the Echo’s Dave Prentice wittily informed readers that Ian Ross hadn’t been suspended and that his move to another department was nothing to do with the revelations and had been planned for months before acerbically adding that it was not known what this new, planned for months, role was!
It’s hoped that the clubs latest purveyor of public relations advice, believed to be Paul Tyrell, a Liverpool supporting ex-journalist and someone having briefly held similar roles at Manchester City and Liverpool, will perhaps treat the fans with a little more respect; it starts from the top.
What ‘s inescapable here is that having read just one year’s worth of the catastrophes that Everton has suffered and that there’s been over a decade of similar calamitous behaviour by the club, for which the board will not take responsibility, the solution being recommended by the Blue Union is the only sensible suggestion being offered by anyone at the moment; their suggestion is that the sale process should be handled by professionals who can demonstrate expertise in the field of sports business disposal and that the sale should be conducted in the best interests of the club and not those who have brought the club to near financial ruin; nothing more nothing less, the alternative appears to suggest maintaining the status quo.