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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

To know the price of everything and the value of nothing


The badge fiasco; embarrassing, humiliating and shameful, yet entirely predictable and sadly all too unavoidable for a club of highly questionable ownership who, having achieved the dishonourable distinction of making the management of the White Star Line appear competent, offer their long suffering fans little prospect of improving their position both on or off the pitch in the foreseeable future.

For the casual observer, thinking that this was simply a genuine mistake, an uncharacteristic miscalculation, it isn’t; what it is is yet another mistake, yet another misunderstanding that can’t be apologized for and moved on from and it would be prudent for the uninitiated to become acquainted with the salient facts and understand that this is not simply a financial disaster for a cash-strapped club, but that the whole sorry episode is symptomatic of the “Carry on Kenwright” debacle that has been in full swing ever since the day an unsuitable owner struck a Faustian pact with a known tax avoider and secured the financial backing to make one of his many harmless delusions a dangerous reality.

How difficult is it to produce an acceptable badge that reflects the club’s history? How difficult is it to portray status through modern clean lines that can easily be replicated?  Firstly we engaged a brand expert to evaluate the new badge and this is what she said:

“Speaking as a graphic designer let’s strip the badge of its elements.

The Tower – shortened to reflect the actual shape of Rupert’s Tower with no ‘helter skelter’ as Everton called it in the roll out of the new crest. Critical comments made include, “it looks like a beehive.’ ‘It looks like the tin man’ ‘its navy!’ If the tower was lengthened it doesn’t look so bad. As it is it fails to represent Everton.

The Shield -   Fattened out at the bottom, like an American Police Badge, to cater for the word ‘Everton’ using the most hideous yellow border around the shape. Yes there was yellow around the old badge but the borders stroke wasn’t so thick. This is the real area that cheapens the crest.

The Typeface – ‘Everton’ and ‘1878’ namestyle is in a typeface which is not dissimilar to the old font which the Club used on the recent badge – there lies the problem. That font was awful too. It looks cheap. The mixture of upper and lower case doesn’t help either.

Summary – Bringing the elements together, a squashed navy tower, poor choice of typeface, a fattened –Americanised’ shield bordered with an overly thick yellow border and we have a rebrand which looks like it belongs to a ‘My First Everton’ range of merchandising.”

Then, in just ten minutes, a badge was produced that met what the brief should have been; this alternative, below, was produced by a lifelong Evertonian and whilst not to everyone’s taste it certainly doesn’t create the almost universal condemnation the supposed "market tested on fans" version that the incompetents produced.

It is said that fools often find greater fools to admire them and whilst the media offers the outside world a vastly different view of Bill Kenwright he’s long since been a laughing stock amongst city based Evertonians who fully understand that whilst ludicrous stories of the middleclass boy with holes in his shoes standing in the boy’s pen and being with Cavanagh in ’66 are just relatively harmless lies; the far more serious delusion of being a premiership chairman coupled with the illusion of a board is where the root cause of Everton’s problems are to be discovered.

It is beyond any doubt whatsoever that Everton's new badge is rubbish; what is surprising is that anybody thought that anything other than rubbish would be produced. The whole board are rubbish; they’re useless, unaccountable and remain continually unassessed. They employ people in key positions that are equally useless, unaccountable and unassessed; look at Kirkby, look at the Park End, look at the commercial acumen involving Kitbag and Nike, look at the stadium situation, look how the proposed sale of the club is mishandled and look how the Moyes situation was handled; a manager of eleven years left to run down their contract and left to initiate an exodus of most of the important backroom staff leaving us managerless and with our own infrastructure lacking. Coupled with everything else what an attractive prospect Everton are; let's take a moment to show how we got to where we are.

For the uninitiated amongst you the current custodians agreed to buy the club in 1999 from Peter Johnson, which, whilst desperately poor on the pitch, had won the FA Cup four years earlier. As a business there was £20m of assets on the balance sheet and they paid £22m for 76% of the club, valuing the business at slightly below £30m.

Today there are no assets on the balance sheet, only £44m of liabilities due to combination of record debt, the selling off all tangible assets and one of the smallest squads amongst our peers despite record turnover from the Premier League. The board, who have not invested a single penny into the club, are unable to address the stadium situation, save for introducing a series of ludicrous and undeliverable schemes, all of which have failed to materialise and have cost the club dearly, and have entered into a £3m a season contract for the sale of club merchandise which now appears to include a kit supply element and which uniquely prevents Everton from capitalising on its position as a major premiership club when negotiating a Kit Supply contract which has seen all clubs secure major funding from kit manufacturers; Manchester City only last week announcing a £12m a season contract from our supplier Nike whilst Everton embarrassingly receive nothing. Wanting to sell for a frankly bizarre figure in excess of £100m more than they paid for it, when in reality it’s worth less as they have demonstrably added zero value during their tenure any prospective buyer would be scared off due to the additional cost of buying out the most pathetic contracts in the clubs history which will prevent prospective buyers increasing revenue streams for years to come and still people in the media peddle the myth that Kenwright and co are good directors and have run the club well; with the help of the staff they've hired they've run it into the ground.

Everton’s board are both unaccountable and unassessed in their performance; that is to say their positive or negative impact on the business is unknown. Apart from telling embarrassing stories what does Bill Kenwright actually do? What does John Woods do? What does Robert Earl do and last, and definitely least, what does Philip Carter do? If they’re not having a positive impact on the business the question begs, why are they directors?

Everton has a deserved reputation for lying to their fans, Everton told their fans they were getting £52m from Tesco towards the cost of the Kirkby stadium; this was a lie. They told them they couldn’t relocate to a new Park End facility during the course of a season due to logistical problems and all the partners were happy with the arrangements; this was another lie. They persistently tell all and sundry that they abandoned the traditional annual general meetings due to abusive behaviour during the meetings, that they were hijacked; this is another lie. The only abusive behaviour remembered was when a director told the assembled shareholders a story which the leader of the council, who was in the audience at the time, challenged him on and which he was unable to provide an answer because it was another lie.

It’s unsurprising that the club has this reputation, the board itself is a lie due to being made up of nominee directors, answerable to others, and puppets who serve no other purpose than to make up the numbers.

History will be unkind to Bill Kenwright, as history will not reflect the fantasy world he inhabits at the moment which he clearly belives in due to sycophants massaging his illusion; the reality being his performance is without doubt the worst of any director in the club’s 135 year history.

It’s time the fans were told what was said in the additional two hours of the interview with Kenwright, how Moyes refused to read out a statement saying how wonderful the chairman was, how players were talked about, how disparaging comments were made of their families, “they can hardly speak, barely grunt” was how one family was disgracefully described, how the chairman is frankly living on another planet and shouldn’t be in charge of making the tea let alone a premiership football club and how the banks put their man into the club and how the chairman had to work alongside him; that’s how bad a state Everton were in.

Are we in a better position today? After failing to support the manager in January when he asked for money and support, even Moyes has had enough. On the footballing side he’s taken who he needed to take to United and now there needs to be a significant infrastructure rebuilding programme; don’t be expecting a Baines or a Fellaini or an Arteta to be unearthed anytime soon. On the commercial side it’s even worse, they’re all still there, the people out of their depth selected by people out of their depth aided by the rejects from other clubs.

Earlier this week a document purporting to have been compiled by current head of communications Paul Tyrell, when employed at the club he supports, Liverpool FC, entered the public arena. The document  is an overview of a number of Liverpool fans and journalists who were seen as enemies of the then neocon regime at Anfield; it is little more than a blacklist and you would have to be completely naive to believe that something similar is not in operation at Everton where Tyrell currently plies his trade. Another mistake by the board, will it be ignored? Names of Evertonian fan activists along with misinformation on their activities have been mentioned at meetings between members of the senior management team and certain individuals; it’s an old trick, divide and conquer.

Returning to the badge, this latest monumental mistake by the commercial team will cost the club dearly as no Evertonian in their right mind will buy anything containing that monstrosity and kitbag are unlikely to be handing over £3m for what they do sell. £3m, all we get for handing them our merchandise sales AND control of our kit supply agreement. The people responsible aren’t just the commercial team, we all know the real culprits, it's the board who employed them and it's the board who allow them to continue making mistake after mistake because they’re no better. Any attempt to pretend the board where unaware of the badge will just be them reverting to type, lying.

Get them out, get the board out and bring in the professionals to put the club on a better footing.

Clearly frustrated fans have had enough, twenty thousand letting the club know their best efforts aren’t good enough and a petition demanding the resignation of CEO Robert Elstone can't be wrong; the premiership is no place for losers.

Petition

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