This article first appeared on Grandoldteam on 24th February 2016.
Given the uncertainty of timing and possibly identity of our new owners, I’ve pre-empted the situation a little by penning an open letter…
To our new owners and investors,
Congratulations on becoming the custodians of one of oldest and finest professional sporting institutions in the world. That’s not a glib comment – it’s true – you’re now custodians of something built over nearly 140 years, something that will outlast us all and continue into future generations.
As fans of this great old club, we need to ask a few questions – questions which are asked in the right spirit and hopefully answered in a similar manner – if so they will go a long way to starting the relationship on a decent footing.
The question is what should we expect from the takeover? The obvious answer is that depends upon the nature of it and the depth of the pockets of you, the new owners, but we’ll go a little deeper than that.
Let’s start by asking a few questions about the takeover itself.
- If the takeover is just an acquisition of the major shareholders holdings what are the plans for:
- Further fund raising – the club being desperately under-capitalised
- the existing debt within the club
- existing minority shareholders
- the existing board and management. The assumption is that they will be replaced, but by whom?
- How has the purchase of existing shareholders been financed?
- Who are the shareholders in the vehicle(s) used to acquire the majority shareholding?
- Has there been any debt used in the acquisition, and if so, where does the debt and liability for repayment sit?
Now, about what happens after the takeover…
According to a poll on GrandOldTeam, when asked to choose the three most important factors relating to the success of the takeover is as follows:
- Securing the existing squad and providing a good budget for summer strengthening – 70.1%
- A strong commitment to maintaining Everton’s values – 51.7%
- A commitment to redeveloping Goodison Park within a defined period – 40.7%
- A commitment to increasing commercial and sponsorship revenues – 39.3%
- An agreed plan for a new stadium – 38.7%
First and foremost we are football fans, and we’d like to see Everton competing not only for domestic honours but regularly in Europe. We’re not necessarily expecting wholesale changes in our squad, in fact the majority we’d like to keep but we do need strengthening in key areas.
We’ve a fantastic academy which has brought talent through to the first team and fringes of the first team, what are the plans to continue and develop their good work?
We’re an intelligent group of fans, we understand our club, its current position, we understand that to compete we need to grow our income. But we also understand to do this we need capital.
Therefore, whilst respecting the bounds of commercial confidentiality, what are the budgets for squad strengthening, the stadium issue (redevelopment or new stadium) and the working capital requirements of the business to grow commercial and sponsorship revenues? Further to the budgets, if not answered previously how will they be funded and which will be prioritised?
One of the most important aspects for more than half of the votes cast was the commitment to maintaining Everton’s values and I believe that starts in particular with a commitment to our club motto “Nil satis nisi optimum” – for all blues it is imperative we return to those ideals on and off the pitch.
For the majority of us our values are also tied in with our history, our position for many years, indeed the majority of our existence, as one of the leading forces in the game of football, innovators who developed the game and the experience of watching football as a spectator. Beyond that there’s the special value of being part of our club, “we’re born not manufactured”, “once Everton touches you”, our special relationship and value to the community of North Liverpool through the work of EiTC – all of this must be maintained, and if possible developed further.
We’d like to know your plans for maintaining our values and how we can develop them further.
We, the fans, believe we are a club with enormous untapped potential on and off the field. We want owners who recognise that and can provide a sensible plan and funding model to return us to the highest levels of the English and European games.
With the correct funding, strategy and business acumen we can return there, but we need answers as to the how and how it’s going to be funded.
We look forward to your reply.