Early January, and as has been the case for a number of years since the re-installment of General Meetings, several hundred Everton shareholders will make their way to the Royal Philharmonic Hall on Hope Street (appropriately enough).
On the face of it, a billionaire owner, plans submitted for a new stadium, a renowned Director of Football, a multi-Champions League winning manager and the most expensive squad we have ever assembled. What is there “not too like”?
The paradox that is Everton is that despite all the above, the feeling we’ve lost our way, our identity, that we are not managed as well as previously should no longer be considered hyperbole. It’s true to say there’s genuine concern over the sustainability of the current business model, let alone the spectacular lack of improvement and advancement on the pitch.
Thus a platform exists for the directors and majority shareholder to demonstrate how we sail to calmer waters, how our business model becomes sustainable, how our stadium is financed and finally and most importantly what is to be done to support Brands and Ancelotti in their quest to take us to new and higher glories than before.
Traditionally at the end of the meeting the Chair opens the floor to shareholders and their proxies.
As an aide-memoire for those attending, perhaps some or all of the following questions may be asked, not to embarrass or trick the board members, but to provide some evidence and substance to the genuine concerns of fans and shareholders alike.
For Mr Moshiri:
- Numerically we have a very small board. Is it unreasonable to suggest that the board requires new members with skills and experiences, particularly in the areas of commerce and a track record of global income generation?
- Your financial commitment to the club is hugely appreciated by fans & shareholders alike. Now that you have complete control of the club (by virtue of having more than a 75% shareholding) how do you propose to treat, in future, the loans currently outstanding?
- You have previously expressed a desire not to dilute smaller shareholders in the club. With significant investment required by yourself to fund, at least partially, the difference between borrowings & the final cost of the stadium, how do you propose to structure the additional stadium funding?
For Mr Ryazantsev:
- The financial results (will) show continued expenditure greater than income. Specifically what are you and the board proposing to do differently now and in the future than in the past?
- The loss of the ICBC revolving credit facility was disappointing. What plans have you to find new credit facilities with main street lenders, rather than rely upon Rights & Media Funding to provide future credit facilities?
- Regarding the stadium, to what extent has the current financial situation caused concern with potential lenders? When the finance is finally agreed, to what extent do you expect restrictive financial covenants which may impact our ability to operate in the transfer window?
For the board:
- The association of football and gambling is thankfully coming under more scrutiny. In the light of the club’s commitment to the local community and the well-being of its citizens how appropriate is it for us to continue to have a gambling company as our main sponsor?
- In my opinion the club continues to under-perform in the areas of communications and press-relations. What plans do the club have to change current practices in order to improve in this area?
For Mr Brands
- What are your biggest current priorities? Compliance with profit and sustainability, our scouting structure, or the integration of each playing level across the club to a more unified, singular identity? If time permits could you explain your strategy in each of the three areas?
I look forward to a productive and informative meeting for the benefit of all attending and the thousands of fans craving for a brighter future.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum!