The #27minutesfor27years campaign is an embryonic campaign like no other in the history of Everton Football Club. It’s an informal alliance of supporter groups, fan organisations and individuals with a clear purpose.
That sole purpose is to engage with Farhad Moshiri and bring about the changes in the running and management of the club that leads to success on and off the pitch. Ultimately, something that can only be addressed and executed by him in his role as majority shareholder.
The first action of the campaign was to ask fans supporting the objectives above to leave their seats on the 27th minute of the game against Arsenal. There was no attempt to differentiate between those that chose to do so and those that did not. This is not about passing judgement on fellow supporters, it is about engaging with the major shareholder regarding concerns expressed by the majority of the Everton fan base and all who support this campaign.
What is the case for asking for engagement?
Farhad Moshiri has since February 2016 had effective control of our club. Originally purchasing 49.9% of the equity from existing shareholders he has seen his holdings increase through further purchases and an issue of new shares to 92.17 %. He has supported the football club in a remarkable fashion financially. He has invested up to £685 million – £450 million in equity and debt, £135 million in purchasing existing shares and up to £100 million in funding the initial works at Bramley-Moore.
The campaign, along with almost all supporters recognises this financial commitment. Indeed, one of the key observations is that the fans interests and his interests are totally aligned. The financial and emotional commitment of the fans alongside Moshiri’s financial commitment both demand the greatest possible return. That return has to be a successful, well run, highly competitive, trophy winning football club.
Of course, as has been well documented here and is also universally acknowledged by the fan base the last six years have been an antithesis of a well run, highly competitive, trophy winning football club. Governance, recruitment, the role of the director of football and the financial performance has contributed to a highly inconsistent period on the pitch. A disparate collection of football managers and some baffling recruitment decisions have led to a decline in the quality and depth of the playing squad. This has led to a serious contraction of our competitiveness, sliding from arguably “the best of the rest” to mid-table obscurity at best, relegation candidates at worst.
Add to that woeful financial performance and the most peculiar of communication strategies from Farhad Moshiri, seemingly solely focused on Talk Sport and Jim White and the case for a campaign is compelling.
So what does the campaign wish to achieve?
The campaign set out three major objectives:
- A call for Farhad Moshiri as major shareholder, to make the management changes necessary to see an improvement in performance on and off the pitch
- A call for Farhad Moshiri to communicate in future through official club channels
- A call for Farhad Moshiri to engage, meet and discuss fan concerns with the fans
All the above are entirely reasonable. Why should Farhad Moshiri choose to comply with the above?
Firstly, he must recognise that the governance structure and the quality of the board and senior management teams have been the primary reasons for our under-performance. Managerial recruitment decisions without the input of the Director of Football, player recruitment from several (often without the knowledge of each other) senior personnel (including Moshiri himself); crippling financial performance suggesting poor governance and directly contributed to by poor footballing performance; commercial performance, academy performance and even questions over sports science performance (player fitness, injuries and particularly recovery times).
Secondly, communications. Is it really appropriate for the major shareholder to use a national radio show to present his thoughts at infrequent intervals and often without the prior knowledge of the club’s communications team? Is the choice of station appropriate given their ownership? Surely he must recognise that co-ordinated, planned and club endorsed communication gives him and the club a much more effective communication strategy?
Finally, to engage, meet and discuss with fans. Competing clubs see value in fan engagement especially in the current tumultuous environment of the Premier League with all its challenges (and opportunities). At a time when football is going to change significantly as a result of the Fan Led Review, to not engage, meet and discuss with fans seems churlish, arrogant and wholly counter-productive.
We are a club that prides itself in firsts, throughout our history leading the pack, being ground breakers, not followers. Our competitors are largely streets ahead of us, and in particular re Moshiri, when it comes to engagement. The fans are the most important stakeholders in a football club. We, and our children and grand-children will carry the candle for our club for many years after each owner and director have moved on. The value of the legacy commitment and the commitment of future generations has to be acknowledged and nearly a quarter of the way through the 21st Century, an owner who refuses to engage, meet and discuss is not only reading the room badly but is wilfully refusing to use a hugely valuable resource.
All of this against a backdrop of poor governance, weak leadership and in comparison to our peers, significant talent deficiencies.
The case for this campaign is clear, the reasons for asking Farhad Moshiri to meet the objectives is clear. Will he comply?
Impact of the #27minutesfor27years campaign
Asking fans to leave their seats was a high risk strategy. No-one could forecast how many would do so, nor the reaction of those that choose not to. Whilst the take up of the action was less than hoped for, generally there has been respect for both decisions. It demonstrates just as with all families, the Blue Family can have its differences yet still be supportive of the major cause, in this case Everton Football Club. Whether you walked or not, we are all Evertonians.
Undeniably though, the campaign has been a great success in attracting media attention. More column inches have been written, more broadcast media time and social media activity about the condition of Everton Football and in particular the relationship between fans, the club and owner than for many years. The recognition that perhaps all is not as it should be at Everton, not just the reporting of managerial change etc, is the first step in a wider acknowledgement of our problems and the need to address them through change at the top of the organisation. This media campaign will continue until a successful conclusion is reached.
What next for the campaign? The campaign will continue. There’s a need for visual representation – that might be banners for example, but there’s also the prospect of actions which can be more widely accepted and engaged in on the 27th minute of future matches and of course actions before and after games,
This is our club. We entrust the club to successive owners and their directors. If, as is the case now, we don’t see the progress being made or have concerns over the role and behaviour of the owner we are obliged to make those feelings known. Past generations of Evertonians would expect nothing more, future generations will ask why we didn’t.
As we have all stated, our interests are aligned. We respect Moshiri’s financial commitment but we believe being able to hold him to account and contributing to the future direction of the club can only be a good thing. The result being a successful, well run, highly competitive, trophy winning football club.
Nil Satis Nisi Optimum in everything we do, owner, club and fans