On 27th February 2023, the seventh anniversary of Farhad Moshiri’s initial acquisition of 49.9% of Everton’s shares will pass. Seven bewildering years of missed opportunities, appalling recruitment, huge financial losses culminating in a situation today which even Moshiri acknowledges as times with almost existential threats to our future.
The seven years can be summed up succinctly as “leaderless”
The great ship Everton is floundering. Any management student, practitioner or academic can see it, business owners, the media, football fans and indeed football club executives elsewhere can see it.
We can see it by the absent director box seats at Goodison, we can see it by the lack of accountable, accurate, meaningful communication, we can see it by the actions and performance of the institution that is Everton Football Club.
We can see it from the fact at the very time the board and owner need to stand up and be counted, provide direction, acknowledge the difficulties, accept responsibility, and provide problem solving capabilities we get the reverse.
“The ultimate measure of a man (person) is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
There is no doubt that as a football club we are in crisis – a crisis not created by a lack of resource, a shortage of capital over the years, but by a shortage of leadership.
Moshiri’s seat at Goodison Park has been empty for more than 16 months. The board’s home seats for several weeks since the Southampton game – the scene of a totally peaceful post match sit in, inexplicably and irrationally blamed on the instructions of their security teams relating to unproven and unreported, non-specific threats from persons unknown.
However the empty seats are just a visual representation of a board through a lack of its own leadership, and that of the club’s now 94% shareholder, who through their own actions have made their positions untenable at Everton, not just Goodison Park.
They’re untenable because their behaviours (let alone performance over many years) leave them with no authority, integrity or authenticity. No other business would be tolerant of a board of directors who are asked to stay away from their place of work in fear of damaging the core product – our footballing performance and struggle to remain in the Premier League and the likely reaction of fans to their presence.
True leadership demands qualities such as trust, integrity, selflessness, a willingness to listen but above all else acuity. Acuity can be defined as the ability to think accurately and clearly, to think about what in a given business situation is best for the company you own, direct or manage.
So what is best for Everton?
In recent months it has become an accepted wisdom that Everton fans want change. But what does that really mean? Sure, we want a change in performance, we want a winning side that plays attractive football, a group of players that fans can relate to and a club that represents the qualities and characteristics of our club, that we as fans can so readily identify.
However, I believe the call for change goes much further than that. It goes to the heart of performance issues, yes, we want an owner and a board that are truly competitive at Premier League, European and indeed even global footballing levels. We want an owner that is recognised as being “the model” owner, we want a board that leads the footballing world in a way which is consistent with periods throughout Everton’s history when we did just that.
However, speaking for myself (and hopefully many other Evertonians) I want people whose qualities I can identify with as being worthy of owning and running Everton Football Club.
I no longer want to have to question the motives, the sincerity, the integrity and authenticity of our board and owner. I want us all to be secure in the knowledge that not only are these people adequately skilled to take on the best competitively, but they do so from a position that says their sole interests lie in the betterment of Everton Football Club. People that can speak with integrity, in the knowledge that because their motives are clear, no one need question the voracity of what they are saying. People who can speak with authority because they are adequately skilled, adequately experienced and are operating in line with a coherent strategy to return us to the top of the game once more.
Clearly the current board and executive can not deliver against any of the above, hence the demand for change. Change not only in the leadership of the club, but change that brings leadership into the club.
In an ideal world, the current board would recognise the absurdity of their own position and resign in an orderly manner, allowing Moshiri to appoint interim corporate recovery style management in the short term at least. However, that is not going to happen is it?
Therefore change has to come from Moshiri. Seven years after taking control, he has to exercise control. Leaving the current board in situ will only continue our accelerating decline.
It is well documented that Moshiri has been seeking investment, to assist in the financing of the final stages of the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore. Equity investment that would allow additional debt financing to complete the stadium for sometime during the 2024/25 season.
This represents an opportunity for change. It represents an opportunity for Farhad Moshiri to put his trust in a new group of people. People who not only have their own capital invested in the club, but who bring expertise, insight, fresh ambition and the qualities of integrity and authenticity (if not authentic why would they invest?) to the Everton board. People who could assume the leadership roles so sadly and desperately abandoned by Farhad Moshiri and the current board.
New investors, new directors, new executives represent our only hope of reversing the difficulties the club faces. Of course, we still shouldn’t discount the prospect of a complete sale of the club, but given the crystalisation of losses that would arise from that for Moshiri, a partial sale and the prospect of a more favourable valuation in future years seems the most likely outcome.
We, as fans, as the true custodians of the football club, the constant ever present, beating heart of a great institution need do much more to maintain pressure on Moshiri to make the changes described above in the shortest possible period of time. We, the club, have been leaderless for many years, but we cannot afford to continue to be so. We all hope (not that hope should be considered a strategy) for Premier League survival, but we must seek the changes above.
The only safe ship in a storm is leadership – Faye Wattleton
We cannot allow Farhad Moshiri to put off the actions he should have started seven years ago. We cannot allow him to leave us leaderless any longer, given the enormous competitive issues the club faces. In the absence of real action by Moshiri, be that changing his now untenable board immediately or confirmation of new part or full ownership with new personnel brought into the business, a much larger proportion of the fan base has to become active in the demands for change.
To be seeking leadership seven years into Moshiri’s reign is the most damming indictment of his time as Everton shareholder. He substituted the need for leadership with large injections of cash, this strategy failed due to his lack of direction and the absence of the necessary skills and experience of his board members. We cannot wait another day longer, for him to make the personnel changes necessary.
The removal of the existential threats he is aware of, rely upon it.
Categories: Ownership & Leadership
Brilliant summary of last 7yrs. Just shows how much we need change.
A very perceptive and, by now, a well travelled critique of a badly led club. For me, Bill Kenwright’s well-meaning but increasingly unsuitable and blinkered operational leadership has created a ‘cosy culture’, emanating form the ‘Luvvy’ world of theatre impresarios but so lacking in any real accountability other than loyalty to ‘Blue Bill’. In every facet of sports management in the modern world and at elite level he offers a 20th century model that has been outdated and outpaced by other clubs, even those of more modest size and tradition. The question I find difficult to answer is why would Moshiri persist with allowing Bill to continue and what, if anything, will make him realise that his investment is not safe whilst Bill is at the helm? I find it truly bizarre.
Totally agree Jeff, thanks for commenting
Well the simple answer is usually the right one: Moshiri is a bagman for someone else (who we know is sanctioned), therefore has no real power or money and Kenwright has controlling share power, regardless of how small that share is (just like Zuckerberg at Meta and everyone can see how that is playing out.)
Problem is we can’t do anything about it.
Every word of this is a tragic truth. A greater truth is that the decline of our club began before Farhad Moshiri invested and eventually became majority shareholder (I purposefully avoided the phrase ‘controlling interest’: everything that has happened since his involvement has demonstrated the polar opposite of control) Mr Moshiri relied on a board of directors who clearly are bereft of the skills required to operate a football club in the 21st century. He can be forgiven for his initial assumption that they did, but he cannot be forgiven for either remaining blind to their collective incompetence or his lacking the will to make necessary and effective improvements at boardroom level. Nor can he be forgiven for directly meddling in team affairs.
Along with my fellow blues I can only hope that he is successful in acquiring the necessary investment required to see out the BMD development. Additionally, it is essential that the investment is tied in to the introduction of competent new blood at boardroom level and the removal of those who have clearly been failing for a long time.
Up the Blues!
Spot on Neil. Time for change
Paul, another great article which I’m going to say demonstrates that the campaign has to bring together and select a variety of human resources that can spend some time (assuming they are willing), that can use its expertise to focus the next stage of fan activity. This will be to support the ongoing protests.
That resource should produce a 10 point plan (no.TBD ), to put to FAB. everybody has to set aside their egos, set aside personal mistrust and focus on the plan to give to FAB.
WHY FAB? FM has repeatedly stated his willingness to use this vehicle to communicate. Albeit we don’t like some of the responses we have had, this interaction has produced the closest thing to detail that we have ever had under this regime.
So use it! Use it to present a 10 point plan on what we collectively want now. Play him at his chosen game with a ball (FAB) that he has given us. That might be more detailed answers to some very specific questions drawn from our fan expertise and Human Resources. Based on the responses we may ask further detailed questions or offer up a selection of options that FM has to respond to.
This is the way you use the available channels to get what what we all want. Just to be clear, I have nothing to do with any of the existing FAB members and I don’t know any of them.
If FM doesn’t want to play with the ball he brought to the game (FAB) then it will demonstrate to all that he is not a man who can be trusted with our future and the campaign will gain further support. It also shows that we are prepared to communicate, we are prepared to organise ourselves in a more productive manner and we are prepared to compromise in a way that shows we are better than them and want the best for EFC.
if you’d rather not have the prison sentence that is Everton, you can always walk away – but few seem to want to do that – enjoy your servility, you don’t want justice, you don’t want freedom, you just want somebody to love ….(David Byrne got it right!)
I can only think that BK has something on Moshiri. Hmm, now what could that be ……