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