The full extent of the chaos of the Moshiri years is reaching its crescendo. Nothing quite encapsulates the sheer dysfunctionality of his tenure as majority shareholder as three of the four directors resigning at a critical juncture in the club’s history “with immediate effect”. So much so that the club was unable to announce interim directors immediately to fulfil the company’s requirements as per its own Articles of Association. Article 13 states that the number of directors of the company shall not be less than three.
Not only is the abruptness of their departure a discredit to the club, the people who work there and its various stakeholders, but it is couched in self congratulatory praise. A group of people who have overseen the worst operating performance in the company’s life time, the worst financial performance, permitted the exposure to risk that building a huge infra-structure programme without a fully funded solution entails and abandoned any form of governance in permitting the (admittedly errant) owner every sort of liberty in interfering with how the club is run. The contrast between this reality and the delusional departing statement could not be more stark.
Added to the above, it is not the least surprising that the as yet to be departed Chairman added “This has been a great Board who have all worked tirelessly for the Club, no matter what the circumstances. My relationship with Denise has been known as one of the closest in football. I thank her for her many achievements, particularly her magnificent work in respect of our new stadium.” Utterly delusional, bizarre and totally inappropriate.
So what happens next?
Clearly interim directors have to be appointed in order to meet the obligations of the articles of association. One would imagine that senior employees such as Richard Kenyon (Chief Commercial and Communications Officer), Paul McNicholas (Chief Governance and Technology Officer) or perhaps James Maryniak (Director of Finance) could perform a (very) interim role.
In the meantime, urgently, the position of Chair has to be resolved. One suspects the reason for Bill Kenwright maintaining his position as Chairman for 48 hours longer is no more than an opportunity for him to have centre stage at the point of his departure, however if it is a last ditch effort to retain a role in the club after decades of failure, then Moshiri who is in London today, must do what should have been done seven years earlier and end his relationship with the club.
The hard work starts then. MSP Sports Capital in bringing in fresh capital to continue the Bramley-Moore build programme will bring in much of the significant change demanded by fans for many years.
The appointment of George Downing as Chair and Andy Bell as a director (executive or not) plus subsequent representation from MSP itself, puts a competent board in place for the first time in many years. Better people, more widely experienced, with a clear plan and it has to be said, a direct interest in the advancement of the club should steer us towards calmer waters.
That in itself though is not enough, something that they will be acutely aware of. The full funding of the stadium project, the change of corporate culture and objectives, the handling of the Premier League independent commission, the solution to funding Kevin Thelwell and Sean Dyche’s efforts to reconstruct a competitive squad will all feature highly in their agendas and planned work programmes.
What of Moshiri?
As it stands immediately he has lost a board that bizarrely and inexplicably he not only supported but praised frequently despite all the contrary evidence. He has not lost control completely of the club by virtue of his shareholding, but the reserved matters that MSP Sports Capital will require alongside their funding will restrict his ability to act as he has before.
Moshiri, in my opinion, is equally culpable (as the board) in the situation our club finds itself in. He will attempt to continue funding through debt despite the huge burden the club already carries. He will do so to attempt to maintain his equity position for as long as possible, hoping to recover some of his significant losses. The new board must not allow an increased debt burden and the servicing of that debt to reduce and negate the benefits of the new stadium. Although ultimately in the hands of shareholders, the new board must resist further issuance of debt and seek new investment through the issue of new shares, thereby reducing future interest payments and through dilution reducing Moshiri’s majority position to that of a minority shareholder. The strongest and most competent of finance directors is required going forwards.
The initial relief of achieving some of many fan campaign objectives in the removal of the board must quickly give way to the realisation that the work ahead will be extremely challenging even for a competent board and new investors.
They must be given time to work in their solutions. We must hope that aside from the financial challenges the new board recognise the massive amount of work required in winning back the trust and support of the fan base, the need for truthful, direct, communications and meaningful engagement. It’s often been said that the Everton fanbase are the club’s greatest assets, something I fundamentally believe is true. I am sure our new directors and investors are sufficiently wise to recognise this and as they must, make use of every asset available to them.
This period represents an enormous shift in the powerbase and decision making processes within the club. This shift and the further changes to come represent our only real chance of recovery, and for that are welcomed and we offer the people coming into the club our complete support in the work they are about to undertake.