Opinion: The Turning Point?

Perhaps in the famous words of Winston Churchill, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning”.

Churchill’s quote came after the first Allied victory of WWII, after a whole series of defeats from Dunkirk to Singapore, the victory at El Alamein was ultimately the turning point.

The question is are we, Everton Football Club, at that turning point? Are we at a point where we can finally throw off the shackles of the past, the lack of ambition, the cautious thinking, the poor decision making and execution?

Are we about to see a change in Chief Executive Officer, Director of Football, manager and possibly Chairman and Deputy Chairman in the coming months?

Difficult two years.
The long-awaited arrival of a new investor rather than dawning a business revolution at Goodison turned into a series of blunders and poor performance in every respect.

Yes, we’ve seen significant investment by Moshiri, managerial changes and huge ins and outs on the playing side, but the commercial, communications and development revolution called for in the business have failed to materialise.

On the pitch the absence of strategy through the managerial changes and poor player recruitment have been apparent, and even the most ardent Walsh fan would be hard pushed to present any case for the success of the Director of Football role to date.

Look at what’s happened in the business in the last two years – painfully slow progress on the stadium, negligible progress on commercial matters and a further deterioration on the communications front. This at a time when our competitors leap ahead.

Whilst the top 6 seemingly sign new commercial deals on a weekly basis, we’ve been stuck in neutral.

Expensive errors.
The recruitment mistakes to date, and the lack of changes to the senior business roles have been hugely expensive for Moshiri.

It’s difficult to believe that many of the signings made would recoup a significant proportion of the fees paid. When one considers Klaassen, Sigurdsson, Bolasie & Williams combined cost more than £110 million the scale of the poor spending is there for all to see.

Managerial changes have cost in excess of £20 million with a likely further £6 million or thereabouts when Allardyce returns to his retirement in May.

Performance on the pitch has cost us dear too. Every Premier League place is now worth £2 million, so the fall from 7th is going to cost the club.

As is the absence of European football. Qualification for the Europa League would likely increase revenues by more than £10 million and depending upon how sponsorship contracts are written a likely total cost of £15 million by not qualifying and appearing in the Group stages.

Commercially, aside from the USM Finch Farm deal, there’s little to shout about.

Small deals with a derivative trading company and a tyre company are negligible in their impact, whilst the much vaunted Sportpesa deal looks very light in current market conditions. If the rumours of the true value of the Angry Birds deal are correct then again there’s plenty having been left on the table.

Tied into long contracts that will not expire until May 2019 the shirt manufacturer and distributor deals are hopelessly inadequate.

The delay in the opening of the stadium is expensive also. Not only is there the prospect of inflation, but arguably an additional year at Goodison will cost the club £25 million in lost revenues, before even looking at the potential loss of a year’s increased sponsorship and naming rights arising from Bramley-Moore.

Changes in personnel.
If we are to see a new Chief Executive Officer and perhaps see changes at board level, Director of Football and a new 1st team manager in the next few months then the recruitment policies to date need ripping up and re-written.

I’ve said it often but we now need the highest quality managerial appointments on and off the field. We need people who can buy into the development story that should be Everton.

Everywhere you look in the club there’s scope for change and improvement. Isn’t that the ideal scenario for most leaders? Be recruited into a well-resourced company with a clear development and progression plan? Work in a company or club that you can make a difference to?

The “to do” list
The “to do” list is huge.
For a new Chairman, it’s to construct a board capable of meeting the challenges of the “big 6”. It’s to present an identity of solidity, professionalism and a desire to advance.

That person has to be capable of taking the Everton name and selling it globally to all stakeholders. Internally, it is to create a corporate culture of “can do”, to be forward thinking and progressive.

For a new CEO, it’s to shake off the timidity of the past. It’s to be bold and aggressive. To rework the main variable income streams of commerce and sponsorship. It’s to present Everton in a manner consistent with our past and our club motto. It’s to take advantage of the numerous commercial opportunities globally that frankly we’ve ignored.

Most importantly, it’s to drive the delivery of the new stadium. It’s to conclude the design process with Dan Meis; close the finance deal with Liverpool City Council, complete alongside Farhad Moshiri the remaining funding; secure the planning permission, appoint the contractors and get a spade in the ground.

For a new Director of Football, it’s to define the role, secure responsibility and accountability; plan the structures required to integrate all the age levels and senior squads into an “Everton” way of doing things; most importantly it’s to get player recruitment right.

For a new manager, it’s to stamp an identity on the team; sort out those not required and fill the gaps where we are short; it’s to create a team that makes a big 7 viable; a team that gives everything and most importantly has the belief and confidence to go to the “big 6” and compete.

The scale of the manager’s challenge is the clearest indication of the appalling running of the footballing club these last two or three years. As important as all the other roles are, to a large extent their success depends upon the success of the manager and his football team – it is the most vital appointment to be made.

In his “end of the beginning” speech Churchill went on to say the Allies would in future, have better trained troops and better equipment than the enemy.

If the likely changes of the next few weeks/months are to be Moshiri’s El Alamein then he too has to recruit better personnel with better plans to see us battle against our competitors.

Having resourced the club, this is our turning point – we wished the early years of Moshiri’s reign had gone smoother. It is within his powers, and I’d suggest, his abilities to deliver at this time of change, so we too can move on to victories in the future.

By virtue of the successes of other companies he runs, now at this turning point is the time to apply those principles to Everton.

The Esk

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