At the end of another season, we find ourselves in a quandary that seems all too familiar. Despite our new investor (Moshiri) ploughing millions into the club and the area as a whole (I love that he bought the Liver building for obvious reasons) we find ourselves in the usual uninspiring situation.
As we have found out this season, having money does not always equal happiness. Despite shelling out millions of pounds on new players, some of these players have not lived up to expectations. Davy Klaassen is one such player that seemed to have the ability to inject some excitement into our season and I don’t need to remind you what happened there. On the other side of the coin, we have brought Cenk Tosun into the field and after a shaky start he appears to be on the cusp of making a much-needed difference up front. Yes, we have sold players over recent seasons too and made a few million quid doing so
I don’t really understand, however, why there is such hatred and vitriol levelled at our chairman Bill Kenwright. While I agree that he has never been a flamboyant, media savvy type and this can only be seen as a hindrance in the media rich world we live in today, I do feel that he is unjustly pillorised by a section of our fan base. Yes, I know that Bill historically hasn’t had deep pockets and because of this, we’ve always been seen as a frugal club who had to keep tight reign on the purse strings, but our situation has led us to do some very good business in the transfer market. Names like Ross Barkley, John Stones and Tim Cahill are evidence that you don’t need to spend hundreds of millions of pounds to get hold of quality players despite what Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd would have you believe.
The main complaint levelled at Kenwright is lack of action bringing the necessary investment to the club. As you’d expect, identifying the right investors with the right skills and motivations are not easy at all. You then need to sit down and negotiate while performing the necessary checks to ensure due diligence and that the appointment won’t blow up in your face when we discover the prospective investor was a wife beating money launderer (hypothetically). I do agree, however, that the process of securing the right investor and has taken a long time and I hope that the “fairy godfather” Mr Moshiri rewards our faith in him by offering the necessary funds and his business acumen where these will be most beneficial. In fairness, I think that the recent reshuffle and departures in the boardroom give us hope in this cause.
While as an Evertonian, I have long prayed for investment and become frustrated when opportunities to secure this have passed by. However, I do have experience in high value diplomacy and this means that I understand how long these things take and what the pitfalls are in these circumstances. Remember the way the newspapers talked up the Indian investors the Jain Group in 2011 and how well negotiations were going? This investment never materialised and the fans became increasingly frustrated after stories about every interested party was irresponsibly leaked by the media and then fell by the wayside. A great deal of this frustration was directed at Bill personally as fans impatiently and continually asked him why he hadn’t found the investment we needed and why we didn’t have the money to buy players, indeed, words like “Arteta Money” are forever burned into our collective consciousness. These words show a poor understanding of economics and what it takes to run a business in the modern age.
Let’s face facts here, Kenwright only became involved with Everton because he loves the club like we do and there are stories of his childhood as an Evertonian that speak to all of us. While Bill is a successful theatre promoter and this has enabled him to live a comfortable life, his attitude to entertainment is the same as his attitude to football and Everton. By his own admission, Kenwright could have made a lot more money promoting big name shows but he chooses to only support productions he believes in which is why he spent nearly a million pounds of his own money producing the Greek tragedy Medea in 1994. This self-belief has also manifested in his time at Everton.
I know that mistakes have been made, with hindsight, Steve Walsh was not the appointment that we all thought it would be. This hasn’t worked for Everton but Walsh came with great experience and a proven pedigree and I hope that his tenure with us won’t damage his reputation and that Marcel Brands can succeed where Walsh failed. In addition, I couldn’t write this piece without mentioning David Moyes which was Bill’s best appointment ever. Moyes succeeded in playing decent football while managing to even get us into the Champions League once on a shoestring budget and stayed with us for over a decade in a time when clubs seem to sack their managers at least once a season. This speaks of mutual respect and loyalty between chairman and manager and the fact that Moyes is now regarded as a joke in certain sections upsets me and I hope his next job is successful.
The one blot on Bill’s copybook is undoubtably Sam Allardyce. I was very surprised and even annoyed when he was appointed. But, to be honest, the club was in a bad place after being knocked back by Watford over Silva and they needed to appoint someone quickly to stop the uncertainty further eroding performances on the field. While I agree with most of you that Sam is overrated and I’m glad he is gone, he was the one to step up and join the peoples club when we needed someone.
Finally, over the years we have seen what happens when people who don’t care about football or the club they join have been left to run the business. Names like Oyston and Tan spring to mind and I’m very glad that we had Bill who loves the club rather than one of these “businessmen” with no history or relationship with the game. I for one, say “Thank You” to the man who put himself at the helm with only love in his heart.