THE PEOPLE’S GROUP – STATEMENT
Wow, where do we start? It’s been a whirlwind two weeks, and the response and support to our campaign has been fantastic. After setting up email, Facebook and Twitter accounts (currently 5000+ combined followers), we set about sending our first letter (which highlighted our issues and concerns) to journalists up and down the country. We got great help on Twitter with followers also contacting journalists urging them to take notice of our campaign. We got a breakthrough with Chris Bascombe at the News of the World who decided to take up our story. He published an online article which acknowledged how some Everton fans might be reaching breaking point with the Everton board. We hoped this would set the trend but then the NOTW went bust, and we thought this could be a sign of things to come! We were wrong.
Talksport have had us on twice, Brian Reade published a fantastic article in the Daily Mirror, we have set up a website and Dave Prentice at the ECHO has mentioned us regarding the fan unrest. The very least we have done is raise awareness, get people talking about Everton about what is, or is not, happening at the Club. The issues raised in our initial letter have caused debates on forums, chat rooms, and indeed on our own Twitter and Facebook pages. What is also clear is this has split the fans. What it has also done is got the Club to come forward, twice, to try and give their side of the story. Credit where it is due, you might say. However, what the Club have failed to do again is answer the difficult questions. They have failed to look at our issues and concerns, and instead decided to come out fighting and let everyone know what a great job Bill Kenwright and the board are doing. Club PR officer Ian Ross told everyone on Talksport that 85p in every £1 goes to Finch Farm, whilst CEO Robert Elstone released a statement which stated that he said that he and Kenwright would not talk to fans who wanted their jobs.
Some fans have also contacted us to say we should just ‘get behind the team’ or ‘at least Bill is a blue and isn’t as bad as Johnson’ and ‘we don’t want to be a Man City and sell our soul to foreign owners’. Having digested what the board, Club and some fans have had to say, we feel that our points are being completely missed, or in some cases, ignored.
The first thing we want to emphasise is that we fully support David Moyes and the players. Moyes can have his critics with regards to his tactics and substitutions etc.. But overall it is a sterling job he is doing under the tightest of financial restraints. We have quality players that any Premier League side would have including Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, Marouane Fellaini, Mikel Arteta, and Tim Cahill. We have the leadership of Phil Neville, and the young guns including Jack Rodwell and Seamus Coleman. We support the team 100%. That can never be in question. It is improving on this team and squad that is the issue here.
Our issue is the Club’s inability to answer the issues raised. So without creating any further confusion as to what questions we want answering, here are the points in brief that we want the Club to answer.
- If the Club is for sale and you are desperate for a billionaire etc… tell us what you want for the Club? There can be no excuses if you really want to sell something so badly for not letting fans know the price. Surely letting us know what you want will open the door to a wider audience. Or is the Club’s asking price too much? Kenwright himself has told us that interested parties tick all the boxes, so he clearly feels there has been ‘the right buyer’. Therefore it is a money issue.
- What are Robert Earl, Jon Woods and Philip Carter’s input to the Everton board? Earl and Philip Green’s relationship and the BCR Sports Group registered to the British Virgin Islands in particular needs some serious looking into. After all, Earl has no intentions of investing in Everton Football Club, so why is he there?
- Tell us how you plan to increase revenue streams, and tell us why should a board who in 11 years, having twice failed to deliver a new stadium, having NEVER found investment (despite the admittance of several interested parties) be allowed to continue. Anyone else who fails in their jobs like this would have been sacked or resigned by now. Convince us how you aim to take us forward. It’s not just about this season, it is about the future too.
- With regards to the interested parties, tell us who they were. Tell us why they got to the last stages and all “disappeared” (Kenwright’s words, not ours). Tell us how all the money goes to Finch Farm but in the accounts £23m out of an £80m turnover, is classed as ‘other operating costs’.
- If the banks will not lend to us anymore, how do you intend to support the manager not just now, but next year and the year after? How do you intend to pay the banks back, with all our assets having already been sold?
- If you are serious about selling, and you have had no ‘luck’ so far, why not step down and put an interim board in place with the aim of selling the club. Martin Broughton anyone?
- If 85p in every £1 goes to Finch Farm, and every penny is “re-invested in the club”, where is the Bellefield money? The Steven Pienaar money? The James Vaughan money? Not to mention the loan fees we received for Joseph Yobo, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Vaughan.
- What has happened to the farce that is the Park End project? There has been a gaping gap in the wall all Summer, despite the club offering two different excuses as to why no ‘Everton Place’ has been delivered. It is embarrassing.
And in response to Robert Elstone’s blog last week when he said “should we engage with supporters who want us out of our jobs? We think not”. We think this sums our whole point up. We don’t want his job, we don’t want him out of a job. We just want him and the board to perform their jobs properly and answer the difficult questions, not the questions they choose to answer. If they cannot or refuse to do this, then maybe it is time to step aside.
The questions are simple, and it is about time they were answered. It is time for change in terms of the board’s refusal to answer questions. We as a Group do not believe we need a billionaire. The foundations are there thanks to David Moyes. The squad does not need a major overhaul and the ground issue can wait for now. Let us get the team challenging at the top end first, get the feel good factor back, get the ground sold out every week again, and the rest can follow. Moyes himself stated in May 2011
“Seventh might be as good as it can get for Everton with the resources and the way teams are spending now. I don’t think this football club needs hundreds of millions it just needs some fresh cash to try to start again and give us some impetus going into the new season.”
Well if Moyes thinks the same as us, we cannot be too far off can we?
We will continue working hard to get the media involved, to take up our issues, and to understand the fans frustrations. We will continue to build a good solid campaign. We do not advocate protests just yet, but if we keep getting ignored, and the Club refuse to engage with us, it may force us to reconsider our actions and aims as a Group. However, we want to remain as professional as can be, and we will stand by our aims for now.
We urge the media to run our story. We urge fans to back our campaign. Most of all, we urge the Everton Football Club Board to answer our questions. In the meantime we will get behind David Moyes and his team on the pitch.
We will not go away, and we will not be silenced.
It’s time for answers. It’s time for change.
The People’s Group