Great leaders and companies speak properly and with conviction to their customers – they trust their own competence and their customers and know how vital it is to build and retain trust. Not Everton, it’s a poor man’s corporate press release. Tellingly, it’s normally reactive to fan events.
If there was a song for where Everton fans think we are and fear where are heading, I would shortlist ‘We’re on the road to nowhere’ by the Talking Heads. Farhad Moshiri’s latest blundering vanilla missive says very little other than ‘I hear you but we’ve got this’. He and the Board are not reading the room, albeit the rest of the Board may well not have any desire to, given where much of the #AllTogetherNow objective and discord is pointing.
I have worked at reasonably senior level in business, as have many other Evertonians, and am fully aware that communication is tough, particularly in dark times. You can’t tell all, you won’t please all but clarity and frequency of communication are critical and 2 A4 pages in a year and some pretty generic corporate buzzword efforts from the CEO (23/12/22) just don’t cut it. Of course, there appears good news on the new stadium and the club should be praised for the Fan Advisory Board and Fans Forum. BUT, our club is in peril, the strategic review (which I’ll come back to) reflects that and the fans are increasingly resigned to what feels like the inevitable. It will be hard for the fans to step up and have the same impact it had last year. From a playing perspective, that is down to Frank Lampard and the players, hopefully with some additions to an imbalanced and threadbare squad.
So what could and should the Board be communicating?
Well , first up, the tone and frequency needs to be better and more. A4 one pagers just seems to be increase the sense of distance between the Board and fans.
What could they be talking about (without sharing trade secrets)? Well, the strategic review would seem the obvious starting point but not that it has taken place but what the key pillars are. As a lifelong fan, beyond a new stadium, I have NO IDEA on what the key elements of the strategy are. I think it would be enormously helpful if greater transparency and clarity was given. Authoritative passionately communicated information on the following areas would be a great first step. The late Dec DBB ‘progression’ note falls short. How about
- Honesty of where we are
Some mea culpa of the situation we are in and the constraints that puts on the business (e.g. on transfers we need to go with loans that are smartly structured, need to cut the playing wage bill further) and where the operational focus therefore is.
- Clarity of where we are aiming to head to
That should include key information from the strategic review and the DoF 120 point plan. It’s not detailed sensitive information but it should be some detail on the direction. What are the important pillars of the review that could be shared?
-Are we aiming to be a club that buys lows, gives talent chance and accepts we sell on (i.e. Onana) until the financial are healthy?
-Are we specifically aiming to become a club that focuses on say, British talent as a point of difference to the sleazy ESL 6
-What are the key changes to the academy and scouting?
-A summary view on what the transfer strategy will be?
-Strategy and purpose of U21’s and 18’s and progress
Growing and improving commercial performance
-What commercial revenue growth opportunities the club is focussed on (e.g. is there a drive to target say, North America, what areas of sponsorship have growth potential)? Shares the successes, talk about the priorities.
-Who is responsible for what?
-What are the priorities?
If the club could talk about tangible objectives and progress, what they are aiming to do and what measures of success they are looking at, it would begin to develop a greater sense of transparency and rebuild some of the lost trust.
And how about talking directly to fans, the removal of the AGM says volumes for the desire to be truly accountable.
It continues to feel like a dysfunctional business, seemingly telling itself significant progress across the club is being made , dialogue with supporters is ahead of competitors and the fan structures are in place. The lack of meaningful, contextual and open communication is adding to the despair and uncertainty.