Everton failing as a club and a football business

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)
Everton owner Farhad Moshiri (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images) /
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Everton prepare for a game at Brentford tomorrow that begins a very testing run of fixtures that may be critical for the season’s outcome and indeed perhaps the club’s future.

There has been a lot of discussion and analysis about how and why Everton have reached this latest crisis and what, if anything, can be done to turn things around.

Although I’ve obviously addressed this to some extent before, another point I want to make is that it seems to me the Toffees are now failing both as a football club in the traditional sense and as a football business too.

A modern club is a slightly uncomfortable amalgamum of both a traditional sports club and an international multi-billion pound business.

Traditionally, there has been a tension between football and money. Of course, Everton has always been a business of sorts, which needed to entertain it customers tha fans so they will pay for it’s product, make enough money to pay players and staff and invest in the team’s future.

But, these clubs were quite unique ventures. For a start, they were often run in a different way from most other businesses and in some ways they more closely resembled modern charities in which the profit motivation is not the most important to the organisation. And, they would often be sustained while just about breaking even financially or even making a loss for a while.

In addition, for most of it’s history, football was very much a working-class sport and there was a culture of scepticism about the influence and impact of money in the game, and a strong tradition of maintaining distance between them.

Everton in fact are a perfect example of this history and tension. In the early sixties the Blues’ were known as the millionaires club because of their extra wealth and financial power over others due to the fact their chairman was John Moores, the local owner of the Football Pools business.

Moores put his considerable money into the Toffees’ and this helped manager Harry Catterick sign several expensive players (such as Alan Ball for a then-record fee in 1966) that enabled Everton to win two league championships and the FA Cup during that decade.

This caused controversy and resentment and it was one of the first examples in modern times that a club was accused of ‘buying’ trophies, a claim we’ve heard a lot of in recent years, particularly in the case of Chelsea’s and Manchester City’s success.