More conflict between Everton board and fans is so badly timed.. again

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Executive of Everton and Bill Kenwright, Chairman of Everton look on from the stands during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton FC at London Stadium on January 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Executive of Everton and Bill Kenwright, Chairman of Everton look on from the stands during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Everton FC at London Stadium on January 21, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images) /

As Everton prepare to face Crystal Palace in the latest vital match in their battle for Premier League survival, more conflict has erupted between the board of directors and supporters groups.

Last night Chairman Bill Kenwright released a statement in response to concerns expressed in a letter to him by supporters grouping under the banner of ‘All Together Now’.

The timing of this statement is quite incredible considering how much Everton and their fans need to be focused and united as they face just seven games to stay up, starting with Palace at Selhurst Park this afternoon.

It follows the notorious incident of what you might term ‘headlock gate’ when accusations were made by the club back in January that someone had apparently put CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale in a headlock outside Goodison Park.

This all blew up just before the Blues’ were taking on Southampton in a big game they needed to win against a fellow struggler.

The board members stayed away from the Grand Old Lady that afternoon as the Toffees’ slumped to a dreadful 2-1 defeat that contributed to Frank Lampard’s eventual sacking.

And, while the distraction caused by that statement couldn’t be directly blamed perhaps, it certainly didn’t help the atmosphere and sense of collective unity before such a big game.

Nothing came of these accusations either with no further action – despite it being potential assault – giving everyone I think a sense of unease about what was going on.

And, it represented a moment where the long-standing breach between the board and fans, which goes back over a year at least, was opened up even more.

Once again now, members of the board seem to think it is a sound strategy to make public statements and effectively pick a fight with fans at precisely the wrong moment with the team facing a huge test away from home.

It acts as a further unwanted distraction and annoyance (and there have been so many recently!) to supporters who have given their all to back this team and will no doubt do so again today.

In his reponse to their letter, Kenwright has refuted any suggestion that he should consider standing down because his age and health concerns are impeding his ability to contribute effectively.

The Chairman claims that anyway he isn’t in charge of things at Goodison Park and that the person actually running the club, Barrett-Baxendale, is doing a good job.

Well, let’s have a look at things and see if we can agree.

In truth, both on and off the pitch Everton are a club in seemingly terminal decline.

There are very serious financial problems, which have been brewing for years due to huge spending season-after season on players and managers and have led to the club skating very close to breaking the rules on profit and sustainability.

Just a few weeks ago, the Premier League then announced that it was now in fact referring the Blues’ to an independent commission to look into whether actual breaches have occured.

If Everton are found guilty, then they could face a range of punishments including fines, transfer bans, points deductions and even possible relegation (although that of course may happen anyway in a few weeks time).

All this comes after a year and a half of terrible results on the pitch as the Toffees’ had fallen down the league table under the toxtic tenure of Rafa Benitez and almost slipped through the trap door to the Championship last season.

Once more in this campaign, and despite changing manager yet again in January, Everton are facing the prospect of going down and this time it looks very possible, even likely.

This all follows a truly farcical January transfer window when, with the then manager Lampard under huge pressure, the club failed to bring in a single new signing, leaving Lampard’s replacement, Sean Dyche, with the most difficult hand imaginable.

All this doesn’t look like a well-run football club to me!

Yes it is tough to compete in the Premier League with so many clubs having huge wealth and so much at stake, but you’ve got to manage your resources well and ensure you have a coherent football and financial strategy in place. None of this has happened.

In addition, it is critically important to have good, regular communication with your fanbase and be able to create a sense of unity and togetherness, especially in challenging times, not the opposite as we’re seeing!

Managers have come and gone without there ever appearing to be a coherent strategy behind each appointment.

Meanwhile those managers have bought often very expensive signings, most of whom arrived only to flatter to deceive, either failing to perform and moving on, getting injured long-term, or simply sitting on the sidelines taking huge wages without contributing to the team.

Everton over the past six or so years are a textbook example of how not to run a club with a wealthy owner in charge.

Now, we are looking at the genuine possibility that the Toffees’ will go down in a few weeks time.

They would then have to sell playing assets at considerably reduced prices, might still face punishments including a transfer ban or points deduction, and because of reduced income, even maybe administration.

For progress in every department to be made, at the very least there needs to be a new owner, board and chief executive as well as much better players obviously.

Rumours of new investment and possible takeovers (something we thought might happen last summer) continue in the media.

I would be frankly happy for almost anyone else to take over the club given how bad things are. However, even if there is genuine interest from new investors, relegation may well deter them.

Who knows where the club would go from there as this sort of irritatingly distracting and apparently endless back and forth between the club hierachy and fans, cannot continue.