Earlier this week, the club announced that its Annual General Meeting would be held on the 23rd November. Once again, it is to be staged at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
An open email to CEO Robert Elstone
For those unfamiliar with the Philharmonic Hall, it is a fine theatre which hosts concerts and shows. It has hosted Everton AGMs previous.
I attended the EGM some years ago, forced to be held by Shareholders. The Hall has a large stage at the front, overlooking many seats and there is a balcony at the rear, usually not opened for the AGM.
This setting suits our Chairman. Bill Kenwright, the actor, theatre impresario, story teller, the biggest Evertonian there is. It also suits our CEO. Robert Elstone, the ego with a tan who does everything which is “a good deal for the club.”
With this in mind, and after many of you asking various questions, I decided I would approach Robert Elstone and give him the opportunity to address the concerns of supporters.
I penned a list of questions compiled not only by me, but by every day supporters, eager to know what the plan is and what the future holds for our great football club.
Here is the email in full:
As you are no doubt aware, I have created an account on Twitter with the sole aim of informing Evertonians and the wider football world about the way in which my football club is being mismanaged not only by you but by the people around and above you within the chain of command at Goodison Park, or Finch Farm where you now have an office.
I have absolutely no problem at all in telling you that all of the information I obtained was available from documents filed at Companies House by the club itself, carrying the signatures of its various secretaries and other representatives, including current Secretary, Mr Ingles.
I also looked at club accounts, media reports and the now infamous public inquiry ordered by the Government following the Destination Kirkby fiasco.
Finally, I had some very valid inside knowledge – although you will appreciate that I will not disclose any further about this knowledge. However, I am sure you have looked personally at my time line and, being a smart man, you won’t find it difficult to put the pieces together.
Robert, I wanted to give you the opportunity to answer some pressing questions. These questions have not only come from me, but also from other Evertonians who have contacted me and from various supporters’ groups.
I have to stress, I am an individual. I do not belong to any supporters’ group. I am simply a very concerned Evertonian who attends games home and away, and would like to see my club challenging at the top, winning trophies and being the best club in the land.
1. Bill Kenwright told Evertonians more than four years ago that he had no plan or money to take the club forward, and that his only desire was to sell the club, and that there was no better salesman for the job than him. How many parties have there been interested in buying Everton Football Club. And, how many bids have there been to take over the club?
2. Why were each of these interested parties not successful with their approaches to invest and/or take over Everton Football Club?
3. The group who bought Manchester City were interested in Everton. The Chairman confirmed this. I believe, and have seen proof, that a Qatari Investment Group were interested in purchasing the club, but later turned their attentions to Paris Saint-Germain. Manchester City have since won 2 Premier League titles and a couple of domestic cups. Why were they turned away from Everton?
4. The club has 10 outstanding mortgages – more than any current Premier League club. With the ever increasing TV revenue, why are the club continuing to borrow money 2 seasons ahead of itself?
The club borrowed money from the Vibrac corporation. What was this used on and why has it not been paid back yet?
5. Vibrac are based in the exact same location as BCR Sports Limited, a majority shareholder in Everton Football Club. BCR Sports is Robert Earl’s entity. Robert Earl made numerous claims towards his involvement with Everton when he acquired his shares in the club. To date, the only involvement we have seen has been his sole appearance at Goodison Park, where he introduced Sylvester Stallone to the Gwladys Street. So, what exactly does Robert Earl do, and how does this benefit the club?
6. At the EGM held at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, you personally described the partnership with Kitbag UK as “a good deal for the club.” Supporters have regularly expressed frustration at supply not meeting demand for replica kit, not being able to buy kit anywhere but the club shops and the website, and that we are being left behind clubs in lower divisions with this kit supply deal.
6.1. You recently renewed this deal – why didn’t you listen to supporters, end this deal and explore the possibility of dealing directly with Umbro?
6.2. Is the reason that kits are now available in JD Sports not further proof that the deal you agreed and renewed is an extremely poor one?
6.3. It is widely reported that Everton receive £6m from Umbro to be the main kit partner. Is this additional to the Kitbag £3m, or is the £6m absorbed by Kitbag in line with the agreement?
6.4. When club kit was supplied by Le Coq Sportif and later Nike, was any money received by Everton or was that also absorbed by Kitbag in line with the agreement?
6.5. If we did receive money, where is this shown in the club accounts?
7. You also recently renewed the main club sponsorship with Chang. Again, this leaves us significantly lesser off than our rivals. Were there other sponsors explored?
7.1. Why did you decide to renew the Chang partnership?
8. Given the increase in TV revenue from which each Premier League club benefits, why can other clubs borrow from mainstream lenders, such as Barclays Bank, yet Everton resort to funding from offshore vehicles?
9. The latest loan was taken out just before the summer transfer window closed. The vehicle through which the loan was taken, JG Funding Limited, has a net worth of just under £8,000. It was signed by Jonathon McMorrow, an ex Riverdancer who now runs Irish dance schools in Ireland with his wife, and was witnessed by Fiona McPadden, McMorrow’s sister and employee of a BMW dealership based in Sligo. Who is the real lender and where has this money gone?
10. JG Funding Limited has also loaned money to West Ham United. A West Ham supporters’ group received assurances that JG Funding was nothing to do with the James Grant Group, yet only weeks before supplying funding to Everton, JG Funding changed their registered address from that of the James Grant Group to c/o Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP. So, who exactly are JG Funding Limited?
11. Roberto Martinez stressed his desire to bring in a number 10 during the summer. Given that transfer dealings are handled by you and your colleagues, why did you fail to supply the manager with everything he needed?
12. The club quite rightly rebuffed advances from Stamford Bridge for John Stones. If Chelsea come calling again, can you guarantee that the clubs’ stance will not change?
12.1. Is this also the case with Ross Barkley?
13. Power 8 – a pyramid scheme headed up in the middle east, with offices in Barcelona which have since become vacant and whose funder, Bryan Leonard Cook, is serving a custodial sentence in Germany after his extradition from Switzerland on charges of serious market manipulation and fraud. The club entered into a partnership with Power 8. What services did Power 8 provide to the club?
13.1. What money was paid by Power 8?
13.2. Did the club to the honourable thing and contact the Authorities, or did the Authorities come knocking?
13.3. Has any money been reclaimed by the authorities?
13.4. Why, only months ago, did you renew this deal? Who brokered the renewal?
13.5. Given the nature of the sponsor, did you consider your own position as CEO?
14. Philip Green – what really is his involvement at Everton Football Club?
14.1. Mr Green has stated on the record that he helped Bill Kenwright to purchase Peter Johnson’s stake in Everton Football Club. How did he do this?
14.2. What were the guarantees he received in return for his help?
15. Were the club serious about the Kings Dock project – the biggest missed opportunity in the history of the club?
15.1. If so, why could the club not raise the £30m needed to fund the project? Was this because the club could no longer borrow money?
16. What is the hold up with Walton Hall Park?
16.1. Where are the club getting the funding from to contribute – if they are at all?
16.2. Why did you tell one supporter you were waiting for Liverpool City Council to provide the funding for the project?
17. Which current director has invested any of their own money into the club, and how much have they invested?
18. Given the club has a net worth of around £-49m, if the club is seriously up for sale then what is the asking price?
19. What happened to your CEO blog, given the ever increasing need for transparency and communication with supporters?
20. In a radio interview with BBC Radio Merseyside in 2009, you stated that Goodison Park was “one of the worst grounds in the country.” Ian Ross later said in an email that you meant to say what you said in your blog – Goodison was only worsened by Fratton Park in a survey of Premier League stadia. You then denied that Bill Kenwright had said that Goodison Park would struggle to gain its safety certificate and, when proven wrong, you claimed this was said because the club were desperate for the move to Kirkby to happen. Given that there was an apparent democratic ballot on the move to Kirkby, has it always been your prerogative to deliberately mislead Evertonians to suit your own agenda?
21. What exactly do the Liverpool Echo “owe” you, and why?
Rest assured that whether you respond to some, all or none of this email, I will be publishing it. I look forward to receiving your response. Or not, as the case may be.
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It will come of no great surprise that to date, Robert has not responded. I know he has received and read the email. I attached delivery reports and read receipts to it! A simple, ‘I’m not willing to discuss this with you,’ an acknowledgment, anything…… No, nothing.
Why won’t Robert Elstone answer the questions of everyday, match going Evertonians? What is there to hide? If nothing, why not answer?
Like I said earlier, I attended the last EGM. I witnessed Robert Elstone proudly proclaim that Everton were back with the big boys, as he played highlights of the 0-0 away at the Emirates.
I listened with a wry smile on my face, as he openly declared the Kitbag deal as a great one.
I then also watched on in amazement as he was challenged by a young man in the audience. The jist was this; ‘Are you an accountant or from an accounting background, Robert?’ “I am, yes.”
‘I am too, and I’d like to take issue with your figures….’ A red faced Elstone requested the meeting be closed and ordered no more questions be taken from the floor.
In 2009, Robert Elstone told shareholders:
“The agenda today is all about communication. As has always been the case at Everton, we stand up on every issue. Nothing is off limits tonight. No sense of a closed door or a closed mind. That’s the way Everton are. Everton are proud of the way it communicates.”
I’m afraid that Robert Elstone’s continued ignorance, or arrogance, but general lack of transparency and communication with Evertonians, means that he has no pride.