Everton : What Has Happened to My Club?

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What has happened to my club? Now before anyone thinks that this article is based solely on my less than enthusiastic attitude towards the new badge, it is not. I had actually planned to write this piece a couple of weeks ago but had not got round to it, however, I will include my views on the new badge here also.

The reason for me writing this is my total disbelief in how poorly we are marketed and how poorly we portray ourselves in the media.

Let me firstly, say that I think we have been run excellently on the playing side / administrative side for a good number of years. Yes there could have been improvements but on the whole, given the amount of money we have available we have done pretty well. Although, I will say that nothing beats a trophy!

David Moyes’ reign at Everton was a fairly good one and although he failed to deliver a trophy or regular Champions League football to us, he still transformed us from a side that was in the wrong half of the table into a side that was always at the right end. I saw a banner at the West Ham United game in the Gwladys Street End that for me summed his reign up at Everton, it said :

‘From Death’s Doors to European Tours, Thank You David Moyes’ 

Whoever wrote that banner pat yourself on the back, it was a brilliant banner.

Moyes’ time has now come to an end (I will write something fitting for him at some stage) and we are now faced with a decision of trying to make the right choice. One thing that has struck me has been that there is not one stand-out choice for me. Already there has been about 9 favourites for the job and that in itself tells its own story.

It looks as though Roberto Martinez and Vitor Pereira are the front runners although I wouldn’t rule out David Weir or Alan Stubbs. Martinez terrifies me defensively, Pereira looks like the stand-out but is unproven, Weir and Stubbs have no experience so it really is a difficult one. We have been told that the manager may be announced early this week but we will wait and see on that one. When it is done, me or Bally will pen a piece I am sure.

However, this is not really about the playing side of the club it is about the other side, the commercial aspect of Everton Football Club.

I don’t need to tell the majority of Evertonians that we are 4th on England’s list of League title winners and have more combined titles than Manchester City and Chelsea put together, but it seems that our own commercial team either do not know this or don’t really care.

Everton’s history is littered with success and firsts in English football. We have a proud and illustrious history and one that for me is too often ignored or played down. We market our club in a very insular way and always seem to sell ourselves short from a commercial point of view.

When I began watching Everton we were one of the ‘Big boys’ , England had the ‘big 5′ clubs as they were called, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Liverpool, and Tottenham. When the break-away league was being talked about they were the teams that were consulted and it was seen as imperative that these were included in any discussions. Manchester United were there or thereabouts but the others came first and WE were one of them.

Somewhere along the way that importance has been lost. Yes Sky Sports transformed football and unfortunately, Everton weren’t strong enough to break into the top 4 in the early days of Sky and therefore we missed out on big revenue that helped the Sky 4 evolve into just that. Since then we have fallen off the radar, and not just with Sky but within how our own club sees itself.

We are NOT plucky little Everton, and at times David Moyes annoyed me because he played up to that image. I felt insulted at times the way we portrayed ourselves, its bad enough when others do it but when we do it ourselves I can’t abide it. We are a big club with passionate fans so how can we have got it so wrong of late?

The latest debacle is the badge, which I will come onto in a minute but firstly, I am talking about our kit sponsors, kit makers, general PR with the fans and more importantly why haven’t we been talking ourselves up in the media. Take the likes of Newcastle United who do not have even a quarter of our history but they present themselves as a big club and make bold statements from a commercial point of view. We just seem to go the other way.

We have so many things in our history to be proud of, so many great players have played for the club yet we have almost fallen into the trap of downsizing ourselves. We peddle this ‘little Everton’ thing and I have to say it winds me right up. Why can’t we market ourselves better, why can’t we celebrate our great history, why can’t we treat ourselves as big news then maybe the rest will follow. If you don’t believe it yourself how do you expect others to do the same?

How come our sponsorship deals are so small? There are teams like Stoke City, Sunderland, Fulham all on better kit deals than us. We are a big club that plays in one of the Biggest leagues in the world, why aren’t we selling ourselves better? Because we are used to just surviving and thinking too small.

Take the Kitbag deal for example, I think we were paid £30 million over 10 years which on paper sounded good at the time. Arsenal have just been paid £175 million over 10 years for their latest deal. Now I am not saying that we would get the same as Arsenal, of course I am not they have Champions League, based in London and have a large fanbase worldwide, but next to some other clubs its poor.

Even putting the money we have been paid by Kitbag, why can’t you get a shirt in EVERY retail outlet? I spoke to Everton Legend Neville Southall on this point, he wanted to know why he can’t get a shirt in North Wales? I travel to Florida quite often and every year I go to the Nike store and there is a Soccer wall which has football shirts that Nike make. There is every Premier League shirt there to buy, I went there in August hoping to see Everton’s shirt displayed proudly there, guess what? No shirt. I asked somebody working there and they said that they had not been given any to sell despite having the Nike Premier League list in front of him with Everton’s name on it!

I believe that we should be casting our net far and wide and not be so insular. On the Footy Show last week John Milburn explained that he had been to a talk last year when Liverpool’s CEO Ian Ayres spoke about targetting global markets, then Robert Elstone spoke about trying to attract more fans from Wales? There is a tiny insight into how to comparable teams view themselves and how they market themselves, it seems to back up my theory that we just don’t think big enough. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we haven’t been targeted for investment, who knows?!

We have been over to the United States so many times but have not cashed in on our popularity there. We have the United States goalkeeper in Tim Howard, we have had Landon Donovan play for us when he was the poster boy of the MLS and neither time have we marketed the situation correctly. When Donovan first came over to Everton there were 883 news-feeds reporting on his progress in the Premier League such was the interest. We played in the United States on tour and haven’t played Tim Howard in the past in every game. This of course is just an example of some of the opportunities we have had to cash in on marketing opportunities.

We have also had Australia’s most marketable player in Tim Cahill but possibly should have done more to market him and Everton in Australia. We should have had merchandise to go in Australia even if was basic Cahill T-shirts with Australia / Everton crests on. I saw some that people had had made themselves and they looked really good, why couldn’t the club have come up with some of this stuff. I know others do.

Just little things like that are important to our club because we need to stretch our brand name and attract supporters from all over the globe. Making it difficult for them to get our merchandise only ensures we miss out on revenue opportunities in my opinion.

I want my club to be marketed by ourselves as if we are the biggest club in the world. I watched the Champions League Final last night and watched the Borussia Dortmund section and how they had built themselves back up from the ground. They have re-done their stadium, involved the supporters and created an iconic brand. Everywhere in that stadium you could see the brand and its fabulous how involved they are with the supporters. My dream is that Everton could somehow do the same. Which leads me onto the new badge !

To say I am disappointed by the badge would be a massive understatement. I have seen so many badges made by people on the internet that are so much better than the one the club has put together. The colour I don’t like, the fat bottom of the badge makes it look ridiculous. I understand the need for modernising the badge and trying to create an easier identifiable brand but how they have got this so wrong is worrying. I don’t really like the Everton in writing underneath the tower but I understand they want it there as it tells you immediately who it is, however you can’t buy merchandise anyway without going through kitbag. The concept works if you are planning to shift as much of it as you can, but Everton’s current deal does not allow impulse buying from floating supporters.

I know the badge has had a lot of criticism from supporters. The change in the tower, the removal of Nil Satis Nisi Optimum, the removal of the Wreaths seems as though we are trying to totally remove our identity. The whole thing seems to have been done without any empathy towards our traditions and beliefs. When you change something so iconic as a badge, there has to be some attempt to make subtle changes or you risk the outpouring of anger like has been witnessed over this badge.

In my opinion, the fans have not been taken into consideration with this badge. It is so poorly done it looks like someone knocked it up in their lunchtime without any thought to the old badge. I understand that you cannot canvass every supporter, but they could in this day and age had maybe 3 designs and allowed the fans to vote on them then they would have been able to say that they involved the fans in the changing of the design.

The thing is there is no way in my opinion that the club will change anything badge wise now as they will have it on merchandise already and won’t waste that money.

There are other examples where the club has seemed to drive a wedge between themselves and the fans. The communication is poor, the banning of AGMs etc appears to give the impression that the club simply doesn’t value the fans opinions and that builds resentment. Fans are the lifeblood of any club and unless the people that matter begin to listen to supporters then the distance between the two will continue to grow. When you have a club and fans that are united, then you have a unique bond that can help the club become successful and those supporters will back the club through thick and thin and not just vocally, but monetary as well. I believe that Everton need to re-build their somewhat broken relationship with their supporters and begin to communicate properly and then we can move forward.

At the moment I get the impression that lots of supporters feel totally undervalued by our club. To me it seems like the team is totally separate from the club itself if that makes sense. I mean I get the impression that the fans will back the players to the hilt but won’t have the same relationship with the club itself and that in my opinion is a worrying situation.

For Everton this summer is a pivotable one. David Moyes has left and we need to trust that this board will make the correct decision in finding his replacement. We also have to hope that only 1 or 2 players leave the club this summer and are adequately replaced as we prepare for next season. We all need to stick together and for me that will only happen once the club starts listening to the supporters and acting like a big club again !

For me Everton should ALWAYS mean NIL SATIS NISI OPTIMUM…. Never Forget our Traditions.

Your thoughts ??

THT

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