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Everton Fans Council 2004

Failed initiative for a new interface with the Club

  

 Beginnings: The need for better communications

  
How the Fans Council initiative started

One of the Everton Shareholders Association Executive Committee meetings in 2004 discussed the lack of influence and communication exercised by Evertonians in general with the custodians of our Everton FC.  The idea was floated to contact the various local and regional supporters clubs, fanzines, and prominent websites to see if there would be interest in forming a body which might help to represent them 'en masse' to the club.

Two committee members (James Asquith and Ian Martin) took on the task of making contact, and floating the idea.  They emailed as many contacts as they could dig up, then followed up with phone calls and a letter.  They spoke to Evertonians across the UK and around the world who devote some of their spare time to organising their local branches of Everton Supporters Clubs.

The general, feedback was positive.  In particular, many people expressed dissatisfaction with their current level of communication with the Everton FC, and welcomed any attempt to improve those communications.  The stories we heard ranged from a Supporters Club who had been trying for over a year to get Everton to change the contact e.mail address listed for them on the official website, to a group who had offered to sell Everton merchandise in Ireland.

  

 First Meeting: 28 August 2004

  
Heartened, by the initial response, James and Ian tried to take the idea further.

"We wanted to get everybody together in the same room to discuss their concerns, form the body, and move forward.  That's when we arranged for the first meeting, for 28 August 2004.  We didn't know how many people would turn up, but the room we booked certainly wouldn't hold every member of every Supporters Club we had contacted.  Consequently, we asked each club to send 1 or 2 members who could represent them," John Asquith told ToffeeWeb.com.

There was no broad advance 'publicity' to speak of as people were invited to attend personally.  Around 50 turned up at lunchtime before the West Brom game, in the Everton Supporters Club on City Road.

A Supporters Trust?

One idea floated in the meeting was that of a Supporters Trust.  There were people present who have long advocated a Supporters Trust for Everton and who had previously investigated the concept.  There were other people who'd never heard of Trusts before, and some who were firmly set against them.  No final decisions were made, but there was at least a level of interest in the idea.

  

 An Idea supported by Keith Wyness

  
In his first reported public utterances following his appointment as Everton's new CEO in September 2004, Keith Wyness made reference to the formation of an Everton Fans Council as a new all-inclusive vehicle for the fans to make a connection with the Club:

In his first public address on Thursday [9 September 2004, at the Everton EGM], Keith vowed to improve communication with the fans: "We have got some ideas," he says...

"There are so many disparate groups - fanzines, websites and so on.  In Aberdeen, we looked at a fans' council or parliament..  That's got to be the way forward.  We can't meet all our fans individually; there just isn't the time."  — Full Story: Game for a Laugh

  

 Second Meeting: 2 October 2004

  
The second meeting of the embryonic Everton Fans Council (again at the old Supporters Club on City Road), before the Spurs game on 2 October 2004, the committee had arranged for members of the Spurs Trust and representatives of Supporters Direct (including the chair, Andy Burnham MP — himself an Evertonian) to come along and give their perspective on Supporters Trusts.

They had also persuaded Everton's new Chief Executive, Keith Wyness, to come along and introduce himself and answer questions.  Disappointingly, the turnout this time was much lower — closer to 25 people.  Our good start to the season and corresponding high league position may have had an effect in limiting the attendance — no crisis, no motivation — as well as differences in the way the Committee publicised the meeting.

The meeting discussed the Trust idea further; again, some were in favour, some against.  A motion was proposed that the Committee investigate further and report back to the Council before Christmas.  The meeting voted, and the motion was passed.

  

 Misinformation

  
This ToffeeWeb focus page has been provided in part to counter the inflammatory and largely incorrect statements made by Everton fan Colin Wilkes on the EvertonBlog website regarding the Everton Fans Council and the Supporters Trust.  That article refers to, but provides no link to a previous effort that Colin Wilkes wanted everyone to publicize for him.  Wilkes presents some outspoken views that seem to be unnecessarily critical of the Fans Council idea, without offering much in its place. 

This unfortunate trend of nay-saying among vocal Evertonians seems destined yet again to torpedo the latest effort for coordinated, meaningful and effective communication between the fanbase and the Club.  As fans, it seems we only have ourselves to blame for the lack of progress.

  

 Third Meeting: Saturday 4 December 2004

  
The third meeting of the Fans Council on 4 December 2004 (prior to the Bolton game) sought the widest participation of interested Evertonians committed to working together under the umbrella of the Fans Council to set up the Supporters Trust with the assistance and guidance of Supporters Direct

The Fans Council issued this Update to members [a two-page 33kB .pdf file] detailing the objective of the third meeting on 4 December 2004, where attendance by any interested Evertonians was widely encouraged — especially for those who might have the time and the inclination to serve on the Council's committee or take another active role in setting up the Fans Council as a Supporters Trust.  The second page of the Update is a Proposal to reconstitute the Fans council as a Supporters Trust.

There was also an opportunity to discuss issues raised prior to the Annual General Meeting of Everton Football Club Company Limited, held on 7 December, 2004.  However, the meeting was very poorly attended, with only eight people turning up.

  

 Fourth Meeting: Saturday 22 January 2005

  
The fourth meeting of the embryonic Fans Council was planned to take place on Saturday 22 January 2005, prior to the home game against Charlton.  A notice canvassing for interest and participation was publicized but the response was virtually non-existent and this attempt to create an Everton Supporters Trust fizzled out.
  
Prepared by Michael Kenrick exclusively for ToffeeWeb
© ToffeeWeb 2005

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