The Invisible Team

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We have just returned to Australia from a month back in the UK for Christmas. What amazed me was the total lack of Everton merchandise anywhere, with the exception of the the Everton shop.

Do we have an arrangement which means it is impossible to get kit, DVDs, even a hat anywhere but in the city or Goodison outlets?

Whilst visiting friends and family, we stayed in London, Stafford, Swansea and Stratford. We also spent a week in Ireland and I was convinced I would find something there, given the large Everton following but again, nothing. I saw virtually every Premier League side represented, plus the obligatory Barcelona etc but not even an Everton pencil case in the rest of the British Isles!!!

Incidentally, the shop was so packed when we visited on Boxing Day that we bailed without spending a penny in there. Surely whatever marketing opportunity that exists is going down the drain?

Finally, to the lads in the row behind us in the Park Stand for the Wigan game, who made us feel so welcome (particularly my wife and daughter in law!) thanks boys. Rubbish game but a great reminder of our belonging to the Everton family from 12,000 miles away.
Andy  McNabb, Australia     Posted 13/01/2013 at 10:15:34

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Barry Rathbone
489 Posted 13/01/2013 at 18:12:22
Andy someone will come up with a bizarre defence of our commercial activities.

I remember a recent nutter who worked in the oil industry at somewhere like outer mongolia , (from a cave away from normal people I suspect) insisting there was no demand.

Shocking really mate but your story isn't an isolated one - it's as though the club goes out of it's way to prove how dim it is.

You'd think we were rolling in roubles.

John Otway
496 Posted 13/01/2013 at 18:40:56
For God's sake will someone get Terry Leahy in to overhaul the club's commercial operation. He's forgotten more about marketing than Elstone and Co will ever know.
GJ Butler
512 Posted 13/01/2013 at 19:11:25
This subject pops up now and then, and the reality is we are an embarrassment.

The club just do not realise how bad the kitbag deal was/is. They fail to see the importance of proactively working towards gaining a percentage of new supporters (mainly kids), specifically in markets that have no geographical relevance to Premier League clubs. Here in Ireland due to player connections dating back to the 50's, Everton once had a large support on par if not ahead of Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs and Leeds, and behind only Liverpool and United. Now however, kids cannot buy as much as an Everton school bag or lunch box here. You don't see any kids walking the shopping centres in Everton tops. So when a 6 year old from Dublin watches the Premier League, likes Everton, and convinces his mother to bring him the local sports store to buy a new jersey for his birthday, he'll return with a Spurs top probably.

The local Evertonians wouldn't understand this, or possibly even care. You can put your head in the sand and spout all the 'we wouldn't want him as a fan anyway, we're born not manufactured' bollox that you like, but football is a global game, and we my friends, are going backwards at an alarming rate.

I won't even begin on the lack of capitalising on having Australia's biggest football star on our books for the best part of a decade, or two of U.S.As national heroes. It really is depressing.

Rob Wilkinson
523 Posted 13/01/2013 at 20:00:12
I work in advertising so would like to believe I have an educated opinion! Whilst I agree that the lack of merchandise that is available (an unforgivable act/ contract), the marketing team should also be commended as I believe that they are doing a good job; it's the people above who are letting them down.

As we all know, the Kitbag deal is shocking, as if you'd allow for your commercial presence on- and off-line to be monopolized by a single website! This is clearly a deal setup by Elstone and Co.

As for the marketing team, I actually believe that the content they provide via social media and the club's brand which they are trying to spread using #TurnTheCItyBlue (or whatever it was) not to mention the new app and first class website (I prefer Toffeeweb for info/ transfer news etc) but compared to other club's sites it really is good.

So to the un-named marketing team I say thank you.

Phil Bellis
526 Posted 13/01/2013 at 20:12:28
Oi, you! Rathbone!

The disappeared Mason didn't just "work in the oil industry"
He was an "engineer", you know
Spot on he was a nutter, though

Alex Kociuba
535 Posted 13/01/2013 at 20:50:48
Rob, I read your post twice - still no idea whether you're taking the piss or not - but I found it funny regardless.
Barry Rathbone
544 Posted 13/01/2013 at 21:48:35
Phil, I was trying to be discreet!!

He put so much stuff on here about himself alongside his wind ups I checked him out - the name of his gaff is:

"the red cottage".

Could mean nothing of course (cough, cough)

Ian Smitham
548 Posted 13/01/2013 at 22:30:21
Interesting topic.

While I agree it is nice to go into a JJB store and see lots of kits and stuff relating to Everton, we are all on here commenting and using the Internet, and for sure some at least will be Googling to buy their stuff, so maybe they have got it right, the younger buyer may well be comfortable using t'internet and that rather than the failed JJB model is the way forward. Just saying; thanks, Ian

Brendan McLaughlin
553 Posted 13/01/2013 at 22:35:42
Barry #544
You "checked him out"....that's pretty lame
Barry Rathbone
558 Posted 13/01/2013 at 22:56:37
Brendan, I'm obviously missing something because I've no idea what you're on about.

Lame as in phraseology? the deed? or sore ankle?

I must admit my left calf is aching, up to 4 miles a day now on the old interval jogging and the heavy bag is taking a beating (she's good with the kids though).

C'mon man explain!

Rory Slingo
562 Posted 13/01/2013 at 22:43:47
Ian, even in this day and age, brick and mortar is still king. And I don't see that changing for another five to ten years yet. Not everyone spends all their time on a computer let alone the Internet. Of those that do, a much smaller subset are comfortable doing their shopping online, what with CC info possibly being stolen, goods not arriving or getting damaged on the way, etc. And an even smaller subset of that subset will be Everton fans that order from Everton Direct.

Nothing beats a good ol' fashioned presence on the high street or in shopping malls. People see Amazon and think simply having a website will increase business ten- or a hundred-fold. It doesn't work like that. Amongst the millions of online retailers, Everton Direct is a nothing-burger. And if you don't get your product in front of customers' eyeballs, you're toast. People can't buy what they can't see.

Right now, anyone who isn't in Liverpool or an Everton fan that shops online, is probably unaware that Everton merchandise even exists, let alone where to go to find it. The Kitbag deal greatly underestimates the power of impulse buying and possible gift purchases by non-fans.

Just recently, an RS mate of mine asked where he could buy an Everton top as a birthday present for his Everton-supporting friend. This was 2 days before the date and he had been to all the sports shops in Singapore but failed to find any. It was embarrassing having to explain to him our Kitbag deal and that he could only order one online, which wouldn't have arrived in time. In the end he managed to find one from a shop that was selling it at 100% markup because shops can't order it at wholesale prices either, they have to order it at full retail from the club. He ended up paying about 100 for the top.

Patrick Murphy
565 Posted 13/01/2013 at 23:54:53
Rory as you know Unlce Bill is a musical hall impresario and he just loves to walk around Goodison singing in full voice:-

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile,
While you've a Lucifer to light your fag,
Smile, boys, that's the style.
What's the use of worrying?
It never was worth while, so
Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,
And smile, smile, smile.

Patrick Murphy
567 Posted 14/01/2013 at 00:06:30
In the 1932 comedy movie High Pressure, William Powell ends his "dynamic personality classes" by leading the salesmen in singing this song to pump up the product and stock (even though there is yet no product). That sounds a tad familiar, don't you think?
Eric Myles
573 Posted 14/01/2013 at 00:47:10
Ian #548, the problem with the internet shop is that for fans like Andy in Australia and myself in Thailand, and even those fans in Ireland it costs more in postage to recieve a shirt than the cost of the shirt itself.

So fo me it's a none starter, especially when 5 quid knock offs are available in the local market.

Jonathan Tasker
609 Posted 14/01/2013 at 08:59:37
The club is run by an idiot so I don't expect anything different.
Declan O'Shaughnessy
628 Posted 14/01/2013 at 10:04:08
In fairness, I'm surprised that this topic keeps coming up at all. Even a casual observer of this site for the last 3 or 4 years must be aware, by now, that Everton do not have a bricks and mortar merchandising presence on the high street except for their own retail outlets. So how anyone can be surprised by this is beyond me.

But, on a wider note, let me make a few observations:

(i) I don't remember a time when Everton have had a major presence on the high street outside of Liverpool, and I'm 35. I lived in London for a number of years and could rarely find any Everton merchandise in the sports stores. I used to visit London as a kid in the 80s (when we used to win things) and it was nigh on impossible to get Everton stuff. I grew up in Ireland, and live there again now, and there has never been much Everton stuff in the sports stores at all. And I'm not being disingenous about this: before the internet, I typically had to badger my family into getting a local store to order in an Everton shirt for me. At one point, I discovered the Littlewoods in the UK stocked the Everton kits through their catalogues, and badgered family over there to get me stuff. So the current situation is much as it has been, in my experience, for most of my life

(ii) I'm not sure there is any demand for Everton merchandise outside of match-day in Liverpool. It's not like an Arsenal or Chelsea or Spurs etc. situation, where tourists couple a trip to London with a visit to the game (or a chance to pick up some shirts for family back home (wherever that is)). Like it or not, most of the people who go to Everton games are the same people who go week in week out. They've bought the shirts at the start of the season, and when they want a cup or a mouse mat or some other tack, they pop into the club store. There are very few visitors to Goodison who are coming as a once in a lifetime experience, or even once a year experience. In contrast, there are thousands of people in London, every week, looking to buy merchandise for a London club (or Man Utd etc.) before their flight back to wherever departs. I know that there are the occasional visitors to Goodison, like the original poster, who are "tourists" as such, but you can't base a retail strategy around unicorns. And yes, I know that Liverpool as a city does get tourists, but let's not forget that, if Everton fans are to believed, all the Scandanavians are off to see Liverpool play, not Everton.

(iii) The idea that there a massive overseas fanbase of Everton fans currently lying untapped is, frankly, bollocks. There are small pockets of Everton fans all over the place, sure, but they are geographically disparate. It doesn't matter where you site a merchandise store, you won't reach more than a handful at a time. And trying to wholesale your stuff to existing outlets will be difficult because there isn't the fanbase there to begin with. You cannot begin to expect a retailer in Singapore to stock a range of Everton shirts (home, away, change) in a range of sizes (and let's not forget kids and womens sizes) on the off-chance that a Liverpool-supporting muppet has forgotten to buy his Everton-supporting mate a shirt as a birthday present until the last minute.

(iv) The idea that our retail strategy is holding back, or hindering, exposure of the club overseas, and therefore preventing us from picking up new fans is, frankly, even more bollocks than point iii. Fans overseas support clubs that are successful, that they see on television most often, that excite them. They do not, I repeat not, support the club with the most unsold shirts in the local flea market. If Everton won trophies, played exciting football, and got repeated Sky exposure and "big match" billing, they would magically get more fans overseas. Then you might be able to sell a few shirts to them, or you might not (most of the shirts worn will be knock-offs anyways). The reason there are so few Everton fans left in Ireland is not because our retail strategy is pants, it's because our on field activities for more than 20 years now have been utter shite. The most fanatical football fans are teenagers. You pick up the bug as a kid. As you get older, it means less to you (depending on personal circumstances, it might mean a lot less to you or just marginally less to you). So, when a club stops being successful, it stops picking up new fans. As the existing fans get older, some drift away, some stick with the club. But without new fans sniffing success and coming on board, your fan base will rapidly dwindle. When I tell people in Ireland that I'm an Everton fan, they look at me like I have 2 heads. Everyone here supports Liverpool (fan bas dwindling), Utd, Citteh, Chelski or Arsenal. We pretend that it's because of strong Irish connections to past players or managers, but in reality it's because of success.

(v) It's odd that, given our terrible our retail strategy is, that the club's marketing people and the people at Kitbag are actually seemingly happy with it. You can condemn Everton all you like as being clueless, but Kitbag are a commerical entity solely devoted to making money. If there was an untapped revenue stream from Everton fans out there, do you really think they wouldn't be trying to access it? Really? If you do, write down your new revenue stream into a cogent working paper, whack your CV in with it and send it off to Kitbag. I'd imagine that, at worst you'll open up Everton merchandise to a whole new swathe of people, and that at best you'll be Kitbag's new commercial director. Dont forget the little people when you're in the new job.

(vi) I think Eric Myles hits upon a very important point at #573. The club, and Kitbag, should take steps to bring down the cost of shipping the merchandise overseas. Although, having said that, Ive just checked now and the cost of shipping a shirt to Ireland is 6.95. So, on the saucy side, but not totally extortionate. But I do take the point that, if there is profit gouging going on in the area of shipping (and I suspect there is), then it should be stopped. Shipping costs should accurately reflect the real costs of shipping the item, no more. (Although, having checked again, the cost of sending a shirt to Australia, for example, is also 6.95 which seems quite reasonable - are there definitely uber-expensive destinations?)

I know this post won't please many people, and I'm sure there'll be plenty of flak thrown at me, but honestly, I think you're barking up the wrong tree with this. Sure, Everton could do things differently, they could even do things better. But not that much better, and it wouldn't make any real difference at the end of the day. The existing stratgey isn't a disaster, it's just a pragmatic approach for a club with fuck-all money.

GJ Butler
654 Posted 14/01/2013 at 12:48:16
Declan, you are away with fairies.

I'm 33 and from Dublin, so we would be in the same demographic bracket. In response to your observations:

(i) I don't know where you shopped, but from the early 90's until the Kitbag deal I could purchase my Everton kits at any sports retailers here in Dublin. I think I tended to buy them in 'Champion Sports' more often than not.

(ii) I agree, outside matchday I don't think there is much of a demand for Everton merchandise in Liverpool. And with the city centre being nice and small, perhaps Everton 2 is sufficient. However, the original poster is talking about his experiences in London, Swansea and Ireland to name but three. I don't think he wants an Everton store in these places, but a jersey in the sports shop and perhaps a DVD in a high-street store wouldn't be too much to ask.

(iii) I also agree, I don't think there is a huge untapped fanbase, but there is an untapped fanbase nonetheless. As you know, here in Ireland the Premeir League is arguably the most watched sport in the country (outside GAA season), and everyone seems to support a team. Their decision on who to support depends on a number of variants: (a) current success; (b) who their family/father supports; and finally (c) who they like to see play. When a member of the untapped fanbase falls into category (c), that is where we loose them.

(iv) Kitbag are an on-line retailer. Presenting them with a feasible plan on how to increase revenue by putting some of their stock into shops won't work in the same way eBay won't open a shop on the high-street. It is not their business model.

(vi) The cost of shipping is high in my opinion, but is another topic in itself. We shouldn't have to be buying our football kits online anyway!

Phil Bellis
662 Posted 14/01/2013 at 13:33:37
And what with the seemingly annual vagaries of sizing these days, buying shirts/tops/polos whatever on-line in the expectation they will fit is a gamble. Play.com buck the trend and offer free returns but other sites make you pay the return postage.

There are Evertonians and Everton supporters clubs all over the place, Declan, not all able to get to Liverpool. I feel the Kitbag deal was yet another example of the Board simply taking the readies to pay the police and electricity bills - or, maybe Bill had to do it so the bank wouldn't "kill us".

David McKitt
664 Posted 14/01/2013 at 14:11:57
I have to agree with GJ and Phil on this. I'm also 33 and from Dublin. I used to buy the home jersey most seasons but haven't now in a long time due to lack of availability. Buying online puts me off mainly due to, as Phil put it, the gamble if it will fit you. I want to try it on and not have the hassle of sending it back, I don't think that's too much to ask.

It's not like most other online clothes retailers, that once you get to know your size you can keep buying it. Manufactures of our jersey change, a medium in a Puma isn't the same as a medium in Le Coc Sportif or Nike. I just wonder how many other Evertonians there are like me around, and how much the club are losing out on.

Liam Reilly
667 Posted 14/01/2013 at 14:40:41
I live in Dublin and recenttly posted a thread on this very topic.

http://www.toffeeweb.com/site/classifieds/22421.html

All of the top sides in the Premier League plus the Spanish 2 and Celtic are hugely represented in stores in Dublin, but you can't get any Everton merchandise anywhere (except the odd calendar).

Even the Ferrys across to the games are laden with United and Liverpool merchandise, but nothing from Everton.

I've two young lads and would love it if they grew up to be Evertonian, however I suspect they will venture elsewhere and who can blame them. It's beyond shocking.

Steve Carse
691 Posted 14/01/2013 at 16:20:33
Never mind a visitor not knowing where to buy Everton stuff when in Liverpool, even by the end of his stay the visitor wouldn't even know Everton existed!

Everton talk a good game about global branding (even though that aim is counter to the KB arrangement!) but they need to try and win the hearts and minds of young scousers first! And to do that they've got to raise the Club's profile. It's saddening to walk round the city and be hit continually with LFC posters of various descriptions and by LFC merchandise in numerous shops. And then walk past the Liverpool Echo buildings and what do you see? The railings of the building decorated with billboards of pictures of Gerrard!!!

As regards the lack of merchandise other than at Everton 1 and 2, I can't see how anyone can argue other than that it costs us sales. Alot of merchandising is random -- eg you're on holiday, you're pissed off seeing lots of RS and Manc tops being worn, you see an EFC top or similar in a store, and you go and buy it. As for purchasing clothing online, how impractical is that when there is nothing standard about how sizes are represented.

Turning the city Blue was an innovative start at reclaiming our city. But alot more is needed, starting with the end of the Kitbag deal, even if in the short term, since it would mean the end of a guaranteed minimum revenue stream, we might lose a bit of money. We need to stop taking the easy management option of outsourcing and get a professional team in to turn things round.

Tony Waring
698 Posted 14/01/2013 at 16:47:40
If the club just kept the same kit for a 5 year period ( or for ever !) that would solve all the problems except of course for cash flow. Why the hell do they need three outfits anyway ? I've always felt that this policy - and all clubs are guilty - is simply a device to rob hard working parents who want to please their kids. Frankly this year's fashion extravaganza is pretty awful; the white piece on the sleeves and blue socks for heaven sakes. I would'nt like to wear it.
Liam Reilly
719 Posted 14/01/2013 at 17:57:42
Tony 698
Don't buy it if you don't like it, but it's nice to have the option. I was quoted Euro141 online just before Xmas to send the third kit shirt to my home in Dublin (just the Shirt). I clearly didn't buy it, but if the shirt was in a Store in Dublin, I may well have bought it.

Similarly, youngsters in Ireland are not going to choose to support a club where they can't get the shirt, whilst all of their pals wear replica's.

BK talks about no money, but chooses to get into bed with the likes of KitBag and Chang who do nothing for the Brand.

Dennis Stevens
812 Posted 14/01/2013 at 21:23:06
The Kitbag deal does seem poor but I can see why the club went for it as when the operation was in-house we actually managed to lose money. Quite how this was achieved is beyond me, as I'd have thought football club merchandising is practically a license to print money!
David Wilson
031 Posted 15/01/2013 at 20:30:34
Dear Lads, It's funny how I can't see something when it is staring me in the face. John Otway above discussed asking Terry Leahy to sort out our merchandising, of course, that would be a brilliant idea.

There might be some contractual stuff impeding that, such as we have signed some exclusive deal whereby 'Bill' gets a large payment up front, such as what happened with the sale of Finch Farm and we are tied in to 'nothing' for years. But what Terry Leahy did for Tesco really was quite amazing and if I were 'Bill' besides selling the Club for what I bought it for as I am a Blue I would get Terry Leahy involved from top to bottom.

How many times have we wanted a cup of tea at the match and given up because of the queue, or disinterested staff behind the counter? Bill misses out on so much money. [I loved reading the posts on this one, as this is one of my pet subjects.]

Steavey Buckley
175 Posted 16/01/2013 at 14:55:22
Merchandising should be carried out by professionally trained staff, who have an excellent track record in the commercial world. Everton merchandise should be found in every store in the world where there is an EPL interest. Not just selling stuff on line from an Everton web page.
Eric Myles
480 Posted 18/01/2013 at 00:38:46
Declan #628, my mate posted 2 shirts to me here in Thailand and the cost was 30 Quid!!

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