10/01/2024 60comments  |  Jump to last

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Peter Johnson, the former owner and chairman of Everton and Tranmere Rovers, has died at the age of 84 his family have announced.

In a statement the family said that he "died peacefully surrounded by his partner Mel and daughters Susie, Kate and Charlotte."

Johnson, a successful local businessmen who built a hamper foods empire, Park Foods, in Birkenhead, acquired a controlling 68% stake in Everton in 1994 and brought with him the hope that he could finance the club's return to the pinnacle of the domestic game after seven fallow years without a major trophy.

He famously hired Joe Royle to replace Mike Walker just months after taking the helm and the Goodison legend lead the Toffees to FA Cup glory in 1995.

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The heady optimism that followed, with the likes of Andrei Kanchelskis, Nick Barmby and Gary Speed arriving on the heels of Daniel Amokachi and Vinny Samways in big-money deals, wasn't fulfilled, however, and Royle departed in March 1997 following a poor run of form.

Royle was replaced by Walter Smith but the Scot's tenure was hamstrung by increasing cash-flow problems that ultimately forced Johnson to sell the club to Bill Kenwright's consortium in 1999 and he returned to his first love, Tranmere.


Reader Comments (60)

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Rob Halligan
1 Posted 10/01/2024 at 19:01:04
Peter Johnson, the former chairman of the club, has sadly died, at the age of 84 years old.
Danny O’Neill
2 Posted 10/01/2024 at 19:06:03
Rest in peace, Peter Johnson.

Regardless of options, both he and Bill Kenwright were human beings and had family.

We don't always get it right. Whoever does?

I've vowed not to go and meet the maker until we win our 10th league title, 6th FA Cup, finally win the League Cup and get another European trophy.

We'll see how long my heart sustains.

God rest.

Kieran Kinsella
3 Posted 10/01/2024 at 19:07:00

It's a rough time to be an ex-Everton chairman. Three gone in 5 months.

RIP Peter Johnson the last one to preside over a trophy winning team.

Simon Harrison
4 Posted 10/01/2024 at 20:08:39
RIP, Peter Johnson, a much more competent Chairman than his successor, by quite some way!

He didn't do too bad, he just got drawn into a spending game, when he should have focused on revenue generation. Bygones, and go with the grace of God, Peter.

Colin Glassar
5 Posted 10/01/2024 at 20:33:29
Paul Birmingham
6 Posted 10/01/2024 at 20:59:32
RIP, Peter Johnson, and having met him in Dublin airport after Big Nev's testimonial in 1995 v Drogheda, he was a polite and a generous Chairman buying a few pints of Guinness for a few of us.

The years have flown by but hopefully a new dawn of genuine hope will arrive soon for Everton FC.

Peter Mills
7 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:11:30
Condolences to Mr Johnson’s family and friends.
Chris Wright
8 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:18:40
RIP Mr Johnson. Any condolences are tempered by his treatment of Walter Smith and Howard Kendall
Paul O'Neill
9 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:25:28
RIP. Made mistakes but also made some good decisions whilst Chairman. Had ambition but couldn’t fulfil it financially, ultimately. Prayers for him and his family.
Mal van Schaick
10 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:28:47
A part of Everton history and kept us afloat in difficult times. Thank you. R.I.P.
Duncan McDine
11 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:35:34
Massive respect to the ToffeeWeb crew for not going with tabloid-style headline "Johnson Out".

Pedantic note to Lyndon - HK3 was manager before Walter Smith.

As others have mentioned, he was chairman when Everton last won a trophy. It probably says more about his successors than it does about him. Best wishes to his family and friends if any of them happen to be ToffeeWebbers.

Alan McGuffog
12 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:44:46
He provided some leadership and made decisions, made some things happen. The Park End stand. The link with Home Farm in Ireland. Winning the Cup. His stewardship was followed by nigh on thirty years of treading water.
Ian Riley
13 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:48:25
RIP Mr Johnson and thank you.
Jerome Shields
14 Posted 10/01/2024 at 21:49:23
The last Chairman to get Silverware.
RIP Peter Johnson.
Karl Masters
15 Posted 10/01/2024 at 22:08:04
Peter Johnson commissioned the new Souvenir shop by Goodison. Love the Tower design of it and, compared to a small room under the Main Stand that preceded it, it was a big leap forward.

On the other hand, we lost out on 6 years of having Nigel Martyn in goal (1997-2003) by showing the potential signing around a hamper factory in Birkenhead rather than Goodison and Bellefield. No wonder Nigel chose Leeds!

Also famous for the stadium move that never was (thank God) to Kirkby Golf Course and/or Widnes that featured a new stadium impression including a fan waving a sombrero!

A mixed bag, but he gave 100% for the club so I can only wish his family well and hope he rests in peace.

Ed Prytherch
16 Posted 10/01/2024 at 23:45:42
Selling Duncan behind the back of Walter Smith was his downfall.
Jay Harris
17 Posted 11/01/2024 at 01:13:02

IMO, his downfall was not backing Joe Royle to sign Tore Andre Flo, causing him to resign.

Karl, he was also the last chairman to put his hand in his own pockets and build the Park End stand.

It wasn't him that sent Nigel Martyn to Leeds, it was Cliff Finch who was manager at the hamper factory and whose job it was to show Nigel Martyn around the facilities – not point him towards Leeds.

Peter Johnson was a nice guy who had time for everyone, unlike the phony Luvvy who couldnt lie in bed straight.

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 11/01/2024 at 06:16:34
Reading the article again and the posts, he done good and bad. Who doesn't in life?

The good? The players mentioned above that he sanctioned the signing of. We just couldn't sustain it as the pot ran dry (sound familiar?). But he gave it a go and we won the FA Cup. The club shop as mentioned, and…

The bad? The Duncan Ferguson saga (whatever happened, I don't know but it was shady). The supposedly bad handling of signing Nigel Martyn. And that dodgy-looking Steve Simonsen deal with him having interests in both Everton and Tranmere.

And effectively forcing Joe Royle to quit by not backing him.

I also think there was the stigma of knowing he was a boyhood Liverpool supporter and former shareholder. With Michael Kenrick's reference to "Evertonian Mafia", he was always up against it. Parallels to the ill-fated decision to appoint Benitez.

If the tide turned, it would go toxic quickly.

I'll admit to wanting him out at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight (always a great thing), I'd give him a 6 or 7 out of 10.

Random one. I wrote to him during his tenure suggesting he redevelop Goodison or move us.

To his credit, he responded. Okay, it may have been his PA, but it was a direct response to my letter, on topic and personally signed by him.

Lee Courtliff
19 Posted 11/01/2024 at 06:44:44
1994 was the year I truly fell in love with this great club of ours, no specific reason as it just sort of happened without me realising it.

I was 12 years old and those days of Joe Royle, The Dogs of War, the Cup win, Duncan Ferguson and Andrei Kanchelskis (along with Limpar and Stuart) are my favourite days as an Evertonian. By far.

I was young and reared on stories of the 1980s by my Dad and I was truly convinced that I'd see us win everythng! All from my season ticket seat in the Top Balcony.

And Peter Johnson was a big part of that. He talked the talk and walked the walk, at least initially. The interview he gave during the build-up to the FA Cup Final gave no doubt that he intended to take us to the top and he backed it up only a few weeks later with the big-money signing of Andrei.

A Top 6 place followed and I went into the 1996-97 season in no doubt that we'd be challenging right at the very top before we ended up finishing 16th! Haha, the days before I knew just how much Everton love to tease you before letting you down.

We all know how it ended but, for a couple of years, it really seemed like we were onto something with a club legend as manager and a Chairman who was willing to back him. They always appeared to get along very well and in sync with each other.

Thank you, Mr Johnson, for your part in my favourite childhood memories and may you rest in peace. Condolences to his family and friends.

Jim Bennings
20 Posted 11/01/2024 at 07:40:12
As crazy as it sounds, it was during Peter Johnson's era that I enjoyed watching Everton most during the past 30 years.

The appointment of Big Joe Royle was a masterstroke and for at least 2 years the club was making good progress, won a Cup, finished 6th, and was signing the type of player that we all wanted and probably should have been signing in the early '90s (Peter Beardsley aside).

Contrary to what people say, I don't think the Duncan Ferguson sale was Johnson's worse moment; I actually think it was good money for Big Dunc as he was too inury prone, that proved the case at Newcastle and when he returned to us in 2000.

I think the way it all happened didn't sit well with folk but £8 million back in the day was good money.

Anyway we all know how it all ended after that, it was a case of what could have been in that era though, the money was there and the managers were definitely there in serial winners like Walter Smith, who was also backed that first summer but probably failed to rectify the need of a goal scorer with that war chest.

Christy Ring
21 Posted 11/01/2024 at 08:13:13
Condolences to his family and RIP, as others have said.

We had highs and lows with Peter, but the man who replaced him ran us into the ground.

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 11/01/2024 at 08:24:10
Jim, you make a very valid point about Duncan.

I would never slate a player due to injury. It's part of the game. Some suffer more than most and it could have been down to his physique.

But I always felt he didn't really live up to the hype despite giving us some memorable moments. As Joe Royle put it, he became the legend before he became the player.

In fairness, back then he was something for the supporters to cling to.

That first derby goal. The one against Manchester United, which I had to watch in an Army Barracks in Swanbourne, Australia. I think that effectively pushed us over the line for Champions League qualification despite a nervous run in and even though that didn't work out.

For me, he never lived up to his potential on a consistent basis and his discipline let him down on many occasions.

The other aspect is that having watched and listened to him when he eventually started communicating, I thought he was a reluctant footballer. At times I don't know if he liked playing.

I know that won't go down too well for a certain generation, but that's my opinion.

But I appreciate what he means to those supporters who idolised him.

Anthony Dove
23 Posted 11/01/2024 at 09:02:22
Because he was allegedly a Liverpool supporter, he was
often referred to as Agent Johnson.

However, in reality, he was a breath of fresh air during his spell as Chairman.

Christopher Timmins
24 Posted 11/01/2024 at 09:29:48
Peter Johnson's time in charge saw the last silverware come to Goodison. He will be fondly remembered for that alone given what has come to pass since his departure.

He should have supported Big Joe, I have no doubt about that. Before selling Duncan Ferguson we spent a lot of money bringing in players. The Ferguson sale was good business at that time.

RIP, Peter.

Mike Owen
25 Posted 11/01/2024 at 09:42:01
It should always be remembered that Peter Johnson actually put his own money into the club, not just paying a vendor for a controlling stake, but also creating new shares in the club and buying those, so that cash went into the club.

It was with this money we were able to buy Kanchelskis, Limpar, Ferguson etc and, as a result, win the FA Cup in 95.

He also built the megastore, which looked impressive then, to improve revenue streams.

If only he hadn't have come out with the idea of leaving Goodison and building a new stadium on the outskirts.

Such a revolutionary idea, as it was then, was always going to run into opposition. But coming from a former Liverpool season ticket holder, this was always going to prompt suspicion and raise hackles, especially if our results on the pitch disappointed.

And so, I would suggest, he made a fundamental misjudgement in thinking he could be the person to pull off that very ambitious plan.

However, he had previously done a tremendous job at Tranmere, taking them from the very bottom of the Football League to the top reaches of what is now called the Championship, and to the brink of the Premier League. So, to me, it would be understandable if his confidence was overflowing.

Peter Johnson gave Everton a shot in the arm and moved us onwards. But he was to be the first of several who could not turn the supertanker around.

Dave Abrahams
26 Posted 11/01/2024 at 10:22:21
Peter Johnson was a man who came and met supporters in good times and bad, I spoke to him in the Lower Bullens Road stand a couple of times he was asking supporters what they thought of the team and listened to suggestions.

I wrote to him once telling him I couldn't get a ticket for the derby game at Anfield., He wrote back and told me to send a cheque or postal order for the price of the ticket and he would send me one. I did what he asked and received the ticket.

As for Joe Royle, Joe did a marvellous job initially but couldn't keep it up, lack of money or whatever, he struggled badly in his last year. Tor Andre Flo coming to Everton was a load of nonsense, the lad was always set on going to Chelsea and let it be known. I think Joe was wanting to sign his brother, much lesser known than Andre.

It was left to Dave Watson to keep us up that season as player-manager as we were still in relegation trouble when Joe was given the bullet, no matter how they described his leaving!

Peter Johnson bought Everton with his own money and the less said about the next man, who bought Everton off him with somebody else's money, the better.

Ian Hollingworth
27 Posted 11/01/2024 at 10:58:14
Dave Prentice's book, A Grand Old Team to Report is a good read generally but has some good insights into Johnson's reign as Chairman.
Garry Martin
28 Posted 11/01/2024 at 11:03:19
RIP Mr Johnson and condolences to his family.
Barry Rathbone
29 Posted 11/01/2024 at 11:18:13
The problem Johnson had was timing.

He arrived just after Abramovich had moved the football ownership goal posts. The bridge to the imperious tower in the sky lorded by Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal would no longer cost millions but billions.

He gave it a go but just didn't have the dough.

Finn Taylor
30 Posted 11/01/2024 at 11:43:59
Barry, I could be wrong, but I have a feeling Johnson came in 1994? Abramovich didn't take Chelsea till 2003?
Clive Rogers
31 Posted 11/01/2024 at 11:53:48
Finn, you are correct. Johnson sold Everton in 1999 while Abromovich took over Chelsea in 2003.
Finn Taylor
32 Posted 11/01/2024 at 11:59:49
Thing is, I think Barry's point is still valid – even by 1993-94, we had fallen behind. I could never understand why Kendall got rid of Beardsley?

But football had changed by the time Peter Johnson came in – Jack Walker had thrown huge sums at Blackburn and Sir John at Newcastle also did the same. Chelsea, suddenly went about signing marquee players – Gullit, Zola – and I used to think: Why aren't we in for these players?

If memory serves, Johnson lashed some cash at players when Walter Smith came in, Collins, Dacourt, Materrazzi, Bakayoko... all of whom left fairly quickly. Isn't Collins on record as saying he was misled about finances?

Clive Rogers
33 Posted 11/01/2024 at 12:11:08
Johnson was much maligned due to his red connections and then the actions he had to take to save his businesses and fortune, but the owners since he left have been far worse.
Kevin Molloy
34 Posted 11/01/2024 at 12:14:53
It's interesting; at the time, I couldn't bear Johnson. 'We want Johnson out!' but, in hindsight, he actually 'wasn't that bad'.

He obviously made mistakes, but at least he was on the level. Comparing him to what came after shows clearer than ever that Kenwright was a straightforward parasite. Grabbed hold of the host, wouldn't let go, brought nothing to the party except a sort of stasis borrowed from appointing competent managers.

And then Kenwright turned his interest into making tens of millions, passing us on to the stupidest billionaire that ever lived. Sickening really.

Paul Washington
35 Posted 11/01/2024 at 13:23:03
Condolences to Peter Johnson's family and friends.

My arl fella was a steward in the Upper Bullens for years, he got to know Peter Johnson and liked him.

He once told me dad "I would never have had that" – referring to the new Park End stand. He thought it was a cheap option!

Jim Bennings
36 Posted 11/01/2024 at 13:24:47
Everton's problems started well before Peter Johnson arrived.

We allowed ourselves to be left behind in the late 80's and early 90's, partly down to the European ban but other clubs like Arsenal shouldn't have been leaving us behind.

We started selling the best players and signing basically poor imitations that weren't fit for purpose, again I exclude Beardsley from that and probably Paul Rideout to some extent due to the fact he did score a winning Cup Final goal.

But while clubs were out there signing the Les Ferdinand's, Chris Sutton's, Alan Shearer's and Ian Wright's of the league, we were getting Preki and the like.

When Johnson came we did at least try to buy some of the better talent on offer, Kanchelskis was akin to us now buying Son from Spurs.

Gary Speed and Nick Barmby were good signings and others like Craig Short was a highly rated defender at the time.

Sean Mitchell
37 Posted 11/01/2024 at 13:46:58
I wonder what Peter Johnson thought about the state of the club before his passing.

Surely he took an interest since he was once chairman.

Football has changed for the worse since his day.

Jimmy Hogan
38 Posted 11/01/2024 at 14:58:45
RIP Peter Johnson.

He once told a friend of mine that he was just sitting down for Sunday lunch with his family, when a brick came through the window. That's what it's like being Everton Chairman.

Ian Bennett
39 Posted 11/01/2024 at 15:56:00
I remember being sat next to him at a Deloitte dinner in the 2000s when they had just moved into the first office in Spinningfields.

It was a strange experience as, not that much before I had been on the pitch protesting against him after Coventry HK3.

Sad for his family and friends.

John Raftery
40 Posted 11/01/2024 at 16:09:13
Condolences to Mr Johnson's family and friends.

Appointing Joe Royle was the best thing he did during his years at the club. Arguably the worst thing he did was letting Joe go. Whatever the football and financial justifications for the sale of Ferguson, to do so behind the manager's back was a terrible misjudgment.

As we have seen repeated in recent years, the recruitment of players in the 90s was a scattergun effort. Some decent players like Kanchelskis, Speed, Collins, Dacourt and Materazzi were signed for fees we couldn't afford. They came and went quicker than we could say Ibrahima Bakayoko.

There was little sense of coherence, of anything being built for the long term.

Mark Murphy
41 Posted 11/01/2024 at 17:30:59
I nearly met him once….

I was working in Mallorca for a villa holiday company and got back to my office to find a business card from him and a little Everton pennant and a message saying “hey Mark, you missed a great lunch”!

He’d been treating the owner of the hire car business I worked with to lunch on his yacht in Puerto Pollensa. Tbh I was gutted at the time.

Danny O’Neill
42 Posted 11/01/2024 at 17:36:54
As we're on this type of thread, although not Everton related, sad news about Sven Goran Eriksson this morning.
Barry Rathbone
43 Posted 11/01/2024 at 17:40:46
Finn 30

You are spot on.

I will now retire from public life to contemplate the onset of senility and learn the banjo. The straw of Chelsea already spending big and winning stuff under Bates even if they were effectively "bust" of no solace.

Brian Wilkinson
44 Posted 11/01/2024 at 17:41:34
R.i.p Mr Johnson, our last sucessful Chairman who dipped into his own pocket, bought Beardsley Kanchelskis, Collins Decourt and joe royle in, landed an f a cup and built a brand new Park stand.

The guy made mistakes, but on a whole he did the best he could, and left us in the Black when he sold up, always had a lot of respect for Johnson.

Ken Kneale
45 Posted 11/01/2024 at 17:47:36
Condolences to Mr Johnson's family and friends.

I confess to being upset with him at the end but I think he genuinely gave it a run but perhaps lacked the nouse himself or to appoint those that did.

Certainly, by the standard of what followed, his tenure is far from the worst time for EFC, and history will judge it that way in my view.

History will judge the period from his departure to the current very harshly - much more so in hindsight than we do now in many ways not just for the sheer incompetence but for the scale of the smoke, mirrors, deceptions, and the deliberate breaking of the bond between supporters by as yet to my knowledge, unsubstituted allegations around personal and group safety, the first of which came out in the media on the eve of one of the most important games in recent history.

Kevin Edward
46 Posted 11/01/2024 at 18:42:35
Agree with Ken #45.

It seemed bad at the time, but nothing like the mess of the last few years.

As Chairman he delivered the FA Cup, and battering Tottenham in the semi will always be a joy to remember, and following it up with a win under the twin towers.

Footballs moved on, but he gave us some real ‘good times'.

Craig Walker
47 Posted 11/01/2024 at 19:57:08
The last time we won silverware and we were competitive in derby matches. Did we ever lose a Goodison derby during the Johnson era?

It ended acrimoniously but Peter Johnson seemed like a nice bloke who tried hard to bring the good times back and with some success.

Thanks, Peter. RIP.

Clive Rogers
48 Posted 11/01/2024 at 20:23:20
Brian, 44, the Park End stand was officially opened early in 1994. Johnson took over later that year I believe. It was certainly planned and built before his involvement.
Kieran Kinsella
49 Posted 11/01/2024 at 20:26:03

We didn't lose at Goodison v RS under Johnson. M

As soon as Kenwright took over we drew the first then lost four in a row at home v the RS. I guess that is when we became plucky little Everton.

Joe McMahon
50 Posted 11/01/2024 at 21:10:51
Kevin, as Evertonians we live off crumbs, but the semi final at Elland Road was one hell of a perfect day..

And yes, there were mistakes but a few years of Peter Johnson were better IMO of 30 years of Kenwright.

John Flood
51 Posted 11/01/2024 at 21:42:35
Clive (48) you must mean late 1994 (just looked it up - it was September 1994) as the old stand was demolished when we played Wimbledon in THAT game in May 1994.

I remember the original plans for the stand being printed in a programme which were a lot more impressive than what ended up being built with a much larger double-decker stand shown. I do believe that Peter Johnson would have had the larger stand built.

Karl Masters
52 Posted 12/01/2024 at 01:11:43
John (51) you are correct.

The plans in the Chelsea programme in April 1991 showed a continuation of the Bullens Road stand around and behind the Park End.

What we ended up with was the result of the over-cautious leadership of Dr Marsh, Carter and the arrogant Jim Greenwood (Club Secretary) who actually ‘only' spent £900k on that stand. It cost £2.1M and £1.2M of it was a grant from the Football Trust!

Had we built the original 10,000-seat double-decker stand, Goodison would have had a capacity of 44,000. The extra cost would have been recouped many times over.

There are parallels in a way with the new Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock now as it's clear to me that a capacity of 53,000 is too small. Another 10,000 seats would sell out 90% of the time, but I guess the site is too small to build anything bigger.

Derek Thomas
53 Posted 12/01/2024 at 07:03:49
Karl @52;

Yet more parallels, the 'new' main stand cost £7M, for another 10% (£700,000) it could've been obstructed view and support post free... and, if I remember correctly John Moores was still in charge, so Johnson & Co were in good company.

Jerome Shields
54 Posted 12/01/2024 at 17:30:45
David #26,

Was Joe Royle's loss of momentum in part, in the season following the FA Cup win, poorly negotiated contracts? Which had a lot of key players' contracts ending at the same time?

I remember this being a reported issue at the time.

Brian Wilkinson
56 Posted 12/01/2024 at 23:09:35
Clive @48, yes that's correct, the Park End stand was in full swing before Johnson took over.

It should have read we had a new megastore built and a new stand was in full service in 1994, apologies, mate.

They were the good times, decent players brought in, a decent manager, and for a short while we did have better times.

Compare Johnson's quip of wanting to bring the European Cup to Everton, okay, bit ambitious on that, but I much prefer his outlook of aiming high, than "plucky little Everton".

Bill Watson
57 Posted 13/01/2024 at 00:26:24
The decline of our club from 'Big 5' to also-rans started in the 1990s under Philip Carter.

Thinking small was epitomised by the single-deck Park Stand and having a club shop under the main stand where everything was behind the counter.

The stand was already being built when Johnson bought the club and he said he'd have gone for a double-decker if he'd have been in charge.

Bill Watson
58 Posted 13/01/2024 at 00:48:46
Karl #52,

Everton was denied access to Football Trust grants because we already had seats on all four sides and the grants were intended to fund the replacement of terracing.

I fully agree that the new stadium capacity is far too small. At one of the many pre-construction meetings, I asked Dan Meiss why it was so low. He said the 53,000 figure was recommended by a firm of London-based consultants and, even with the restricted site, he could have designed a stadium for close on 60,000.

Jerome Shields
59 Posted 13/01/2024 at 07:24:45
If my memory serves me right, Johnson bought Everton for £8 million and sold for £26 million. So Everton was a cheap buy for whatever reason. He must have turned things around for it to be worth such an increase.

Bill #58

A lot would agree that the capacity should have been 60,000 for the new stadium.

Jerome Shields
60 Posted 13/01/2024 at 11:34:50
From ToffeeWeb

The Royle Abdication

Joe Royle's reign of 29 months as Everton manager came to an end at 4:00 pm on 27th March 1997 - English football's transfer deadline day. Although his departure had been forecast in the weeks preceding the actual event, no-one then believed that Joe would walk out on such a crucial day for the club. Most felt that he would now stay until the end of the season when his position would come under review based on the way his team dealt with the looming relegation crisis.

Darker rumours at the time suggested that he would have gone during the close season whether he liked it or not anyway and what "facts" we have gathered about the catalyst behind the "Royle abdication" offer nothing concrete to prove this supposition.

The official club explanation for Royle's departure was an amicable split forced by differences over how to progress for the future and, most probably, buying policy as well. The saga hinged on the attempted purchase of three players: Tore Andre Flo and Claus Eftevaag from SK Brann of Norway and Barry Horne from Birmingham City. Flo was the real target and Eftevaag was the make-weight in a deal totalling £4m to bring the two Bergen players to Goodison Park.

Eftevaag flew to Merseyside for talks and a medical (which he is rumoured to have failed anyway) while Flo was given just a few hours to decide his future while in Saudia Arabia with the Norwegian international squad. Somewhat predictably in hindsight, Flo felt that he was being rushed into a decision and pulled out of the deal.

What is now accepted as the truth is that Blues Chairman Peter Johnson was unhappy with Royle's plans to sign Eftevaag anyway, despite the collapse of the Flo side of the negotiations, as well as bid to bring back Barry Horne after less than a year at St Andrews for £600,000. The Chairman refused to sanction the deal and Royle specifically travelled to Birkenhead to confront Johnson where upon it is presumed that Royle explained that he could not go on as manager if he was not allowed to purchase the players he wanted and Johnson more or less accepted that as an offer of resignation as he was not about to back down from his stance of buying what he felt were substandard players. Eftevaag was sent home without having signed and Horne remained at Birmingham who had signed him just a few months previously for £250,000.

The transfer deadline for incoming players passed and Everton had failed to add any extra new blood to their squad - except, as it later became known, for the signing of Slaven Bilic from West Ham for £4.5m but he was to see out the season with the Hammers in a bid to save them from relegation. The East London side survived and so, happily, did Everton under the temporary guidance of Dave Watson.

One of the most pressing quesitons concerning the days leading up to Royle's resignation remains to this day, namely why did the club wait until transfer deadline day to approach messers Flo and Eftevaag? It left the players with no time to think over any offer put to them and even Horne seems to have been a last minute panic suggestion by Royle.

Rumours abounded that Everton representatives were visiting the four corners of Western Europe looking at players but only Flo fitted the bill as a potential talent and, ultimately, the whole situation was an enormous let-down. Flo, incidentally, was signed by Chelsea on a free transfer just days after the season ended to complete Everton's misery. Howard Kendall was eventually appointed as Royle's successor in June.

Tom Cannon
61 Posted 17/01/2024 at 14:52:39
Despite being part of the “group” who compete with Peter for ownership of the club, before he took over, I only met him a few times but always found him a true gentleman who thought things through and knew how to run a business.

Before reviewing his tenure, it's only fair to say that his inheritance was poor from the Moores, who did little to develop the club after Sir John's decline.

On the first time I met him, I strongly suggested he needed a complete clear out of the Board, which he resisted. I don't think key members were ever loyal and made his job far harder … perhaps because of their own aspirations.

The appointment of Joe Royle was a master stroke; I'm not sure why Joe left and I'm not sure either ever said why, and I suspect we never will. I vaguely recall Peter was abroad at the time.

The "Agent Johnson" jibe hurt him as did the questions about his continuing role at Tranmere. He had a very positive influence in the Wirral and Merseyside generally. A gentleman who desired to be honoured more widely … certainly merited Honors far more than many.

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