So in the end the villain of the piece turns out to be the potential saviour, articulating the thoughts of many fans with good grace, intelligence and a great passion for the job he excels at.
It’s been a remarkable few days, but over recent months there’s a clear pattern evolving. Let’s start with the General Meeting over winning trophies and not settling for being a museum. Then in early January Koeman loses patience with the lack of progress over the Schneiderlin deal, says his piece, and thankfully it happens. Fast forward to the last week. Both agent and club (in the form of Koeman) suggesting Rom’s signature is close, Jim White claiming there was total agreement, yet no signature?
Then bang! On Tuesday afternoon the news that Rom does not wish to commit to a new contract. Initial reactions towards Rom is unfavourable which is understandable given the anticipated signing and assurances it would happen.
Wednesday dawns and news from Peel that the Bramley Moore Stadium agreement is very close to completion, yet the most significant event in the club’s history since the John Moores’ days is still over-shadowed by the Lukaku situation.
Eventually late Wednesday evening, the interview is published. Lo and behold, Lukaku says what many fans have been saying for years. He’s not sure of our ambitions and the Board’s plans, and because of his desire to be the very best and to be a winner “trophies not goals” he can’t commit his future to Everton.
Now I don’t believe the interview is an isolated event – it’s been a calculated process. Yes, there are some that might question the timing, the potential to de-rail the rest of the season, but such is the clarity of message and desire for the best (NSNO anyone?) that few can accuse Lukaku of this with any justification.
I think bigger forces are at work – stretching as far as Raiola and Moshiri. Earlier today I was talking to some Evertonians about the motive for Raiola to be involved in the internal affairs of Everton. Raiola isn’t a “super-agent” because he’s a fool. He’s an expert strategist, a networker, a person who aligns interests of owners, clients, clubs alike (albeit for self serving interests). Hear me out on this…..
Football club owners and agents make money in two ways, through the circulation of capital within the football world, but more importantly by growing the asset values of their businesses (clubs) and their tradeable assets (players). Profitability in the form of the P&L has in most cases not been the primary objective. It’s all about growth, growing the asset value of the business. (Players on the other hand make their money in cash through their wages, but ultimately they’re commodities traded by their owners and agents).
Growing the asset value can be achieved by building a stadium, by achieving success on the pitch and the associated sponsorship rewards, but also critically by a constant turnover of players, most increasing in value through the course of their career generating profits for both clubs and their agents along the way. Previously I’ve demonstrated that even despite all the cash that’s flowed into the Premier League and the huge inflation of player values, it is player trading that adds significantly to the business model. All of the top 7 clubs show net player trading profits from 2009 to most recent accounts.
Raiola and other agents have a huge interest in continuing this “plate spinning”, ensuring sufficient circulation of high value players to benefit the trading clubs, their clients and ultimately themselves. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that Raiola is complicit with Moshiri in these comments and actions by Lukaku. A more competitive and higher spending Everton adds competition to the top of the Premier League, forcing our peers to spend more to remain ahead of the game. In economic terms there’s a huge multiplier effect by making 7 clubs highly competitive at the top of the division rather than there being 4 or 5.
For Moshiri, he knows for us to be competitive we need to retain our best players and invest significantly to our squad to give Koeman and co the chance to compete and win trophies, thus he’s a critical part in the overall continued monetary expansion of the Premier League to keep the bubble growing.
So where does this leave us? It leaves us with a clear message known by the vast majority of the fan base for many a year. Without a fully competent Board with an aggressive growth strategy, built on creating a successful footballing team winning trophies we’re not going anywhere fast.
It’s an old argument, it doesn’t need repeating at length here, but to almost all observers our Board is not up to the task at hand. Moshiri, has been with us for just over 12 months and we’ve made progress, cleaning the balance sheet, bringing in coaching excellence, adding to the squad (although not yet in sufficient numbers and quality), getting to the point of a new stadium, but I’d argue, as has Lukaku, has that been achieved despite the Board, not because of it?
The message from Moshiri, Koeman and Lukaku (perhaps also as a Raiola proxy) is that the rate of progress is not fast enough, we need more and we need it sooner. Each of these have at least one common characteristic – they’re winners in their chosen fields, they’ve achieved/are achieving great things. Their now very obvious view is that the other supporting cast, the Board, are not up to the task.
The case for changing the Board and senior executives is very clear – it just needs to be executed.