By Rodger Armstrong
I was a teenager in the 80s, a tumultuous time for the country, nowhere more than in the city of Liverpool. The 80s also saw the greatest period in Everton’s history, what a time to be alive, in that respect. Great music too, of course, doubtless rooted in the mood of rebellion that hung in the air.
Alan Bleasdale’s “Boys from the Blackstuff” captured the time brilliantly, especially with his tragic hero Yosser Hughes, for many a icon for the despair wrought by Thatcherite policies. Yosser’s “Gizza Job” refrain came to sound like a Requiem for a way of life that was being destroyed, but it still showed a willingness to do anything to earn a crust. “I can do that” Yosser would say to anyone who would listen.
As football fans we all fancy ourselves as pundits, tacticians, managers even. When things aren’t going well we often think, and might indeed say, just what Yosser said.
Football has, as we know, changed beyond all recognition since the 80s. It’s a business now and lost much of its soul, but, take the business out, and Everton matters so much to so many of us. We care about how the team plays, who is picked, the formation, who is bought, who is sold; we expect commitment and effort as a bare minimum, ultimately we will judge on results.
On EvertonBusinessMatters, though, we are all about the business (not the bass!) so let’s park the on pitch stuff and put that business hat back on.
EFC will turnover around £170m in 16/17, which means that the Manager/Head Coach’s wages, at £6m pa, (excluding the wages of his support staff and the settlement paid to his previous employers) will represent 3.5% of total revenue. That is an unusually high percentage for any business, and it also represents a significant exposure to a potential single point of failure.
The only way a business can justify a financial commitment of that magnitude is by “added value”. Any executive commanding that kind of salary would expect some demanding targets and measures against which they would be judged. They would also expect to work long hours, eat, sleep and breathe the business, and to be challenged regularly with demanding questions from shareholders and customers alike.
Crucially they would have to report to the Board on their performance against a detailed Plan with agreed objectives.
It is at this point that the problems at Everton hit us square between the eyes (like a Yosser headbutt), and we cannot restrict this to on pitch targets. There is little evidence of a Plan with meaningful and stretching objectives for any of the Club’s executives and senior managers; be that commercial income from the various sources (crucially examined in EvertonBusinessMatters11), media communications, social media engagement etc. In fact we do not know who is responsible and, critically, accountable for each of these pillars of the business.
No wonder then that the Manager thinks standing still is realistic, the majority shareholder refers (indirectly I know) to “expected losses”, and the CEO glories in “record” sponsorship deals, just a bit bigger than the last ones. If standing still, which actually means losing more ground on the “Top 6” is all we can do, then we certainly can’t justify the huge salary expenditure as there is no added value.
Some might even argue that the current League points haul could have been achieved with Yosser Hughes running the team; hard to see it being much worse.
Business is about anticipation, predicting the future and being ready for it; just like in football, seeing a gap, making a run, collecting the pass or making a tackle. In just over a week we may only have the FA Cup (and a relegation scrap) to look forward to.
Successful businessmen see these things coming, they act and they don’t wait until they have crashed to earth before pressing the ejector button. They demand the highest standards in all aspects of the business (NSNO, plain and simple) and are ruthless in their search for talent. They pay well to get the best, but they demand that added value that only the best can bring.
At the very, very least they communicate with the key stakeholders in a way that doesn’t need to air the dirty sheets in public, but assures the people who matter the most, the fans, that concerns are understood, that there is a Plan and that action will be taken as necessary to meet that Plan.
If they don’t they risk a confrontation with Yosser……
Up The Toffees!