In the past Everton have tried a similar sort of idea before. It has to be said though, that their previous two ideas of this kind weren't backed or pushed by the club, instead it was more of tactic to make more fans feel part of the club as a whole. This time around its seems more than that, there was a real objective at the opening evening, which took place in Liverpool's Hilton hotel. There was a real sense of opportunity for both the club and the business owners and not to mention the understanding that all Evertonians have with each other naturally.
The main objective for the businesses who are part of the venture is to promote businesses owned by Evertonians within the city and gather interest from the other business owners through networking and monthly meetings. Not so complicated. But, I hear you ask "well, whats in it for Everton?"
Apart from the joining fee, which is donated to EITC (£99+ VAT per business), There is a real scope for the club to have fans use their trade to support their club, be it from joiners, engineers, pubs and restaurants, Marketing or even banks and finances. Everton's very own director of marketing and finance Richard Kenyon opened the evening by saying "We are really excited to be able to launch the Everton business club. We want to engaged with the vibrant and strong business community here in Liverpool and provide a completely new business forum, which combines two of the most important institutions in the city- Football and business"
Amongst the packed audience at the evening, ex-players Graham Stuart and Kevin Sheedy were seen talking to the new members and figureheading the event.
Whilst Darren Griffiths asked the questions on stage, Robert Elstone began to answer them. The vast majority of the questions were personal to Elstone's early life and how he managed to become the CEO at our club. The Barnsley born Elstone described how he grew up in a football dominated area and school, but how he longed to be part of Rugby league thanks to his grandfather introducing him to a rugby league team at a younger age. Eventually, he told how he became CEO of Rugby leagues governing body the RFL (Rugby football league) and how from there he worked for an accountants which ultimately lead him to his current role at Everton.
Although I attended as part of a business I sat through most of it with my "fan head" on what was being said. Elstone talked for a while about his own personal route to his success through business and even mentioned about how he has had an objective within the club to bring the fans and the club even closer together. But, from a fans point of view the highlight of what he did say was when he touched upon the amount clubs currently recieve from the TV deal. The CEO said "Whilst there is currently this dog fight happening between Sky and BT for the rights to Premier league football, the money the clubs are making is high. This season we have recieved £85mil and that figure next season will raise to over £120mil. There is a requirement for Premier league football worldwide."
I think I speak for everyone at the event, when I say that comment from Elstone regarding the money the club makes from the television deal, certainly turned many heads and provoked quiet a discussion afterwards. Nobody was expecting it and since we all thought the money we recieved this season from the deal was upwards of £90mil and some even mentioning they had heard rumours of it being of around £100mil and more, you can understand the shock on some peoples faces.
Although that was the surprise of the night, the remainder of the evening ran accorinding to the script and Everton's first team manager Roberto Martinez spoke of his lessons whilst playing and managing football teams and how important he finds it to communicate and deligate with his back room staff. The Spaniard spoke excepionally as expected and linked everything he spoke about regarding football, back to business and how it can do the same for the owners sat in the room.
The evening on the whole was a success, but, only time will tell as to wether its a venture that can last and thrive for both the club and just as importantly its new business club members.