Everton majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has broken his silence with an official response to an open letter by the Everton Fans’ Forum, though it may do little to appease a fan base frustrated and worried about the club’s plight.
Moshiri said he was “fully aware and understand the concerns” of the supporters, but insisted he had faith in manager Frank Lampard, director of football Kevin Thelwell and - crucially - the board of directors, adding that “stability must be the key to progression”.
That appears to be a direct rejection of calls from Everton fan groups for a change at board level, while he opted against responding to an open letter signed by those fan groups, including Royal Blue Mersey, earlier this week.
This is not the first time he has publicly backed a manager only to sack him shortly after. Lose to Southampton on Saturday and Lampard’s position may be the next example.
“I have faith in the work being done not only by our manager, but our director of football and our board of directors. That faith is based on my knowledge of the depth and quality of work being done both at Finch Farm and the Royal Liver Building - and of the plan that is in place. I am confident that we have skilled, experienced and focused professionals at all levels of the club. We are all agreed that our current league position must and will improve.”
Moshiri argued that he had not been afraid of making changes to address failure in the past, evidenced by the numerous managers to have graced the Goodison dugout under his tenure. He also highlighted, understandably, the progress made in building the club’s new stadium, the one true success story of his time at the club so far and something he does deserve credit for.
“In almost seven years since my arrival at the club, I have significantly increased my investment and our new stadium has become reality. We regularly review our performance and initiate change where we feel that the club falls short of standard. This has meant that we have seen turnover in managers, directors of football and several board members, but always as we have striven to achieve success. Whilst, in virtually every instance, change has been supported and encouraged by fans, stability must be the key to progression.”
Moshiri also confirmed that representatives from the board would engage with the Fan Advisory Board to discuss concerns raised in the upcoming fan sessions.
“I welcome the plans for the Fan Advisory Board (FAB) to host a series of sessions with fans to gather feedback, thoughts and concerns – of which the Forum is a part. I can confirm representatives from the Club’s Board will engage with the FAB and meet with its designated representative to discuss the collated fan feedback as soon as possible following the completion of those scheduled sessions.
“The focus of myself, the club and the fans is aligned - a better Everton - and I am confident we can move forward in a constructive and positive manner.”
Though a response to the Fans’ Forum open letter and an acknowledgement that the current league position need to improve is welcome and appreciated, I’m not sure it will be enough to placate the majority of the fans, many of whom are planning a sit in protest after Saturday’s game.
Moshiri is understandably keen to stress unity at what is clearly a difficult time for the club, but his faith in Lampard and the board does not tally with what the fans see, which is a team seemingly sinking into the abyss.
But what needs to happen now is positive action to back up the positive words. Doing nothing is not an option.
Moshiri and the board need to deliver the new attacking players Lampard needs to bolster an under-performing side. Or if they feel it is time for a change in the dugout then it needs to be done quickly to allow any successor time bring in fresh faces in what’s left of the January window.