Everton’s escape from relegation will not automatically free them from problems which caused that predicament and proposed new investment will have to inevitably bring changes at boardroom level, according to a leading academic.
While Premier League revenue has been secured for another season – extending their top-flight stay into a 70th season – a club which has cumulative losses of more than £430million in the last four years will have to make significant changes.
And while American investors MSP Sports Capital are poised to buy into the club, Kieran Maguire – from the University of Liverpool Management School’s Centre for Sports Business – believes that will not come without strings attached.
Fans who have been protesting against what they claim is mismanagement by the current board, including chairman Bill Kenwright and CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale in particular, will welcome that prospect but what impact it has on owner Farhad Moshiri’s approach remains to be seen.
“Someone suggested £150million for 25 per cent, which would value the club around £600m. Newcastle went for £300m,” Maguire, speaking about the new investment, told the PA news agency.
“If a new person was coming in, they’d be looking for board representation, more concessions from Moshiri and then where does it leave him: owning three-quarters of a football club and he’d walk away with a big loss.
“MSP are looking to bring two directors onto the board and for there to be changes on the existing board.”
However, a new, albeit partial, boardroom will not sweep away all Everton’s issues.
There are deep-rooted problems at the club which the £600m Moshiri has spent on transfers alone have failed to solve.
That means it will take some turning around and – after back-to-back seasons of narrowly avoiding relegation – it could be a painful and complicated process with a squad overhaul likely to have to take place on a budget, potentially funded by existing player sales.
“It is not Football Manager where you think ‘It’s not going too well, I’ll delete and reset’,” added Maguire.
“You have costs in terms of the infrastructure, legacy costs in terms of player recruitment.
“There won’t be a lot of money to buy players but you still have the issue of wages at 90 per cent of turnover and this overhang of the Premier League charges.
“We don’t know how long that will take to conclude – and the worst-case scenario is a points deduction.
“Football is a talent game and the talent follows the money. It could be you do a Brentford or a Brighton and you succeed at a point in the market but there is no evidence to suggest Everton are capable of doing that.
“How do you get around that? You pay them more money – and that extra money doesn’t exist.”
On the horizon is the new 53,000-capacity stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock but that, too, will be no panacea for finances.
“It will start to kick in for 2024, but it is not going to move the dial a huge amount,” said Maguire.
“And Everton have a fanbase who are traditional supporters from Liverpool so monetising the corporate element may be more difficult.”