How Everton Represent English Football’s Failed Business Model

If you were after a textbook example of top-flight English football’s failed business model, you couldn’t go wrong with Everton – consistently decent Premier League performers with consistently high home crowds and a consistently money-generating transfer policy. Yet, without a sharp shift in attitude and fortune, financial ruin awaits. Since last writing on Everton, little has changed in their attitude to protesting supporters, who appear somewhat “ahead of the game” in realising the need for fresh financial strategies. And the latest accounts tell a familiar story. There is little denying club chairman Bill Kenwright’s motivation. It is hard to dispute CEO Robert Elstone’s claims that Everton are working tirelessly (as officials of every ‘club-in-crisis’ do). But the figures do not lie. Everton’s finances are consistently in Liverpool’s colours. And their short-term solutions inspire diminishing confidence. Both the ‘Director’s Report” and the first “note to the accounts” for the year to May 2011 contain gargantuan sentences about the club’s re-financing strategy – a formal recall of a year negotiating with financial institutions, and a formal version of Kenwright’s now-famous phrase: “I’ve told the bank ‘don’t kill us this season,’” the soundbite which exposed most succinctly Everton’s financial direction. Via the accounts and accompanying statements from Elstone, Everton have tried to portray the borrowing of millions of pounds against future broadcast revenues as “business as usual” and “common industry practice” (which...

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