Jul 21, 2024  |  
 | Remer,MN
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM 
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans.
Sponsor:  QWIKET.COM Sports Media Index – Perfect for Fantasy Sports Fans. Track media mentions of your fantasy team.
29 Apr 2023

Everton FC v Leeds United - Premier League
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: A general view [+][-]
as a fan of Everton reacts as fans of Everton protest on the outside of the stadium, as a flag featuring Bill Kenwright can be seen, during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Leeds United at Goodison Park on February 18, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
More From Forbes

After watching his Everton FC side fall to another comprehensive home loss, manager Sean Dyche was asked whether the exodus of supporters before the final whistle was an indication he’d lost the crowd.

“I don't think so,” he replied in his trademark gravelly tone, “the fans have been terrific, they are amazing here. They will be backing the club until the end.

"I can't decide for 40,000 people, but they will support the club until the end of the season.”

The 1-4 defeat to Newcastle United left Everton second from bottom in the Premier League table, two points from safety with five games of the season remaining.

It’s a position that is far from terminal, but, given the lack of improvement since Dyche was hired in January, left many tipping the Toffees for relegation.

An anticipated move to a state-of-the-art 52,000 stadium next season only increases the devastation demotion from the top flight would bring.

Everton would be tackling the Championship with Champions League-level facilities.

Dyche, as might well be expected, remained upbeat, "I think we can do it," he said when the question of relegation was raised before citing the, admittedly quite distant, example of his first game in charge.

"It is a similar side to when we beat Arsenal, so there's evidence it can be done.”

Although not happy with the result, the former Burnley boss was largely pleased with the way his team had played.

"In the first half and it was a really good performance. Goals change games, not just the scoreline but the feel of the performance,” he said.

An indication this was not purely a public relations move, by a man with a reputation for being something of a hard man, was demonstrated by the fact the coach had left the players to it rather than locking the dressing room for a shouting match post-game.

“A couple of the players were talking, I wasn’t in there very long […] they shared a couple of thoughts about the performance and what should change,” Dyche added.

“I could just hear them from my room so I left them to it and then I went in and summarised some of the stuff I heard.”

To be fair to Dyche the exodus of fans probably has less to do with him and more about the fundamental concerns supporters have expressed for years.

This season’s struggles are not the occasional dip in an otherwise upwards trajectory, they form part of a pattern that stretches over three decades.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 03: Everton supporters [+][-]
protest against their ownership ahead of the Premier League match between Everton FC and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park on April 03, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Perhaps more than any other group of supporters in the country, since the inception of the Premier League in 1992, Everton supporters have been promised by players, managers and owners they will soon be challengers at the top of the division.

But time after time what has tended to follow is a relegation battle and a squad rebuild.

Even the emergence of wealthy new owners at the helm of the club and significant investment in talent has failed to break this cycle.

Having their hopes for a better future dashed repeatedly has resulted in an overwhelming amount of resentment from the fanbase towards the owners.

It is they, after all, who are responsible for the long-term strategy.

This season’s struggles have meant home games at Goodison Park are regularly punctuated by supporter protests and the display of banners calling for the board to resign.

This discontent spilled into something more sinister at the turn of the new year when the club said "threatening correspondence” sent to chairman Bill Kenwright and the board of directors stopped the club’s leadership from attending the game against Southampton and has prevented them going to any of the subsequent fixtures.

The unacceptable actions of a few bad actors have not stopped the overwhelming majority of peaceful fan protesters from airing their views and, despite the board not having a visible presence, calls for the removal of owner Farhad Moshiri and the board of directors have continued.

Kenwright, who has been chairman since 2004, remains a lightning rod for criticism, but the chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, chief financial officer Grant Ingles and former Toffees striker Graeme Sharp are also regularly blamed for Everton’s failures.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Bill Kenwright the [+][-]
chairman of Everton reacts during the Premier League match between Everton and Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on May 19, 2022 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Last week [April 21, 2023], Kenwright made the bold decision to address supporters' complaints, in an open letter published on the club’s website in which he hit back at some of the perceived misconceptions.

“For what you believe to be the best interests of the club you are committed to the removal of this Board. As you’ve shown,” he wrote

“Have you ever pondered whether your manager and players would agree with that? Whether [former manager] Frank [Lampard] would have rubbed his hands with glee last year at the thought, rather than rushing to the directors’ box to acknowledge where his biggest support had come from?

“And what about other clubs around us? Are they thinking ‘the Everton Board has gone… it’s going to be easier for us now!!!?’ I’m confident of the answer to each of those questions.”

In addition to rejecting the idea wholesale change would be beneficial, the long-time chairman was keen to highlight the challenges CEO Barrett-Baxendale faces.

“The truth is she has to be to deal with what every other Premier League club copes within a hugely competitive environment in addition to the problems that the world has thrown at us over the last three years and, closer to home, in the last year or so.

“You may think it is not a massive challenge to relentlessly push forward the new stadium currently taking shape on the waterfront. I promise you it is! Financiers amongst your group will tell you why.”

It’s fair to say the letter has not been well received by the fanbase, particularly after another bruising defeat.

Independent supporter group, the Everton Fan Advisory Board, attacked Kenwright’s statement and suggested it had deepened the divide with supporters.

"We were therefore hugely disappointed at the chairman's statement last Friday,” it said

"At a critical time for our club, when we most needed leadership, understanding, accountability and a recognition of the strength of feeling and concern across large parts of our fanbase, we got the absolute opposite.

"After careful consideration, we are therefore making a call of no confidence in the current chair.”

Whilst there is credence to Kenwright’s point that firing the entire management team with a fraction of the season might achieve little it's hard not to sympathise with the Everton fans.

They deserve to have something to believe in.

CorrectionsReprints & Permissions