250 of Everton's most loyal fans enjoyed an entertaining and informative question and answer session with Chief Executive Robert Elstone at the Club's 2012 Fans' Conference.
During the evening with supporters who have been Season Ticket holders for at least 10 seasons, Everton's Chief Executive identified the Club's strategy that is driving the business forward - describing the stadium issue and investment as game changers which he emphasised were top of the Board's agenda.
Work is continuing on both fronts with regular meetings with Liverpool City Council - exploring sites and opportunities; and regular discussions with advisers, intermediaries and potential investors.
Mr Elstone said the stadium situation requires 'entrepreneurial spirit and vision' and stressed that it is up to the Club and the Council to demonstrate this. Everton has invested considerable time into developing a stadium vision - defining the scale, features, configuration and capacity of the optimum stadium. He said the support of local and regional stakeholders was required to bring it to life and the Council would be required to play a pivotal role.
He confirmed the stadium future was important for investment opportunities and reiterated the hard work going into this. Despite some setbacks, he remains positive and hopeful of finding the investor everybody desires.
Reduced attendances last season, together with a frustrating and baffling low number of live TV selections, would see Everton post disappointing financial results this Autumn. However, despite this, Mr Elstone assured the conference that debt levels remain stable and the Club has managed a tough year well. He noted the widespread recognition of the current squad of players being the strongest in a generation.
Answering a question from one supporter on how is debt being managed and what will the new TV deal mean for the Club, Mr Elstone explained there is a real desire amongst all Barclays Premier League clubs to avoid what has happened with all previous TV deal increases, when the revenue went straight into the pockets of players and their agents.
In Everton's case, he believed the best way to service the debt was to remain competitive with assets on the field, securing the best possible finishes at the top end of the table. All clubs will have a choice on new money, players and transfer fees, facilities and academies, or perhaps paying down debts and he believes what our rivals do will have a major bearing on us.
Mr Elstone said the Club's ambition is best highlighted by the 86p in the £1 that funds Finch Farm, leaving just 14p in the £1 to run the rest of the club. An example of the current financial structure Everton works under is the need for renovation and upkeep of Goodison. £300,000 was spent this summer on refurbishing many of the toilet and associated facilities in the stadium but he recognised it was a tiny fraction of what was required because the priority is to support Finch Farm.
When asked how Everton continually outperform so many other Clubs, he said it was primarily because of the success in developing, recruiting, retaining, training and signing players. The great relationship between between the Chairman and Manager was also cited. Mr Elstone ended the evening by praising the stability enjoyed in the Club which was underpinned by a great work ethic which flows from the Chairman's office throughout the football club.
He expressed one of the club's key objectives is to listen to fans and seek their opinions on matters affecting the Club. Feedback from those attending suggested those objectives had been met.