Everton Chief Executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale is “one of the most important people in football”.
That is the view of Henry Winter, chief football writer at The Times. Winter was invited to Everton in the Community’s [EitC] uplifting showcase at USM Finch Farm last week, when every first-team player, along with manager Marco Silva and his staff, signed a pledge board to commit their support to the charity.
Professor Barrett Baxendale was EitC’s Executive Chair and has been integral to its ongoing growth and success after being appointed to develop and lead a transformation of the charity's strategy in January 2010, before becoming the Club's CEO in the summer.
“A football club is so much more than the 11 players on the pitch,” Winter told evertontv.
“Without its community and fans, it is just a building and 11 players.
“I am lucky to see all the clubs in the Premier League and around the world and what I love and respect about Everton is the Club’s roots are in its community.
“I talk to people in Whitehall and politicians – and Everton reaches parts of the community which politicians cannot.
"Denise is one of the most important people in football and has shaped this [family] culture, backed by Bill Kenwright and everybody in the Club.
“This is a club that gets it… it changes people’s lives.”
Professor Barrett-Baxendale is a prime mover in Everton’s mission to create a legacy around Goodison Park in the shape of the Goodison Campus, which expanded its footprint on the community with the official opening of the Blue Base in September.
EitC is celebrating its 30th anniversary and delivers more than 40 programmes aimed at tackling a broad spectrum of social issues.
In August, the Club and its official charity launched a campaign to raise funds to build a permanent mental health facility on Spellow Lane – 500 metres from Goodison.
"I think she is a remarkable individual," said Winter. "I interviewed her in her office – and it was probably the tidiest office I have been in.
“Maybe that is the meticulous, perfectionist approach she has.
"She has energy and vision and a social conscience. She is incredibly proud of Everton and understands how the Club can change lives – and she wants to do that."