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Strong Evertonians With Strong Opinions

Robert Elstone, 1st November 2013 - 16:56

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Robert Elstone

Robert Elstone

Posts: 38

Robert is Everton's Chief Executive.

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I've talked on many occasions about our four priority areas - a simple strategy that's improving the Club on a day-to-day basis. One of those four areas we call ‘Ownership and Participation' and reading straight from the brochure, that team's objective is to build long term loyalty by listening, sharing and providing fans with a sense of ownership.

Quite simply, we aspire to being the best at listening, responding and working with our fans, and one of the key components of that strategy is our Fans' Forum. As we look to recruit new members, I'd like to share my thoughts on what the Forum is all about.

Summarising what we want to get out of the Forum, it's to talk on a regular basis with a representative group of Evertonians who will be i) asked to test policies and ideas, ii) offered the chance to work with the Club on certain projects, iii) encouraged to present the Club with feedback, insight and its own ideas, and iv) tasked with being a ‘gateway', in and out, of the Club's fan base, helping us to communicate. It sounds like an exciting proposition.

Key to us is the group needing to be representative and give us different views on a wide range of issues. Different stakeholder groups, with different opinions, different demographic and geographic backgrounds, and different relationships with the Club should all be represented on the Forum.

Equally important is for Forum members to be positive and constructive and be willing and want to work with us. And with that spirit in place, we will ensure a ‘free' agenda and the ability to scrutinise and challenge all areas of the Club.

Whilst we're still learning and improving, that's very much how it works now. Sitting in last night's Forum, we talked about the Dixie Dean statue and our Fan Zone, ticket prices and the away fan initiative, membership schemes and seat locations. Forum members don't hold back and everything gets answered, and the Club learns.

Where we, the Club, can improve, is to ‘occupy' the agenda more fully, not to suppress criticism but to stretch and empower the Forum as a sounding board and owner of selected projects.

And the best way for us to do this, is for all areas of the Club to have dialogue with the Forum and for such dialogue to be maintained, and be effective, beyond the meeting dates. We're working on that and we're about to look around the League, and other sports for ideas and improvements.

The Club has come in for some criticism on the Forum, and never one for being shy on fronting up on issues, I'm convinced we have, and will maintain, a committed, challenging and representative group of fans, unafraid to ask tough questions and doing a great job helping the Club become the best at listening, responding and working with its fans. Secure in that knowledge, we've no intention of getting bogged down on ‘independence' or ‘selection or election'.

We don't need to. The Forum itself stands up to scrutiny - strong Evertonians with strong opinions. We won't be afraid to take on board alternative views and positive scrutiny. Forum members can be as demanding and tough as they want to be, free to ask what they want, free to be as critical as they wish. That's a spirit this Club lives up to time and time again.

If you're passionate about the Club, have something to say, want to be constructive, can make the commitment and want to help us reach the challenging aspiration I set out earlier, give it a go!

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