When Joe O’Reilly and I first got elected as the first international representatives of the Fans’ Forum, we were clear that our main priority was to give supporters like ourselves living outside the UK a voice on all things Everton.
Both Joe, who’s chaired the Irish Toffees for years and travels to every home game from Dublin, and I, as a scouse Blue now based in Chicago had some experience of what it’s like to follow our team from overseas. And whilst the love of our Club is the thing that unites Evertonians wherever they are, being a Blue abroad brings with it a different experience, perspective and range of challenges.
That’s why at the end of April, we launched a three-week consultation with overseas Evertonians; to get direct feedback about the issues that matter most, provide a focal point to feed in their opinions and better understand how they want to be involved and kept informed on key Club and fan developments.
Our initial research told us that there are more than 100 supporters groups either with an online presence or official affiliation – and that number is growing. So, it came as no surprise to us that nearly 500 Evertonians chose to respond to the survey representing Blues from 27 different countries across the globe. The overwhelming message we heard was that it doesn’t matter where Evertonians are in the world, whether it is Tuebrook or Timbuktu, they want to have a say about their Club, in fact 90% said this is “important to them”.
The survey also told us about the areas where overseas Blues wanted to see a greater focus. These included providing continued and even greater support for Supporters Clubs to drive engagement and host local events, building greater visibility of the Everton brand in their international market, exploring opportunities to better connect overseas supporters and continued access to tickets for oversees Blues visiting Goodison Park.
We know that the Club’s Fan Engagement Team, working with the Fans’ Forum and directly with Supporters Clubs, was already taking some positive steps in addressing some of these issues with its affiliation and membership programmes, engagement and communication, and broadening the Blue Family campaign to reach international supporters. To build on this, we’ve now shared the findings of the survey with the Club and made a series of recommendations that we hope can inform and further inspire the plans the Club has been developing as well as provide some additional insight in enhancing engagement even further.
We’ll be working closely with the Fan Engagement Team over the coming weeks and months and have committed to keeping the international fanbase updated on progress. We know this is going to be important as over 89% told us that regular updates help in maintaining a link and connection.
Joe and I strongly believe that Evertonians around the world should have a voice. Alongside the Club’s Fan Engagement team, our role as Forum members is to understand what matters most, make sure we’re listening and bringing their thoughts and opinions to the Club. The survey has given us some really good insights and ideas and we’re looking forward to working with supporters groups, individuals and the Club to bring oversees Blues closer to ‘their Everton’.
Any supporters in Europe who want more information about the survey or share their ideas with the Fans’ Forum can contact Joe O’Reilly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or for Evertonians living in North America or anywhere else in the world, Tony Sampson at email@example.com
The Club’s Fan Engagement Team can be contacted directly at firstname.lastname@example.org