Five months have passed since we last welcomed Crystal Palace to Goodison Park on a night none of us will ever forget.
Much has changed here, even in that short time span. But one ever-present has been the passion and support of Evertonians.
The quality and quantity of that support has been unflinching - and I know it is enormously appreciated by Frank, his staff and our players.
What has also remained steadfast is our support for the Rainbow Laces campaign. Having been the first Premier League team to engage with the Rainbow Laces initiative almost 10 years ago, our commitment today – as the league embarks on two match rounds focused on solidarity in support of the campaign – is as strong as ever.
Rainbow Laces has become a symbol of inclusion in football, and we are proud to have led the way.
Our captain will proudly wear a rainbow armband today and there will be rainbow branding prominent all around the stadium.
But we do not limit our support for the campaign to the official Rainbow Laces fixtures.
Last year, alongside technical partner hummel, the Club designed and sold an LGBTQ+ themed warm-up shirt which was worn by the men’s and women’s first teams ahead of their respective fixtures. The limited-edition shirts were also sold in Everton’s shops and globally online – selling out within days!
The matchday-worn shirts were auctioned off, with all proceeds going to fund Everton in the Community (EitC) LGBTQ+ projects. EitC has been delivering LGBTQ+ inclusion programmes to community groups and in schools - with the aim of educating young people about acceptance and equality of everything from sexuality, appearance, faith and everything in between.
Each year the Club and its employees celebrate Liverpool Pride and organises for staff and partners to take part in the march and the wider festival - and we are proud to have achieved the Premier League’s advanced Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard.
Equity and Inclusion is something that is culturally ingrained into all aspects of our Club – and also tangible in our vision for the future. Our equality strategy includes supporting LGBTQ+ people into sustainable employment within the Everton Family, as well as providing a ‘Transitioning at Work’ policy, to support any staff members who may be going through a transition.
It is a culture and focus that was recognised last year when we won the Kick It Out Inclusion Award at the North-West Football Awards. That is work which we will continue to develop and build on.
Preparations are continuing, meanwhile, ahead of the next big milestone in the construction of our Everton Stadium.
The giant roof trusses are being prepared on the pitch space, ahead of the first installation in the coming fortnight.
These giant steel structures can be seen in our latest stadium update, which shows the constant changes taking place at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Beneath that, the forest of scaffolding that spanned the ground floor several weeks ago has now been removed, revealing the expanse of space within.
It truly is an exciting time in the history of our Football Club and we hope to match that progress off the pitch with our performances on it – beginning with today’s encounter with Palace.