Everton's interim CEO and Chief Stadium Development Officer Colin Chong was among the Club officials who met with the Club's Fan Advisory Board (FAB) for its first gathering of the 2023/24 season.
The meeting saw new members elected or nominated to FAB positions during the summer formally introduced to the Club for the first time.
Chong confirmed the Club’s new stadium remains firmly on track and also explained that due to the confidential nature and complexities of the investment discussions Everton can make no public comment at this stage. However as soon as the Club is in a position to do so it will undertake a formal process and update supporters.
Richard Kenyon, Everton's Chief Commercial and Communications Officer, updated attendees on off-the-field progress made in recent months, including last week's confirmation of a new partnership with KICK - the highest value shirt sleeve agreement achieved by the Club to date. He discussed recently agreed deals with Ticketmaster, eToro and Destination Sport Travel and Sportsbreaks.com and confirmed further partnerships could be announced soon.
Kenyon explained the move to Ticketmaster was a positive one for the Club commercially, while crucially allowing Everton to harness Ticketmaster’s experience of supporting clubs undertaking stadium moves and expertise related to marketing non-matchday events at stadia across the world.
Having outlined in an update to supporters posted on evertonfc.com last week that, commercially, Everton has over recent years benchmarked as the ‘best of the rest’ outside of those clubs regularly competing in Europe, Kenyon shared the Club’s strategy including maximising its Principal Partner assets and increasing the number and values of the next tier of partnership deals, while working to ensure a commercial step-change is achieved through the opportunities presented by the new stadium.
Kenyon also thanked supporters for their loyalty and commitment pointing to a record Season Ticket retention rate for the coming campaign and the continued growth of the Club's Season Ticket waiting list. Both positive signs of progress as the stadium move draws nearer.
Everton's Director of Communications & Engagement Scott McLeod explained the Club is ahead of schedule in its development of a Fan Engagement Plan, which will be released in line with Premier League’s Fan Engagement Standard requirements before the end of August. FAB members were also encouraged to put forwards ideas that could be explored in 2023/24 to improve experiences for Evertonians and football supporters across the board.
Ben Osu, Everton's Senior Lead for Equity and Inclusion, was also in attendance presenting Everton's EDI plans and activities, stating that the Club is working towards retaining its Advanced level of the Premier League Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Standard later this year.
He declared there is a long-term commitment from Everton to continually review and develop its EDI strategy and framework to improve matchday experiences and, in line with its mission statement, ensure anyone visiting or engaging with the Club feels respected, celebrated and empowered.
Osu pointed to Seamus Coleman and Gabby George becoming the Premier League and WSL's first Her Game Too player advocates and the Club's ongoing dialogue with Everton Disabled Supporters' Association and Unite for Access (formerly Level Playing Field) as examples of some of the most tangible work being done in this key area, while also revealing plans to pilot autism friendly stadium tours, which, if successful, could be rolled out more widely later this season.
FAB members learned more about how the Club was one of the first in the Premier League to pay the real living wage and has since gone on to be part of the national Real Living Wage Foundation’s steering group. Osu also informed the FAB that the Club will be aiming to reaffirm its status as a Disability Confident employer.
In response to a query raised by the FAB, Kenyon explained the reasons for increased match-by-match ticket prices at Goodison which include a significant increase in matchday operating costs.
The Club also confirmed it had found a solution to a request from the FAB for supporters to be able to select Everton Women players as their favourite players on the official Everton app and that an update would be rolled out shortly. Everton confirmed it is also looking at piloting away travel for Everton Women supporters early in the WSL season, with more details to be shared nearer the time.
For a full summary of the points discussed at the latest Fan Advisory Board meeting, click here. The next quarterly meeting between the Club and the FAB will take place in November.