Everton owner Farhad Moshiri insists he retains faith in manager Frank Lampard and the board of directors as he seeks to quell rising tensions among supporters.
The Toffees’ Fans’ Forum wrote an open letter to Moshiri on Friday asking him to address some of their concerns about the club.
A group of supporters also have a sit-in protest planned for after Saturday’s must-win match at home to fellow strugglers Southampton, at which they will call for the owner to make sweeping changes at boardroom level.
With the club staring at a second successive relegation battle and the prospect of little to cheer in the transfer window at a club fighting financial pressures, Moshiri has moved to answer some of the criticism.
“I have faith in the work being done not only by our manager, but our director of football (Kevin Thelwell) and our board of directors,” he wrote in response.
“That faith is based on my knowledge of the depth and quality of work being done both at Finch Farm and the Royal Liver Building – and of the plan that is in place.
“I am confident that we have skilled, experienced and focused professionals at all levels of the club.
“We are all agreed that our current league position must and will improve.
“The focus of myself, the club and the fans is aligned – a better Everton – and I am confident we can move forward in a constructive and positive manner.
“I welcome the plans for the Fan Advisory Board to host a series of sessions with fans to gather feedback, thoughts and concerns – of which the Forum is a part.”
Fan protest gathering pace
The letter will, however, do little to de-escalate tensions among the fanbase, with the Fans’ Forum responding “Our current situation is unacceptable. It’s time for a better Everton”.
The NSNOW (a name taken from the club’s motto Nil Satis Nisi Optimum) group, who have organised Saturday’s protest, want Moshiri to “make the changes necessary to rescue Everton”.
More than 67 fan and social media groups, plus 21 official supporter clubs, have combined to back the protest, which had originally been planned for next month’s match with Arsenal only for a chastening home defeat to Brighton to accelerate their plans.
“Since the Brighton home defeat there has been a widespread realisation and agreement that it is only Everton fans, as true custodians of the club, who can force Farhad Moshiri to make the changes necessary to rescue Everton,” said a statement.
“We will continue to provide the team and manager with the backing Evertonians are renowned for.
“However, we can no longer tolerate the failure of the club’s owner Farhad Moshiri to address the glaring leadership deficiencies at the chair, board and executive levels.
“Doing nothing is no longer a viable strategy for Farhad Moshiri and Everton.”
Such hopes appear forlorn, however, as Moshiri has resisted previous protests aimed at forcing his hand and, in any case, the club’s Articles of Association do not allow for the immediate, wholesale ‘sacking’ of the board which, and even if there was a willingness to carry it out, would take several months.
Moshiri is approaching the seven-year anniversary of him taking control at Goodison Park and during that time there have been nine changes at board level, although the key figures the protestors are targeting, chairman Bill Kenwright and chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale, have remained.
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