'Here was Farhad Moshiri in the flesh and he didn't disappoint'
Everton correspondent Phil Kirkbride reflects on a promising appearance by Blues majority investor
With one line Farhad Moshiri nodded to Everton's gloried past but then beckoned them towards a brighter future.
The Blues' majority shareholder had last night's audience at the club's General Meeting hanging on his every word but there was a particular phrase that stuck with everybody.
“We are a great club and we don’t want to be a museum," he said.
It struck a chord, sparking a round of applause from shareholders, the first of two Moshiri would receive last night, which is some going at an event such as this, but illustrative of the impressive way in which he spoke.
Evertonians have heard from him before, albeit over the radio waves or in short statements, but here he was, in the flesh, in touching distance, in front of supporters, the man who holds the key to making Everton great again.
And there was an undeniable sense that everyone inside the Philharmonic Hall, even those who know him, were hanging off his every word.
We're told Moshiri is not one for public speaking but he talked with ambition, with blunt reality but relaxed passion and humour.
There was even some Koeman-like straight-to-the-point stuff as well.
It was note perfect.
“It has far exceeded my expectations,” he said, when asked about his Everton experience so far.
“Everything about it, the train journeys and meeting the fans, they’re really special fans.
“They kept on buying beer for me and I said: ‘I don’t drink beer’. Six or seven pints of beer..."
Moshiri could now add a laugh to the applause he'd already received.
“The day I went to Bill’s office was a very special day," he said.
“I had looked at a number of clubs and I’d been at Arsenal for a very long time as a minority shareholder and I just wanted to be involved in a club.
“Meeting Bill, and especially in his office, was what had the greatest impression on me. That was a real man, totally obsessed in whatever he’s doing. I saw all the photographs of the musicals, the movie productions and the great moments of Everton.
“His enthusiasm for Everton was infectious, we started talking about the club, and I’m an accountant, and I said: ‘Bill, look at the debts!’.
“‘No these are assets’ he said. ‘These are not debts’.
“You couldn’t find anything negative, his heart was Everton and I just found him a guy very much in my own mould in driven and committed to what he liked.
“He talked about the history, values and heritage of Everton. We kept on meeting each other and we became friends, he met my family, we got to know each other and, after a while, there was no real other option - it was Everton."
Moshiri made no secret of the fact that, for him, the Holy Grail is the Premier League and returning Everton to the "elite" - more so than winning the FA Cup.
One shareholder took him to task on it in a question and answer session.
“We need to be competitive and, for me, the gold standard for me is Premier League position, not FA Cup," he said.
“I love the FA Cup but I think we need to do well in the league, that’s where Everton’s competitive edge will be measured."
“We have a mini-league emerging this year with six clubs," Moshiri added.
“Three of the six are historically the big clubs - Arsenal, United and Liverpool.
“These are the clubs that started succeeding when the global audiences got involved.
“And then Manchester City and Chelsea bankrolled their success before Financial Fair Play came in.
“Tottenham are a mixture of good luck, people like Kane coming through, being in London with London ticket prices and a long waiting list which enables them to go to a big stadium.
“But they are not there yet.
“West Ham with the new stadium could’ve been a threat but it is not working that way, so we have a position but we don’t have all the time in the world.
“We have a window to establish ourselves and we’ll do everything we can.
“Bill, in the past 19 or 20 years through sheer dedication and ability to get things together - and the previous managers - kept the club close to the elite.
“But now we need to look at sustainability, we need a sustainable base to be among the elite. It takes time but we are committed, that’s why we are here.”
Chairman Bill Kenwright, sat next to Moshiri, is equally as enamoured with the club's majority shareholder, speaking of a man he now calls his friend and one he tried to share his love of Everton with.
“It was a long, long search in which many, many people came forward, some of them excellent,” Kenwright said.
“But I think, 18 months ago, Farhad came to meet me, who knows anything in life but instantly, I promise you, this was a man who I knew could get us out of the problem times we were having where we were having to fight for every penny, we had to plead with the bank every week.
“The one thing that struck me most was he was a nice man. The second thing was his love of football, not Everton like us, his love of football was astonishing. It seemed as though he knew more about football than anyone I’ve ever met. He actually lived for football.
“It was my job, from that moment, to make him live a little bit for Everton - thank God I did, because already from the extraordinary things he’s done, he’s also a Blue.”
“This last year for me hasn’t been easy but if I hadn’t had Farhad, it would have been much more difficult," he went onto say.
“All I can tell you about him is that he wants to sign more players than you want to sign!
“He sits there and says ‘we’ll get him, we’ll get him’ he’s really there for it, for the stadium, for Everton.”