Club Secretary and Director of Football Operations, David Harrison, discusses the many elements of his role and Everton’s progress this season.
David, your role as Club Secretary and Director of Football Operations is varied and involves working with many departments across Everton. Could you explain your day-to-day duties? My role is to oversee all aspects of first-team football operations at the Club, from liaising with the Premier League over fixtures, planning the logistics for away games and pre-season tours, to arranging new contracts and being part of the transfer process when we sign new players. What I enjoy most about my job is that I rarely get two days which are the same. Whether that’s working with a first-team player, our manager Marco Silva or a participant from Everton in the Community, it’s the variety which makes my role so special working for this great football club.
You’re involved in the signing and selling of players. Explain your role in the transfer window and how you work within the overall football structure in making deals happen. In most cases, 90 per cent of the transfer is already in place by the time it is passed to me. Marcel and the Board keep me well informed of deals and progression with players’ contracts so that we’re ready to sign the paperwork as soon as we have a completed deal in place. A lot of it is a paper-based role, a lot of it is a people role and a lot is communication, whether that’s between player and agent, the club we’re dealing with, or with our internal departments. It’s trying to pull all the facets within the Club together at the same time to make a transfer happen.
You spent last summer’s transfer deadline day in Barcelona in what was a frenetic day when we signed Yerry Mina and brought in Andre Gomes on loan. What was it like to be part of that? It became obvious about 48 hours before the deadline that we were going to have to conclude both of those deals in Barcelona. The logistics of medicals and getting players into various locations wasn’t going to work and the easiest way to deal with it was to go to Spain. Barcelona as a club were very accommodating and gave us access for medicals at local hospitals which they use. We had a late night the day before trying to get as much lined up as possible to help us. Deadline day itself was an early start - we had medicals, agent meetings and paperwork to arrange. At one point I had to run a mile in my suit, in 25-degree heat in Barcelona, to see a lawyer who was creating a delay to the process. It was hectic but worth it in the end!
How closely do you work with Manager Marco Silva and Director of Football Marcel Brands in their respective roles? If something major comes up – whether that’s in relation to a player or for the Club to fulfil a commitment – then I will communicate with Marco and Marcel to see how best to proceed. Marco likes to have a consistent plan for the first team each week. Depending on where we are playing games, we know when there will be a rest day and what time players will report for training at USM Finch Farm which means that part of the operation is usually seamless. It’s been a pleasure working with both Marco and his coaching team and Marcel since they joined the Club last summer.
What qualities has Marcel brought to Everton Football Club? Experience and a real ‘one club’ view. It’s not just about the first team, there’s the Academy, the Ladies' team, the wider Club, the community – Marcel has embraced it all. He very much sees everyone at Everton as all together. That’s been really helpful and has enabled us to develop relationships with other areas of the Club. That’s been beneficial and productive for everyone.
How would you describe the culture that Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale has instilled in the Club since becoming Everton CEO? Very similar to Marcel with the ‘one club’ vision. Denise’s work with Everton in the Community is well known and she made a huge impact during her time as the charity’s CEO to help change so many lives. It is fair to say that EitC is the shining example to other football clubs on the power of the badge and what you can achieve with your community work. Denise has truly embraced the football side of the Club since becoming CEO last summer. She is a proud Evertonian who understands the values and ethos of the Club, while striving to move us forward. Denise has a really close working relationship with Marcel which I’ve had the pleasure of sharing with her for many years. If we need support, we know we have an open door to her.
Denise created the Everton Leadership team which is responsible for the day-to-day operations across the Club and supporting the Board of Directors. As part of that team, how beneficial has it been to have a focussed group of leaders for each department? It’s been hugely positive. It’s a good chance for us to meet face-to-face at least once a month and Denise has created a culture that enables us to share information openly. Having that information is crucial to the decision-making process across the Club. A small example is a fixture change which affects many parts of a football club these days, from events already booked in at the stadium, food orders, fans’ travel and accommodation. That one piece of information can have a massive impact across the business. The Everton Leadership Team is an experienced and committed group of staff to make sure we deliver on the Club standard of ‘nothing but the best is good enough’.
Finally, David, how exciting is it to be involved with Everton at this time? I have worked at the Club for more than 20 years and would echo Denise’s comments of what a privilege it is to be in a position to help drive Everton forward to underline our ambitions for the future. We continue to progress with our plans for a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock and, on the pitch, we all strive to finish as high as possible in the league. As important as that is, I think people can see our footballing philosophy has changed over the course of this season and that’s a work in progress. It takes time to build a team, a culture, and there’s certainly been a change at the Football Club since Marco and Marcel came on board. We’ve all seen, particularly in recent weeks, that when it clicks and comes together, it is a great experience for us all. We have foundations in place to help Everton progress as we strive to achieve our ambitions both on and off the pitch.