Post by Everton News. on Dec 23, 2018 15:08:11 GMT
Sasha Ryazantsev On Everton FC's Exciting Future
Sasha, could you explain your role on the Board and, specifically, your dual roles in the areas of Finance and Commercial?
Perhaps I could start by saying it’s an absolute honour to be involved with Everton Football Club. I have been on the Board for almost three years now, but my role became much more hands on in June when I was appointed Chief Finance and Commercial Officer, and I think it makes a lot of sense to combine both areas.
Our commercial objectives are all about enhancing value, boosting revenues and ensuring that we are increasingly more competitive when measured against other clubs.
At the same time, it’s important to look at the costs and the funding, which underpins the role of the Finance team.
Combining both areas and working closely with other Board members as well as our Finance Director, Grant Ingles, and our Commercial Director, Alan McTavish, will hopefully enable us to make more cash available to football operations through increased commercial sales on the one hand and prudent financial management on the other.
The growth in commercial revenue over the past 12 months reflects the overall aspirations of the Club, on and off the pitch …
I can’t take much credit for the work that has been done to date in terms of SportPesa or Angry Birds, because there’s obviously a long lead time into any of these deals, but what I can say is that both of those partnerships sit really well within our commercial strategy.
The people at SportPesa have really bought into our core values and have been excellent in terms of engagement. I personally believe in Africa as a very important market that is hugely undervalued at the moment, with most Premier League teams looking mostly towards the North American and Asian markets to expand their fan base and grow revenue.
I’m not saying that we are not active there, too, but in Africa people’s interest in football (you are preaching to the converted there!) provides an opportunity that we would like to explore further and we very much hope we can do more than just the one partner in the region.
Angry Birds is another key partner for us, innovative and representing a new generation, connecting us to younger fans. We’re the first team to have players feature in one of their games and in a 10-episode YouTube series.
This partnership does not only provide all-important commercial revenue to the Club, but also enhances our reputation in the global market and I expect this to be the beginning of a long-term partnership.
We have many other partners, of course, not least USM, who have been behind some really important community engagements, but there’s more we can do. And while a 34 per cent growth in commercial income in 2017-18 was encouraging, we appreciate that in order to compete with the very best we ought to start pulling away from those clubs beneath us and continue to bridge the gap on those above in terms of non-broadcasting revenue share.
Our strategy is to grow the number of partners, have partners in different sectors and different parts of the world and target young people to grow our fan base for the future.
Is finance quite a boring topic to talk about?
Let’s see if we can get to the end of this and then you can make up your mind! Football finance has fascinated me for some time.
It has evolved along with the ever-increasing professionalism of football as a whole. One of the first things I did after joining the Board was to review our financial operations and set up a financial policy based on sustainability, transparency and ambition.
We now have clear targets in terms of profitability, balance sheet strength, cash flow and benchmarking against our peers.
We have received one of the largest shareholder injections in English football and it’s our responsibility as the Board to make the best use of this investment.
We are a significant business based in the North West and, as such, we should be funding ourselves in a professional and orderly manner, working with international institutions and achieving the best terms from them.
Every pound we save in the Club is a pound we can invest in either football or our new stadium.
I suppose where finance does get a bit boring is that I have to bang on about discipline all the time, especially when it comes to player trading (sorry, Marcel!).
How heavily are you involved in the new stadium project at Bramley-Moore Dock?
Keith Harris is the Board member responsible for the Club’s new stadium project, while I’m currently working on raising the necessary funds to make it a reality, which will shortly be followed by commercial efforts to make it sustainable and profitable post-construction.
In that regard, our move to Bramley-Moore Dock is absolutely crucial to us being able to compete with the Premier League elite, all of whom either have current future-proof stadia, new stadia or have plans to build them.
The team at Everton has been amazing in making huge progress on this. In just over six months, we put together an information memorandum and discussed every minute detail with a number of potential funders.
We have firmed up the likely structure of the deal. We now have a clear idea of what the long-term institutional market requires and what terms we would likely be able to achieve.
It’s still a long way to go but what’s important is that the institutions we have spoken to all view this positively. It will be a catalyst for regeneration and can stand on its own two feet. Therefore, it will be an attractive investment for a long-term, big money investor.
Your connection with the game is deep-rooted …
Very much so. I grew up in a footballing family. We used to have a house next to the training ground of the team that my father played for, Dynamo Moscow.
From an early age, I used to spend a lot of time at the training ground and played at right-back for Dynamo Moscow up until Under-16 level.
I used to regret saying, ‘No’, to the offer to join the Under-18s, but it may have been the best decision ever.
Instead I went to university and ended up in the City in London in the early 2000s.
You must be excited then by what is currently being built on the pitch?
I’m excited by Marcel and Marco and what they’re doing to shape the team.
Both of them bring a huge amount of expertise to Everton. Our ambition is to compete in the higher echelons and to do this on a sustained basis.
The only way to be a sustainable club is to be disciplined with signings and to build on homegrown players while introducing some proven players in the game.
Not outspending our rivals, but outsmarting them. If you talk about the players, what I’m seeing now is a much younger team, which is also really important.
We are much more dynamic as a result and we are trying to build a team with some of the best players in the right positions. It’s exciting for every Evertonian.