Everton chief executive Robert Elstone addressed some of the major talking point for Blues during intriguing night
Roberto Martinez, as has become the trend, was present at the club’s general meeting and wielded his customary charm to powerful effect.
Martinez took the spotlight to insist that he currently has a perfectly balanced squad. Certainly not too old, and not too young as to be a problem.
The average age of a Premier League starting XI is 28.8, he explained. Apparently you don’t want to be either of the extremes in terms of age, and Everton have the sixth youngest average starting line-up in the top-flight at 26.3 years old.
The wisdom of age and the energy of youth - as we saw with the displays of Gareth Barry; then John Stones, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku on Saturday against Aston Villa.
It continues to prove an intoxicating blend.
On an evening when Everton responded to a series of questions from their shareholders, there were some they declined to answer.
“They are disappointing questions ,” said chief executive Robert Elstone on the Philharmonic stage.
Then he went further: “They are disgraceful questions. To paraphrase they are asking if we are doing anything illegal or have our hands in the till. To be asked that series of questions is so disrespectful in the extreme.
Robert Elstone speaking at the Everton FC AGM at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
“Those questions were wrong and shouldn’t be asked. To repeatedly be asked about where we lend from and where Philip Green (retail magnate) is in all this is just wrong.”
The club’s shareholders association had provided a list of 41 queries in advance of the meeting.
It’s chairman tweeted this in reply: ‘The CEO says that some of the questions from Shareholders were disappointing .... we’re disappointed that he thinks that.’
No flies on us.
Despite his irritation at some of the questions, Elstone did go into detail about who Everton lends money from.
“Prudential, Barclays and JG Funding,” he said. Then for emphasis - “There is NO other lending.”
Next, pointedly, he alluded to one of those questions that had disappointed him and the other board members so deeply.
Barclays are one of three lenders used by the Blues
Presumably it was this: ‘Could the CEO confirm that none of the Directors have directly or indirectly benefited financially in any way from any financial dealings between the club and any third party?’
His reply was unequivocal. “JG funding is a private limited business that does a lot of funding with other clubs. There is no connection with that company and any directors of Everton football club.”
Then another issue.
Everton FC manager at the club's press conference ahead of this season's home game against Manchester City. It was the last time Power8 branding appeared at a club event.
In August the Blues had to terminate a sponsorship deal with Spanish tech firm Power8, a company which is facing questions about how it operates in the light of similar agreements with Espanyol and Fulham.
The Blues had been strident in their checking process before signing the deal ("The national crime agency gave them a clean bill of health," said Elstone) but the agreement has since been terminated.
Everton’s long-standing, (sometimes it feels interminable), search for investment or new owners capable of taking the club to the next level goes on.
“There has never been more people out there looking.” said Elstone of potential investors.
But then ‘The But’.
He repeated a familiar reminder that Premier League takeovers, nevermind ones which prove to be successful, are rare. In fact there hasn’t been one in the last three seasons, he added.
Strictly speaking the Blues CEO is right.
However American investment in AFC Bournemouth, after a Chicago-based private equity firm bought a 25% stake in the Premier League newcomers earlier this month, and ongoing signs that US businessman Josh Harris is on the verge of buying a sizeable stake in Crystal Palace, suggests there are board rooms where deals are happening.
Bill Kenwright has not yet found the right people to succeed him
Maybe it comes down to what the Toffees board consider as the right people.
Elstone was quick to maintain that the ‘be careful what you wish for’ mentality should not be misconstrued as Everton not actively searching.
But they won’t sell a stake, or all of the club, without being convinced it’s the right deal.
Community work remains so precious.
Two short films; both searing in their honesty and poignancy, drilled home what a wonderful thing the club’s charitable Everton In The Community arm truly is.
Everton's Muhamed Besic during the Everton in the Community event at the Goals Soccer Centre
EITC wins more awards than you can count at times. It’s an annual procession .
And yes, while that doesn’t do anything to help the club move forward on the pitch, it’s still something to make Evertonians hugely proud.
Phil Jagielka chats with team members from Everton in the Community Imagine Your Goals session at Clock View Hospital
Their work with dementia suffers and reformed drug users in North Liverpool was shown vividly in those clips, and it emphasised just what a difference the club makes to the lives of the people who live and breathe in and around Goodison and beyond.