I have to admit, I’ve not really understood the relevance of the fans forum over the last few years, so it was an opportunity to see how they worked and what they did.
A number of other independent Everton websites and publications were invited, but it was just us and Graham Ennis from the excellent When Skies are Grey fanzine who took up the invite.
We were met in the Brian Labone lounge by forum chair Nick Mernock, and Mo Maghazachi from Everton, who introduced us to Pat Van den Hauwe and Lee Johnson from Everton in the Community.
Pat is working with Lee at Everton’s charity, and is helping coach the local homeless football teams as well as hoping to become a mentor for the scheme. Lee has benefited from Everton in the Community, and is living proof that the work they do can help turn people’s lives around. He spoke passionately about how his life has changed since a chance encounter with a member of EitC staff, and now plays a leading role in the work they do.
After a lengthy Q&A session with the pair, we sat down with members of the Everton Fans Forum and spoke about their work.
In the past, accusations of the Forum have included a “cherry picking” process to select members to a body that was essentially a front for the club to appease other fans who said they don’t listen. An accusation the current members emphatically deny – the Electoral Reform Society conducted the ballot for new members last year, while other members entering their third year on the forum (each member serves a three year term once elected) stated that they were nervous coming to their first meeting as they “didn’t know anybody.”
We discussed the now infamous badge selection which saw Evertonians rally unison against the changing of the club’s crest, and although none of the current Forum members were involved in the forum at the time, they knew the problems that were faced.
After the meeting, the Forum announced on their Twitter account (@EFC_FansForum) that following discussions with the club, one of their future projects was to deliver a statue of The Holy Trinity at Goodison Park.
Following Howard Kendall’s untimely passing last weekend, this notion has been a pressing concern for many Evertonians, and one that I strongly support. It was refreshing to learn that this was something that the Forum had been working on for months.
The Forum had also pressed for the ticketing policy for the Capital One Cup games. On Tuesday next week, Evertonian season ticket holders will pay £15 to watch their side play against Premier League opposition at Goodison Park, and there is a commitment from the club to continue that pricing structure into the later stages of the competition if Roberto Martinez can guide his men through. There are currently campaigns from the Football Supporters Federation to reduce ticket prices en masse, using the “Twenty is Plenty” slogan. Everton’s Fans Forum have ensured the Blues go further than that and reduced the cost by another fiver for season ticket holders.
A Fans’ Forum is a long way from having a supporter on the Everton board and attending board meetings, but it is something that helps give Evertonians a voice at the club, although members admitted that there are times when the initiatives they suggest don’t always come to fruition. Everyone at the meeting last night clearly enjoyed what they did with the Forum, and from hearing Mo speak, there is a clear appetite at the club for more involvement.
If you want to be a part of the Forum, then the selection process for the next batch of members is under way, and you can apply on the club’s website by clicking here.
I’d like to thank Nick and the other members of the forum for inviting us in to see how they work, and for their efforts in the work that they put in, purely on a voluntary basis. It was an entertaining and insightful few hours, and it’s always good to sit down and have a gab with a load of Evertonians!
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