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Everton’s new chief executive, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, has a private observatory offering an enticing glimpse of the club’s destiny.Her office view from the seventh floor of the Royal Liver Building stretches from Liverpool’s spectacular world heritage site on the River Mersey towards Bramley Moore Dock, where Everton intend to relocate.As she glances towards the site, it would be remiss not to ask how often she visualises the £500 million arena, and dreams of hearing the Champions League anthem within it.“I don’t think that is a dream. That is the reality. I plan for it,” she insists, admitting her workspace strategically designed to watch a future construction evolve.“I just believe anything is possible with a football club like ours, but expectations have to be managed, obviously. I will not be reckless with my ideas, but why not? We need a new home. The land is available. Now we have to make it possible.“We want a flagship stadium. We want occupancy as soon as possible. The site is breath-taking, but there are complexities we are working through.“The vision and aspiration has to be there and we are in a sport that is about winning, about success. You have to lead with that." Everton’s presence in the Royal Liver Building is a symbolic first step. The executive, commercial and media teams left Goodison Park for the prime location last week and the venue already looks like home, state-of-the-art but decorated with club memorabilia and designed with reassuring touches evoking retro stadium terracing.“Our move here shows the intent we have. The ambition,” says Barrett-Baxendale.“This is accommodation you would expect for people working at a top flight, elite football club. There is a connection with the stadium so it was a courageous step we have made, but the right one.”It adds to sense of replenishment at Everton. Some was planned for years, some a necessary response to circumstances. Barrett-Baxendale was promoted the day Sam Allardyce was sacked and the subsequent arrival of Marcel Brands and Marco Silva – allied to restructuring of the squad – is part of a transformative summer.“It is an exciting time to be at the football club. A time of change in all priority areas, but a new era,” says the chief executive.“I look back over the 90 days in charge. We have a new manager, a new director of football, moving offices after 126 years, a new culture, new leadership style.“Change can be disruptive, but we can execute what we want to be. It relies on the triangular relationship between myself, Marcel and Marco wanting to be the best we can be.“Marco understands the club. From the first meeting I saw how he wants to immerse himself in the club. He has a curiosity in and a respect for the club, which is needed. Marcel is the same, recognising the importance of shared accountability. There are times it can become about the person rather than common purpose. We do not want that at Everton.“We are clear about who we are, where we are and are ambition. That is reflected at the training ground, too.”There also has to be realism. Everton finished eighth last season. If Silva eclipses that in his debut campaign it would seem an overachievement given the scale of squad reshaping that continued into transfer deadline day. Everton had two managers in 15 years prior to Roberto Martinez’s appointment in 2013. They have had five in the five since. Barrett-Baxendale is eager to re-establish the club’s former reputation.“We do not want the instability of the last 18 months. Traditionally we have long-serving managers,” she says.“Clearly Marcel and Marco want to achieve as much success as they can in their first season, but we also appreciate we are building this team, the leadership team and squad.“Patience is something you do not see much of in football. You need time to build and that construction period is important. We want the highest league position we can get. We want fast-paced, attractive football - creating chances. I also think Everton are associated with grit - real grit and determination to get results. “It is about driving success on the pitch but doing so in a specific way.“There is a common purpose between myself, Marcel and Marco. We are different leaders at the football club, but want to be the best we can be. I am an Evertonian. My first game was a derby match in the 1970s. My hero growing up was Graeme Sharp. I want know my club is being managed well. I want it to be competitive. I want to be proud. I want it to be clear about what it is and where it wants to be.“As a custodian of the club, you have to understand the responsibility – and also appreciate and commit to what we want off the pitch.“We have a bond with our community and have to assist in helping social issuesEverton’s community work, led by Barrett-Baxendale when she joined the club in 2010, has brought international acclaim and makes her recent elevation no surprise. She was recognised for her contribution with an MBE in 2014. Although she does not especially wish to be perceived as a standard bearer for female football executives (“I just think of myself as a leader in football. That’s the only consideration,” she says.), being regarded a figurehead for Premier League fan engagement is another matter. As chief executive Barrett-Baxendale has already moved to expand the club’s social responsibilities, launching a campaign to build a dedicated mental health facility – the People’s Place – at Goodison Park.“Every football club has a responsibility to reach out to their community. It is crucial,” she says.“We have fans who spend every penny of their disposable income supporting our club. They build their life around us. It is not just some form of entertainment like going to the theatre.“How many CEOs in other industries will receive a letter requesting the ashes of a loved one are scattered at their premises? I would say never. For me, it is every week. That defines what this club means to people. You have to understand what fans face in their lives and through the club we can influence people in ways medical, legal or education practitioners cannot.“We can engage so why would we not want to help a homeless group, or those suffering with dementia, or embrace education programmes? “All football clubs should know what they can give back. Sadly, some football clubs do not have the courage to tackle social issues that do not align with the sport.“We have to attend to mental health as much as physical health and break the stigma. It is a major campaign for us this year.”These community ventures – Goodison legacy projects - will ensure when the team follows other departments to the dockside, the soul of the club remains at its current site.“Everton will never leave Liverpool 4,” says Barrett-Baxendale.That said, the club hope to take another significant stride towards a new home in the coming months. A stadium development director is about to be named, and planning application being prepared.“There is a lot of work to do. I have a view on how the club should be led,” says the chief executive.“I live and work in this city. I understand the symbolism of the club and what it means to the people. I will treasure this role. "The chairman [Bill Kenwright] and I love the club, but we understand that has to be used to make good decisions.”
So much for her quitting 🙄
She talks the talk.......Does she walk the walk?
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