Everton Shareholders’ Association – History

As with so many things, Everton Football Club is believed to be the first to have its own Shareholders’ Association. Whilst the club itself was founded in 1878, the Shareholders’ Association was founded some 60 years later, in 1938. It was formed under the auspices of Mr Richard Edward “Dick” Searle, who was later to become a director of the club.

One of the original intentions of the association was that it should act as a form of watch dog over important matters concerning the club, and it was responsible for supervision of share dealings in Everton FC. At all times it was to act in the interests of the club and the club shareholders.

In spite of the many changes that the club has undergone in the associations 65 year history, this description still carries weight today. The Association gets involved in club affairs when it feels it is in its members’ interests to do so.

To this end, the Association also maintains close ties with the board and administration of the football club. Indeed in the years since Mr Searle joined the board of Everton FC, several more members of the Association have also gone on to become directors.

However, the Association remains independent. In recent years, we have been instrumental in calling two Extraordinary General Meetings at Everton. The first occasion was during Peter Johnson’s period of control in the late 1990’s. At that time, the Shareholders were particularly concerned about the financial position of the club as well as continued poor performances on the pitch which had resulted in finishing several seasons narrowly above the relegation zone.

By the summer of 2004, with Bill Kenwright at the helm of the Club, there unfortunately appeared to be little or no improvement on the administration side of the club. In addition, after an excellent first season under David Moyes where the team finished in 7th position, the 2003/2004 season saw us finish 17th with the lowest points total in the club’s history.

Many people felt the board had failed to support their manager and had not built on the previous season’s success by investing in the team. Professor Tom Cannon, a long-standing member of the Association, addressed the Association AGM asking for our support in calling for a second Extraordinary General Meeting in less than a decade. Professor Cannon’s petition specifically called on the board to put in place short, medium and long term plans to enhance the commercial side of the club so that Everton would always have the funds available to support the team.

Professor Cannon’s proposal was adopted by an overwhelming majority of the Association members present. Within weeks, the Association delivered an official EGM petition to the club signed by more than 300 members and other shareholders. Various reports of the evening can be found on the internet, including here, here and here.

These efforts on behalf of our members, and of shareholders in general, show that when united, Evertonians can have a say in the running of their club. As Evertonians first and shareholders second, the Association will continue efforts to unite that voice and to uphold the traditions of both the Association and of Everton Football Club.