Death threats to President Bill Kenwright and the recent physical assault by CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale forced Everton to take the unprecedented step of ordering all board members not to attend their game against Southampton.
Tensions are high among the fan base as the club faces a second consecutive relegation challenge. taking action by club directors to protect their members.
The PA news agency learned that Kenwright had received death threats via email this week, with Barrett-Baxendale being caught and strangled by a fan as he was leaving the directors’ booth after a recent match.
Towards the end of the week, when we lost to Brighton, two police officers were placed in the principals’ cabin to prevent further incidents, as the slogans ‘Loot the board’ were raised on the floor.
After the match, it was revealed that Barrett-Baxendale was spat on, subjected to sexist and misogynistic abuse, and her car was targeted by fans as she drove off the ground.
As a result, Kenwright, Barrett-Baxendale, chief financial and strategy officer Grant Ingles, and non-executive director Graeme Sharp will “reluctantly” stay away on the advice of their security advisors.
“Members of the board of directors took the order following the abusive and unacceptablely threatening correspondence received by the club and increased instances of anti-social behavior (including targeted physical aggression) in recent home games,” the club said in a statement.
“This is an unprecedented decision for Everton Football Club – our entire board of directors had not previously been ordered not to attend a game for safety reasons. It is an extremely sad day for Everton and the Evertons.”
The group NSNOW, which organized the protest, supported by more than 67 fan and social media groups and 21 official fan clubs, condemned the threats.
The statement read: “Everyone involved in our campaign, and indeed every reasonable Everton, strongly and utterly condemns any and all threats to any Everton employee and/or club’s officers and directors.”
The group is protesting what they claim is failure and a lack of board-level leadership.
Owner Farhad Moshiri insisted in an open letter this week that his and the club’s ambitions are in line with fans, but stressed that coach Frank Lampard and the club’s board remain in full faith.
“We all agree that our current league position needs and will improve,” he said.
“Myself, the club and the fans are focused on a better Everton and I am confident we can move forward constructively and positively.
“I welcome the Fan Advisory Board’s plans to host a series of sessions with fans to gather feedback, thoughts and concerns, of which the Forum is also a part.”