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Everton bosses will not be attending their side’s crucial clash against Southampton on Saturday afternoon due to a number of worrying incidents club chiefs have endured in recent times as their club’s form has worsened.
Everton Chiefs Targeted by Some Fans
Chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale is reported to have been put in a headlock outside the Goodison Park director’s box while in a different incident, reported by the Liverpool Echo newspaper, Barrett-Baxendale’s car was surrounded by fans of the club and spat at.
The club CEO is understood to have been a target of fans after Everton were defeated at home by four goals to one by Brighton & Hove Albion earlier this month.
Protests also saw parts of the club property damaged in the aftermath of that game. The dangerous behavior which some fans have partaken in has now prompted the club to instruct their board of directors to stay away from the club’s game against Premier League basement side, Southampton.
The club just about stayed afloat in the EPL last season under the reigns of Frank Lampard and look set to be facing into another dalliance with relegation this season, with just three wins in their 19 games played in the league so far this season.
The club currently sit 17th, right on the fringe of the relegation zone and many Everton fans have become hugely unhappy with the positioning of their much storied club. A sit-in protest has been planned for the side’s game against the Saints for fans to show their distaste with how the club has been run.
Some fans have taken it too far however, and a detailed risk assessment has led to the Everton leadership being instructed to not attend the fixture for their own safety.
Statement from Everton
A statement published on Saturday to the Everton website explained the situation.
“Everton’s Board of Directors have been instructed not to attend today’s Premier League fixture against Southampton because of a ‘real and credible threat to their safety and security”, it read.
“Chairman Bill Kenwright, CEO Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Chief Finance & Strategy Officer Grant Ingles and Non-Executive Director Graeme Sharp have reluctantly accepted the outcome of the safety assessment carried out by security advisors,” it continued.
“The Board members received the instruction following malicious and unacceptably threatening correspondence received by the Club and increasing incidents of anti-social behaviour – including targeted physical aggression – at recent home matches,” the press release explained.
A face to face meeting between an Everton fan group, the Fan Advisory Board and Everton senior leadership scheduled for Sunday has also been cancelled amid safety concerns.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel Sunday’s face to face meeting for security and safety reasons,” a statement from the Everton board of directors said.
“We’ll be in touch with all who have pre-registered to ensure they still have the opportunity to share their views.”
The threats to the safety of club officials has widely been condemned by Everton fans on social media since the release of the club statement. The fans who have organised the sit-in protest also released a statement to condemn some fans’ undesirable actions.
“Everyone involved in our campaign and indeed every reasonable Evertonian utterly and completely condemn any threats to any Everton employee and/or officials and directors of the club,” the release from the fan group stated.