Ultimatum to Mr. John Houlding


January 25, 1892
The Club To Be a Limited Company
A special general meeting of the Everton Football Club was held on Monday night in the College Hall, Shaw Street for the purpose of hearing the repute of the sub-committee as to new ground, rental, tenancy, &c, and to obtain the direction of the members thereon. The meeting was also convened to consider the desirability of forming the club into a Limited liability company, to purchase Mr. John Houlding‘s and Mr. Orrrell’s grounds on the basis of such a company on similar capital and to lease the present or any other ground. There was a good attendance of members and Mr. W.E. Barclay presided. The Secretary (Mr. R. Molyneux) read the minutes of the last general meeting. The members were provided with copies of the propose prospectus for a Limited liability company, as drawn up by Mr. Houlding, and the report of the sub-committee upon grounds at Goodison-road and Walton Breck-road. Particulars of both these documents have appeared in our columns.

Mr. William Clayton proposed “That we do not entertain Mr. Houlding’s offer to the purchase of his ground,” and said he did so, firstly, “because the ground was worth 7s 6d a yard as demanded.” He was assured by probably the best land valuer in Everton or Liverpool that the full worth of the land; if put upon the market, was not more than 1s 6d a yard (hear, hear).

The chairman thought –it would be better and more expeditious for Mr. Clayton to move a resolution with something definite in it, and not to propose merely datives motions.

Mr. Clayton –“I am bringing it to an issue.” Continuing, he said “that it his resolution was accepted or defeated their would know better how they stood. In addition to the reason that 7s 6d a yard was too much for the land,” he urged that to meet Mr. Houlding’s proposition they would have to call up a large capital in order to buy the land, probably £10,000 or £12,000. Owing to circumstances with which the members were familiar, they had little or no balance in hand, and he did not know how they were going to pay 4 per cent on a mortgage and 5 per cent, to the shareholders.

Mr. Gillies seconded the resolution.

Mr. McKenna thought the legitimate outcome of the deliberations of the subcommittee would have been a resolution to lease of buy some certain ground. They must first of all decide as to which ground they were going to play football upon. The sub-committee had kept them three months since the last meeting.

Mr. Clayton said he was quite prepared to move a resolution if the members decided not to buy the ground.

The Chairman observed that it would expedite matters for him to move the resolution at once (hear, hear).

Mr. Hall supported the resolution, which was carried with a very few dissidents.

Mr. Clayton then said he had a resolution to move, which was –“That the Everton Football Club offer to Mr. Houlding £180 rental, and that they offered to Mr. Orrell £100 a year for his portion of the land, on a lease to run for ten years, on all the terms as mentioned by Mr. Houlding except as to his right to nominate a member of the committee. Mr. Houlding to be given three days to consider his reply to the offer.” Mr. Houlding, he said, would have no financial risk under the terms put forward and therefore would have no right to a nominee on the committee. They had to pay the rent quarterly in advance, and if they failed to do so, Mr. Houlding could step in and seize the fixtures. Mr. McKenna would have them believe the subcommittee had been deliberating for three months and could at any time have brought up a scheme. That was entirely false.

Mr. McKenna – I protest, Mr. Chairman, I never said anything of the kind. I said we had been kept waiting for three month’s, and I repeat it.

Mr. Clayton replied that the subcommittee had been ready with their report for weeks and weeks. He had himself proposed resolution after resolution to hold a meeting of the members and settle the question. But they could get no answer from Mr. Houlding. Any delay that had been caused was not the fault of the subcommittee. Mr. Houlding had told them he did not want more than 4 per cent, on his outlay, and that was £216 not £250, they had been paying for the last three or four years. In consideration of their having to pay additional rent to Mr. Orrell he thought that £180 was a fair rent. The whole of the land was brought for £5,400 and this including the frontage of the land, which the club did not use at all, and for which, it was therefore not fair, to charge them. Deducting the cost of the land at 7s 6d per yard the interest on the reminder was at the outside £180 a year, ‘£100 for Mr. Orrell’s land, and £60 taxes bringing up to £340 –a larger rent than was paid for any football ground in England. As a business man he would prefer to get the Goodison road ground at £50 a year. However, to save time, and because it was desirable to remain on the present ground if possible, he would propose the resolution he had read, with the addition that if Mr. Houlding refused the terms the committee should be empowered to secure another ground, Goodison-road for preference.

Mr. Nelson seconded and asked that the rights of the club to the fixtures on the ground should be embodied in the resolution.

Mr. Clayton agreed to this, and observed that Mr. Houlding had said in open meeting that he did not wish to claim the fixtures and stands. Mr. McKenna spoke in direct opposition to the resolution observing that the mover was the last man he would have expected to say anything about procrastination. Mr. Houlding had told him time after time that he would not take £180 as rental, yet Mr. Clayton, made the proposition and laid the onus on Mr. Houlding. The fact was that personal animus was at the bottom of it (loud cries of “No, no,” and uproar).

Mr. McKenna –All right. Very good (cries of “Sit down,” and “Withdraw.”).

The Chairman –I am afraid there are too many chairman here tonight. I am sure Mr. McKenna will withdraw (applause).

Mr. McKenna –Certainly sir, upon the simple declaration of Mr. Clayton that it is not so. That is a fair and square offer, and I shall able by it.

Mr. Clayton –I attach no weight to anything that Mr. McKenna say. I look upon him as being an irresponsible official, whose utterances are official (a voice “Personal again” and uproar).

The Chairman – If this sort of thing goes on I shall go home, I am not going to waste my time listening to personalities by different members (applause).

Mr. McKenna –I distinctly made a charge, and as distinctly say I shall withdraw it if he says it is not so. As for his other personalities, I take them for what they are worth (laughter and applause). Continuing, he asked why there was not a straight forward proposal to go to the Goodison-road ground, when Mr. Clayton knew perfectly well the first part of his resolution would be refused. He would take Mr. Clayton’s figures and compare the two grounds. The rental at Goodison road was £50 a year and suppose they took a twelve year’s lease that wound be £600. To that they must add the £1,800 which it could cost –according to the sub-committee –to enclose and drain the ground and to put up stands. He did not believe however, that it could be done for that.

Mr. Clayton replied that he had an estimate from Messrs Kelly Brothers to do all that was required for £1,800 (applause).

Mr. McKenna, continuing said, that would make £2,400 or £200 a year, and if they had not money in the bank to pay for the stands, &c, they would have to borrow it a 5 per cent, which would bring the rent up to at least £300 a year. It was said they could sell the stands on the ground. But what for (a voice; “Chips” and loud laughter). It was not necessary to waste their time speaking of the Breck road ground (hear,hear, and laughter). Mr. Clayton knew that all these charges would be incurred, but he did not fairly say so.

In answer to a member, the Chairman’s stated that Mr. Hounding had never definitely said he would not take £180 a year, but he had said he would not change from what he had charged before £250.

Mr. Mahon said he believed Mr. Houlding would behourably fulfill his word as to the fixtures, and therefore all they would require for the new ground would be £330 for their removal, and that such included the draining of the ground. That put an end to Mr. McKenna’s bombast (applause). It was suggested that if they left the present ground an opposition club would be run there, and they must remember that Mr. Houlding was not a weak man to complete against. He had not said he must have £250 but that he thought he ought to have 4 per cent on his outlay.

Mr. Lawrence Crosthwaite said the subcommittee were never empowered to make any offer to Mr. Houlding and they did not make any.

Mr. Everitt hoped the members would loyally support any scheme at meeting decided upon (applause). He thought the subcommittee had fairly carried out what they were appointed to do, but he would suggest that Mr. Hounding should be given seven days to consider his answer. This was agreed to by the mover and seconded of the resolution.

A member asked if, in the case of the majority deciding to leave the ground, would Mr. Houlding continue his privileges to the minority (laughter).

Mr. Kennedy moved an amendment. “That the club do move to Goodison-road.”

Mr. Nisbet, in supporting, said Mr. Clayton knew quite well Mr. Houlding would not accept the offer, and the only conclusion was Goodison road ground.

Mr. Pye moved another amendment that the club remain where it is, on the old terms. “

Mr. Dermott secondly.

Mr. Clayton, in replying to the discussion, said Mr. Houlding had really not been approached on the subject of rental, although it was mentioned in a casual way (Laughter and “Oh, on.”). Speaking of the other grounds, he said that whenever they went, it would inevitable to have head-quarters on the ground, for the members know they had sustained defeat on some occasions through their headquarters not being on the ground (Applause).

Upon the vote being taken, Mr. Clayton’s motion was adopted almost unanimously.

Mr. Gillies said they had taken Mr. Houlding‘s consent as the only necessity, and had not said anything about Mr. Orrell (Laughter).

Mr. Mahon then infinitely propose that the Goodison-road ground, should be secured by the committee if Mr. Houlding refused the offer. This scheme he said, was the one he had in his pocket at the last meeting, when the members declined to put faith in him and others.

Mr. Griffiths seconded and the resolution was carried with but four dissidents.

Mr. Clayton next moved “That the club be turned into a Limited liability company, to be called “The Everton Football Club Limited,” with a capital of £500 in £500 S1 shares, one share to be allotted to each member. His to be called up, in sums of 2s 6d, at intervals, decide upon by the directors; and 10s to be left on call; any shares left over after the allotment of one per member to be allotted as the director may determine.” That would give the club a standing in the case of defaulting players (applause). It would also limit their liability, and protect the name of the club (applause).

Mr. Atkinson seconded and after other members had supported it, the resolution was carried and the committee were empowered to instruct their solicitor to take the necessary legal steps. In answer to one of the members the chairman said the directors would be elected, he presumed by the shareholders.

Mr. Clayton moved a vote of thanks to the chairman, who in replying, said that would probably be his last connection with the club. He believed every person present had acted under the most conscientious motives and he trusted they would give him similar credit (applause). He did not agree with the step they had taken, and he frankly said so (Hear, hear). He believed they had taken a leap in the dark. He had been connected with the club for a long time, and had helped it through many difficulties (applause). He was also prepared to help them in their present difficulty, but in a different way to that upon which they had decided. The resolutions passed made the matter too serious a one for him to undertake and he was afraid he would have to send in his resignation as chairman of the committee in conclusion, he hoped the club would be successful, and that the members would have “A Happy New Year.” (Applause).
(Liverpool Football Echo: January 30, 1892)

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