To the editor of The Athletic News: The Everton Football Club dispute

February 6, 1892
“Sir, – The dispute in this club has been so trammelled by personalities and politics that I appeal to your readers (whose interest is purely one of sport) to consider the questions in dispute, from my point of view as an old member.

The E.F.C. were renting a field from Mr. Joseph Orrell, when he, in 1885, gave them notice to quit, as he wished to sell his land. The members being unable to find a suitable field in the neighbourhood, called a meeting to consider their position, and it was noted that a company be formed to buy the field. Only £17 was promised at the meeting, so this solution of the difficulty was deemed unfeasible. The meeting then decided to consult Mr. J. Houlding, who was known to be a staunch patron of outdoor sports, and the matter was left in the hands of the then committee.

Letter 2

“After several interviews with Mr. Houlding, and in response to considerable pressure put upon him, he bought the land from Mr. Joseph Orrell, and rented it to the club on the understanding that he was to have £100 for the first year’s rent, and that the club should pay more when they were in a position to do so, that the maximum was to be four per cent on the outlay, and that he would never enforce the full rent if they were unable to pay, but would accept less or even no rent if their financial position rendered such a course necessary. Messrs. Barclay and Jackson guaranteed the first year’s rent and, although it was not paid until six months overdue, they were never called upon to fullfil their guarantee.

“Those conditions, with further one that Mr. Houlding have the right to a nominee in committee, were honourably carried out year after year until, with the increasing success of the club, came an influx of new members who, first through their committee, and then at a general meeting of the club, fixed the maximum rent of 4 per cent, at £250.

“So far Mr. Houlding’s contract was adhered to, but there came a disturbing element in the course of action adopted by Mr. John Orrell, who, under a contract existing between himself and Mr. Joseph Orrell, whose place as owner Mr. Houlding had filled, and whose responsibilities Mr. Houlding is bound to carry out, called upon Mr. Houlding to make half a street on his land, to complete a street on the division of the land. This being communicated to the committee of the E.F.C., and they finding that this street would come one year into the field of play and that Mr. Orrell would sell a portion of his land, passed the following resolution: –

‘That this committee consider it desirable to form a limited liability company to purchase Mr. Houlding’s interest in the present football ground and Mr. Orrell’s interest in a portion of the adjoining land.’

“At the committee’s request Mr. Houlding drew up a scheme which they approved of, and he, at their wish submitted it to a special general meeting of the members, who, led by a committeeman who had been an approver of the scheme, rejected it.

“Then followed all the Press warfare of charge and counter-charge, innuendo and counter-innuendo, of which I, as a member of the club, am heartily tired.

“Meeting followed meeting, resolution followed resolution, each stultifying the previous one and still no settlement. The last special meeting represented the lack of interest taken by the members as only 220 out of the 500 attended, and of these 180 resolved the club into a limited liability company, with a capital of £500, and to move to another ground in Goodison-road.

“In the response to this a section of the old members say, ‘If you move from the old ground you shan’t take the old name, which we have worked so hard to make famous,’ and they register the title of the Everton Football Club and Athletic Grounds Company (Limited).

“When I tell you, sir, that it is confidently stated here that £50 was paid to secure the Goodison-road Ground before the meeting of members agreed to it, you may see that the seven signatories to the company may feel themselves justified in their action.

“Now, sir, I, as an old member, feel found to adhere to our agreement with Mr. Houlding as long as he keeps to his part of the contract, and so far I can assure Mr. Houlding that all the old members are with him, and I can safely say that so long as he needs our support he shall have it. The old members of this club have always boasted of their fidelity to their engagements, and it is not their intention to allow any new member or members to destroy the club’s record for honourable dealing.

“I trust I have not encroached too much upon your valuable space, and remain, sir, your obedient servant.
“A Supporter of “The Queen and Everton.”
“Liverpool, February 6, 1892.”
(Source: Athletic News: February 8, 1892)

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