Denise Barrett-Baxendale told shareholders of her pride surrounding the Everton response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the club's General Meeting, held virtually on Thursday evening, the CEO also revealed what the club's immediate priority will be in the future and spoke of her confidence that the club will return in a strong position.

Football in the UK has been caught in the midst of the pandemic since March and have faced a number of challenging situations over the course of the following ten months.

Everton are no different, having announced record losses in December with a large portion of that being directly attributed to the outbreak of coronavirus.

However, Barrett-Baxendale explained the club's response to the crisis including a decision not to use a Government job retention scheme.

The Blues CEO said: "The pandemic has had a profound effect on the finances of all football clubs, with £67m of our reported losses in the 2019/20 annual reports being directly attributed to the covid-19 pandemic.

"Prior to the pandemic, we were forecasting record revenues in the region of £200m. However, it is encouraging that despite all the challenges presented, our commercial performance has significantly improved and net debt within the club remains at minimal levels.

"In response to the pandemic, the club acted quickly to secure its financial position, forensically scrutinising and challenging all costs - and securing the funding headroom to sustain operations throughout the crisis.

"As a club, we made a very conscious decision at the very start of this crisis not to utilise the Government's job retention scheme, in contrast to other Premier League football clubs.

"As a board, we worked alongside our majority shareholder to protect and retain all of our people - with only the board, first team playing staff, leadership team and a small number of senior personnel taking voluntary pay deferrals.

"Casual staff who are contracted for the season and, through no fault of their own, were unable to work during the pandemic were paid until the end of June 2020. As a club, we believed it was the right thing to do."

Speaking more on that, Barrett-Baxendale opened up on her pride surrounding the club's response to the pandemic.

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Quickly managing to refocus in the midst of the crisis was crucial to Everton as they look to continue the vision set out by the CEO in last year's General Meeting.

"I am proud of the club's financial response to the pandemic," her message continued.

"My fellow directors and I maintain the desire to ensure the club continues to do the right thing for our employers, our supporters and our community.

"Whilst further financial uncertainty undoubtedly remains, I am confident that the club is well positioned to adapt and to address head-on the further challenges that lie ahead.

"At last year's General Meeting I outlined our club's long term vision to establish Everton as an elite club, challenging at the very top of domestic and European competitions.

"I also set out our high-level strategic objectives and a more flexible strategic approach to deliver this vision. This approach is designed to ensure we focus on the most important priorities, but also allows us to be nimble and react quickly when circumstances dictate.

"The emergence of the global pandemic was a live example of such a set of circumstances, and as a club we were able to quickly refocus and re-prioritise."

With vaccinations beginning to be rolled out across the country, the thoughts of many are turning to what the future could hold for football.

At Everton the priority is to welcome supporters back to Goodison Park whenever they are able to do so, and Barrett-Baxendale is confident the club's hard work over the last few months will stand them in good stead.

"Our immediate priority is to return to normal operations as soon as it is safe to do so," she added.

"Back to playing matches in front of full houses at Goodison Park, back to working at our sites across the city, back to being fully accessible across our community.

"The fight against this virus is not yet over and there is still some uncertainty on what the future holds. However, I am confident with the recent progress announced on vaccines, we are much closer to the end than the beginning.

"I wholeheartedly believe the decisive action taken during this period will enable the club to return in a stronger position - ready to continue pursuing our long-term ambitions."

In concluding her 29-minute message to shareholders, Everton's CEO took time to thank the club's staff and their supporters for their commitment over the last few months.

"In the last two years the club has undergone many significant structural changes, adding resources where required, to ensure we are operating to the highest professional standards," the video concluded.

"We must continue to review and scrutinise our professional requirements to ensure our structure is fit for purpose as an elite club and fully supportive of our players on the pitch.

"We are, when all's said and done, a football club - and must deliver results on the field.

"We will continue to support Carlo and Marcel throughout each transfer window and with the support teams, structures and facilities at USM Finch Farm - we are set up to maximise our chances of success in 2021 and beyond.

"I would like to thank Mr Moshiri and our chairman for their continued support. I would also like to thank our people for their continued commitment, resilience, determination and loyalty to get through these unprecedented times to enable the club and charity to stand strong.

"I am regularly asked what makes me proud to lead Everton Football Club, and the answer is our fans.

"The response to this crisis serves only to underline the fact Evertonians are the essence of The People's Club. It's hard to believe it's been almost 10 months since we were all last together at Goodison Park.

"I know I speak for Carlo and the players when I say we cannot wait to welcome you all back to the grand old lady and hear the roar of a full crowd once again.

"Nil Satis Nisi Optimum. Thank you."