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Vote Yes, Vote No? but Vote!

By David Roscoe :  18/07/2007 :  Comments (4) :

In the article I wrote a few days ago, I mentioned that we, as fans, generally have little influence over how our club is run. For example, we aren?t able to control whether David Moyes plays 4-5-1 or 4-4-2, we aren?t able to control whether the club can competently handle the sale of tickets for important games or we aren?t able to control how transfer funds are spent. Issues such as these are left to the various people who are paid to run our club — we can merely sit back and express our opinions.

Unusually, however, a fairly substantial section of our support is about to be given an opportunity to have a say in the future direction of the club. I say unusually because I am not aware of too many other clubs that have proposed ground moves in the past and whose boards gave their supporters the option of a vote. In this aspect of the ground move issue, I think the board should be applauded. Also, whilst I have great sympathy for the large numbers of match-going fans who may feel disenfranchised by not having the opportunity to vote, I do believe that the club, in conjunction with the Electoral Reform Society, have managed to include a reasonably large and fair proportion of our support.

For those of you who are ineligible to vote, I hope you can put your trust in those of us that do have the option.

This brings me to the vote itself. One worrying trend I have noticed since the announcement on Monday is the number of people who, although presumably eligible to vote, seem to be implying that there is no point in doing so because the board has made up its mind anyway. This is an attitude that I really hope we can overcome. Regardless of the final decision, whether for or against, one of the best results we can achieve is that as many people who can vote actually do so. Although it is quite clear that the board are in favour of the move, I personally don?t subscribe to the view that they would go ahead with the move if a large majority of our support voted against. They would look ridiculous if they completely disregarded a strong vote against moving.

Some people will hold very strong views on the subject and will know already how they will vote. They will see the issues as black and white and vote accordingly. This is a perfectly reasonable attitude. Others will see the issues as shades of grey and will not have come to a final decision. Again, this is a perfectly reasonable attitude. I would urge people who fall into this category to consider the variety of information that will be presented in the coming weeks (from the club, the media and the fans). You will probably be bombarded with a combination of facts, opinions, speculation, projections, rumour, pure fantasy and downright lies — I may even post some of this stuff myself. However, at the end of the process, it is then for you to decide, on balance, whether the move to Kirkby is in the best interests of the club.

No matter how much conflicting information you receive you should be able to come to a decision and you should act upon it by voting for your preferred option.

There are many arguments that have been put forward already and you will have to consider them all to see how many you agree with and how many you disagree with. You may be swayed by the view that the club should not leave the boundaries of the city. You may agree with the argument that moving is necessary to generate revenue so that the club can compete in the future. You may decide that the atmosphere in a ground such as Goodison is important and could not be reproduced elsewhere. You may be convinced that we are being offered the option of a new stadium at a bargain price. You may feel that we should hold on and wait for the offer from Liverpool City Council of an alternative site.

Alternatively, you may believe that Liverpool City Council has no intention of providing a financially viable option. The argument that a new stadium will make the club more attractive to new investors may be important to you. Off the back of this, you could take the view that it offers Bill Kenwright his exit strategy and he will take his money and run?on the other hand, it could give him the opportunity to remain on the board and allow him to sell to investors he considers more suitable for our club. Whichever arguments strike a chord most with you, make sure you then have your say in the vote. Even if you feel that your heart is ruling your head, you may be right to follow your heart, regardless of what Keith Wyness may say. After all, this is an emotive issue.

It goes without saying, of course, that the board will only present one side of the story, because they have made it clear that they view Kirkby as the only option. That is not to say that the board are wrong in their view, just that they will be quite professional is disguising any drawbacks associated with a move. As they are the people proposing the move and are those in possession of the most facts, they should be the people most open to scrutiny. For example, when Keith Wyness makes the assertion that gates will fall should we not move, he needs to be challenged to back up the statement with reasons.

The inference that Goodison may have difficulty in obtaining a safety certificate in 10 years needs to be expanded upon. What is the reason for this? Those of you who feel it is important that the club should not leave the boundaries of the city need to consider whether the statement that Kirkby is the only option is actually true. The board may be correct that it is the only viable option, but if the vote goes against them, they may find a site in Liverpool in 12 months time. None of us know the answers for certain, but we can make an informed judgment.

For those of you who are unsure of whether you will vote, please consider the information that will be placed in front of you over the next few weeks and take the unusual opportunity you have been given by voting (Yes or No). Then, no matter what the outcome, we can at least move forward knowing that a large proportion of our fan base has actually been involved in the decision. Also, although the board may not be independent in this vote, they have opened it up to independent scrutiny.

The use of the Electoral Reform Society should ensure that the count is scrupulously fair and also that the question is reasonably fair. So please, don?t labour under the misapprehension that the conduct of the vote won?t be fair and then use that as a reason not to vote. For those concerned that the board would ignore the outcome should the vote go against them, I don?t believe this would happen. So, again, please don?t use this as a reason not to vote.

When Bill Kenwright said that he didn?t want to be the person that took Everton away from Goodison, I suspect he should have added the words ?if a majority of fans don?t want to move.? I think that is why we are being given the option of a vote. If the decision had been left solely to Keith Wyness, I don?t think we would have been given a vote, which is understandable because, as CEO, he would look purely at the business angle with no emotional interest. No matter what else you think of the Chairman, take his offer of a vote at face value.

For the record, although not really important, it?s probably fair to state my own position. As a season ticket holder, I will be eligible to vote and I am pretty sure I will vote against the move because I don?t believe that the board have put forward a convincing enough case to warrant the move. As I say though, my individual opinion is unimportant.

None of us have known anything different from Goodison in our lifetimes. It may be the right time to move on or it may not. Either way, the decision we are about to take is an important one. If you have the opportunity, make sure that you exercise the right you have been given. Your vote will count. Vote ?Yes? or vote ?No?... but Vote!

Reader Comments

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Rupert Sullivan
1   Posted 19/07/2007 at 13:20:58

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David, great article. The interesting thing from my perspective is that a vote based upon no, little or biased information is not a worthwhile vote. Without Everton Football Club providing information to the ’voters’ concerning the financial viability of the move, of the alternatives or any of the other holes in knowledge mentioned in your piece the vote will only be a gut reaction of fans. A gut reaction should not be used to determine the future home of Everton Football Club.

Therefore, maybe no-one should vote in protest at the board’s shambolic management of this issue and the relationship with their fans. Maybe the fans of EFC should stand up for once and tell the board that presenting a one-sided issue is not acceptable and that they have a duty of care towards us.
Dan Mckie
2   Posted 19/07/2007 at 14:49:14

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I agree with Rupert,we dont know what we are voting for if we say yes or no at the moment.All it seems to be is ’vote for Kirkby’ but whats that mean? A nice new stadium and security and more importantly progress for Everton and its a yes from me regardless of it being 6 feet or so outside the city boundaries :)
David Roscoe
3   Posted 19/07/2007 at 16:41:23

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I fully understand the dilemma Rupert has raised. However, I think there are two potential issues with abstention. The first is that it is easier to encourage a high turnout than to discourage voting all together - there will always be people who will be determined to vote. The second issue is that the board will be able to spin anything other than a large "No" vote to their advantage. You can imagine the scenario: only 5,000 people vote (largely against a move) and the board can say that the remainder don’t mind if we move and are entrusting the decision to the off we go to Kirkby.

I think that only a large "No" vote will prevent the move, because that is a situation that the board would find difficult to reconcile to their own position.

You seem to be in a similar position to me in that you aren’t convinced by what the board are saying (i.e. a lack of credible information). To my mind that leads me to vote "No". I feel that the board has to convince us if they wish to change the status quo. If they can’t convince us, we tell them to go away and try to come up with something better. We then remain at Goodison until they do.
Mick McDermott
4   Posted 23/07/2007 at 09:56:59

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Speaking as a fan of a club who have moved from an old ground with an atmosphere in the middle of town, to a new ground on an industrial estate (Derby), I feel I may have something to add.

The problem you seem have is that if you try to redevelop Goodison, you’ll get bogged down by the constraints of what currently exists. Your ground like the old Baseball ground was designed for Terraces. When you shoehorn seats in everything changes.

The proposed plans for the BBG development allowed for an expansion for up to 30,000 seats wheras Pride Park will soon be a 44,000 seater.

We lost the atmosphere and history of the BBG but then how many of the grounds retain an atmosphere with seats? Pity about the history but you can’t live on past glories and at least Pride Park offers the club a future.

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