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Gerrymandering ... or Terrymandering?

By Craig Kersey :  27/07/2007 :  Comments (7) :

Judging by Lyndon?s recent post, the all important issue of the Kirkby ballot question may have been resolved. However, there is one other aspect of the ballot on which very little analysis is available, namely the ?constituency? of season ticket holders, shareholders and Evertonia members. So here are a few questions that I?d like to see answered on this front, if only to ensure that all potential sources of ballot paranoia have been fully aired.

Estimates of the size of the constituency range from 33,000 to 38,000 (and appear to be on the increase). The shareholders? section of the club website states that there are some 900 minority shareholders. This suggests that when the season ticket holders among them are removed the shareholders will count for just a few hundred net voters and the overwhelming majority will be season ticket holders and Evertonia members.

Drawing any further conclusions is difficult. But season tickets and Evertonia membership also double as loyalty schemes. And I cannot seem to get out of my mind the fact that hovering in the background, and with a vested interest in the outcome of the ballot, is Tesco, a company with a reputation of being world class in analysing and predicting behaviours from such data. Has this resource been put to use in attempting to select a constituency that appears more likely to support a ?Yes? vote for a move to Kirkby?

The club annual reports suggest that (full and half?) season-ticket sales have been at around 27,000 for the eligible seasons. The ?one fan, one vote? rule will reduce this figure as holders of multiple tickets are accounted for, while fans not renewing during the past couple of seasons and being replaced by new season ticket holders will increase it. So it is difficult for outsiders to pin down even the number of season-ticket holder voters, never mind gather any intelligence on the profile of a season ticket holder that is more likely to vote for or against a move to Kirkby.

But it is the unqualified inclusion of Evertonia members that causes me to raise my eyebrows. Some Evertonia members will be season ticket holders anyway. Of those who are not, there will be some very loyal fans that use Evertonia membership to maximise their ability to secure tickets for home games. But surely the club also has access to addresses for those non-Evertonia fans that bought tickets online or over the telephone and had tickets posted to them? Why not include them as well? And could credit and debit card data not be used to extend this still further? Instead, Evertonia members who came to few or even no games last season qualify for a vote. Why?

Surely some transparency on this issue is needed. Here are some suggestions on disclosure that would improve my own comfort level:

  • Numbers of eligible and actual voters in each of the season ticket, shareholder and Evertonia categories, with category overlaps also identified.
  • Average number of fans for 2006-07 home games not in these categories, so unable to vote.
  • Average 2006-07 ticket purchases per non-season ticket holder Evertonia member.
  • Analysis of where voters in each category live, by geography and distance from the club.

Electoral Reform Services, the company running the ballot, states on its website that its ?role is to ensure the fair and impartial conduct of ballots, elections and surveys?. So how about further reassuring us that it has lived up to this by insisting that the club provide this or similar segmental analysis?

Reader Comments

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Chris James
1   Posted 27/07/2007 at 18:25:03

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This is getting bloody ridiculous now. To be honest I really don’t understand how the board of Everton could be much more fair to the fans on ’this’ particular issue.

They are offering a large percentage of the fan base a definitive say in a major decision which they have no need to do and is completely within their power to execute (were Arsenal, Liverpool, Bolton, Man City fans consulted at this level on their stadium move).

What’s more they are even announcing key details to the entire fan base beforehand (including the precise question answered), engaging in open discussion with key groups AND employing an independent organisation to run the ballot.

And still we have people crying ’foul’. Get over yourselves for god’s sake!

Is Kirkby the right move? Possibly not, but to be honest I (like 95% of the posters here) have no idea of the exact financial situation, the genuine alternatives and the many other complex arguments involved.

And at the end of the day, that’s not my job, it’s the job of the people running the club that we’re supposed to be supporting.

As far as I can see they have made their decision on what they think is genuinely best for the club, yet they are still going out of their way to give fans a massive say in the decision, even overturning it. I think it’s about time we gave them some credit for that.

Now if you want to bitch about the less than inspiring transfer policy on the eve of a massive season in which we have a chance to cement top 6 and maybe even take advantage of a weakened Arsenal to return to the loftiness of a CL fourth...that’s another story.

Barry Bragg
2   Posted 27/07/2007 at 19:44:35

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Chris, well said mate. It really is quite startling how many different conspiracy theories people are coming up with. It has been like a medieval witch hunt at times and as you say all BK and KW have done is provide the fans with a vote on what seems to be a very good deal for the club.


What really makes me wonder is what if there are actually no other options out there for EFC. What if this is the only choice we have other than staying put and eventual decline. People are so sure that something else will just turn up they are prepared to spurn this opportunity and plunge us back into the uncertainty of the past decade.
Tesco and Knowsley are ready with a concrete plan and ready to sign contracts on a stadium which is dliverable now and yet people would rather believe the tenuous ’offer’ from Bestway at the loop despite the fact that there are no details or costings to back it up. If Bestway or LCC want to be taken seriously they need to come up with some serious facts and figures quickly.

Rupert Sullivan
3   Posted 27/07/2007 at 21:32:15

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Chris and Barry - although I understand your point about conspiracy theories - Craig has an excellent point here. It is not viable to hold a ’fair’ ballot without declaring who is eligible to vote and why etc. Craig hasn’t called foul at all, he merely suggested that some more questions could be answered. There are a large number of people on this site who have no faith in this process - the EFC Board are probably aware of that - wouldn’t you think they would want to appease such minor issues if they could?

Plus - Chris, as for the club offering the chance to vote to a large percentage of fans - on what do you base that? How many fans do you think Everton has, I’d put money on the 30k voting being less than 10%. There are an awful lot of assumptions being made here - a point which comes across in this article.

If EFC want to do this properly then they should do it properly - not like a piss up in a brewery (which is what this is turning into).
Ann Adlington
4   Posted 27/07/2007 at 22:27:24

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Barry, you say "Tesco and Knowsley are ready with a concrete plan and ready to sign contracts on a stadium which is dliverable now". How did you work this one out? No planning application has yet been made. Given that people will lose their home etc if the scheme goes ahead, the application will almost certainly go to a Planning Inquiry. This will delay matters for a couple of years. In the meantime, the Club will be tied into a legal agreement with Tesco and Knowsley, building costs will increase and the vast majority of us will sit in desperation as other major redevelopment will take place on the Bestway site.

I’m sure a feasible business plan could be made out for relocating to the Bestway site. The problem is that the club won’t even consider this possibility. Feasibility studies etc cost money which no business will splash out on unless the potential partner is serious. This is why Tesco locked Everton into the "exclusivity agreement".

Can you not see the huge commercial potential that a city centre site has over a site in Kirkby? It’s within a short walk of all the city’s main tourist attractions and will be flanked by Project Jennifer. We’ve already been told that there will be no planning objections; the local community and politicians will positively embrace a stadiumin the area - for me there can be no other choice.
Barry Bragg
5   Posted 28/07/2007 at 00:59:25

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Anne given that Knowsley council are using this scheme to revitalise the whole of Kirkby it is highly unlikley it will be called in.

Wyness has already stated that they have been aware of and have looked at all of the sites mentioned by Bradley last week but non of them have the same commercial partners in place to offer the same deal as is available in Kirkby.

Given that the Bestway site is just about big enough to put a stadium on can you please enlighten us as to what commercial advantage there would be for Bestway to give us the site and build us a stadium there. I assume you believe they are going to do it out of the goodness of their hearts. Get real.




All parties may well welcome a development on that site but Everton cannot afford to build a stadium alone. Bradley has already refused to ’give’ us a piece of land to match Knowsleys offer and even if they did it is unlikely Tesco would be allowed to build a retail p[ark of that size so close to Grosvenors new development. It is a bitter pill to swallow but untill someone comes out with more of an offer than ’oh we’d love you to build on our site’ Kirkby is the only option given the club’s financial state.
Steve Pugh
6   Posted 28/07/2007 at 08:34:54

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Chris, what a wonderful argument you put in favour of a move. 30000 fans is 10% of our fanbase. So we need to move to an easily reachable location so that some of the other 270,000 fans can get to games.

I have previously called for a no vote to buy us more time, but now I am getting worried. Bestway came out with a statement of intent but said they would need a show of support from the fans if they were to do anything more. Well the only way we can show support is if they tell us what is on offer. Are they going to build us a stadium free of cost. The Bestway Stadium, it would be nice, but really come on. Unless they intend to buy the club outright they aren’t going to build a stadium.

So many people accuse BK and KW of lying to us and hiding the truth. Now face the truth, if anyone was interested in buying EFC we would know about it. If anyone had a serious alternative to Kirby we would know about it, instead all we have had is comments about this bit of land or that bit of land. Sorry but that does not give me any faith in a viable alternative. Someone give me a real good reason to vote NO. I am wavering.
Ann Adlington
7   Posted 28/07/2007 at 14:36:38

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Barry, you write:

"it is unlikely Tesco would be allowed to build a retail p[ark of that size so close to Grosvenors new development." You obviously don’t know the geography of Liverpool.You also show a complete ignorance of current regeneration projects in the City. "Project Jennifer" is a major development adjacent to the Bestway site. Tesco will be building a new superstore there. There is a considerable area of land on the city centre side of Bestway, and undeveloped land to the front. The potential is enormous.

Warren Bradley has come out today and stated that he has put together a project team to work with Bestway to devise a stadium scheme. A viable business plan will be produced before the ballot. The Council will also waive legal restrictions on what the location can be used for. He has re-iterated that ALL the political parties remain committed to ensuring that EFC remain in the City. This in iteslf must be a first - the unanimous approval of a major city project by all political parties. This obviously means that there will be no planning barriers to overcome.

My hunch is that provided there is a sound business plan,(something which hasn’t even been produced for Kirkby)the Bestway proposal will be up and running while the Kirkby proposal will be bogged dowm in legal challenges for years to come.

By the way, have you read the excellent article on here by Steve Ryan?

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