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18,000 Kids And Counting

Robert Elstone, 17th February 2012 - 13:47

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Robert Elstone

Robert Elstone

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Robert is Everton's Chief Executive.

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As we approach a full house at the weekend, it’s clear the FA Cup holds a special place in the hearts and minds of Evertonians. The most famous competition in the world has also grabbed the attention of our youngest fans.

I’m delighted to report that, to date, 18,000 junior tickets have been sold across the Tamworth, Fulham and Blackpool ties. Keen pricing is clearly important and the ‘FA Cup £5 ticket’ we’ve supported so far throughout this year’s competition is something we’re set to discuss with the Fans’ Forum next week as we get feedback on next season’s pricing and season ticket campaigns. We are very conscious of the importance and value of young Evertonians.

‘Cup fever’ prompted me to re-visit some old blogs and a quick look through early 2009 reminded me of the welcome stresses and strains of allocating too few tickets across our fan base. Of course, juggling too few tickets is a problem we’d like all the time and at the moment isn’t happening often enough. We will readily admit that the task at the top of our ‘to do list’ – filling Goodison on a regular basis - is proving difficult and as we all know there are lots of reasons, not least some ordinary home form, at least up to the last fortnight. One ticket area we do need to juggle on occasion is our away allocations and next month’s QPR fixture has created a headache. 

As we reported earlier this week, QPR has insisted that if we take 3,000 seats and don’t sell them all, we’re liable for any shortfall.  At up to £45 per ticket, 500 unsold tickets would cost us over £20,000. And the £45 ticket price has also had a hand in our decision.  As has the fact that for five out of the 12 away games this season we’ve sold less than 2,500 tickets including 1,400 at Chelsea and 1,600 at Fulham. At that price, there was a risk we wouldn’t sell the entire allocation.  Of course, we argued for a number between 1,700 and 3,000, but this was rejected.  1,700 is definitely not enough but we’ll do what we always do on these occasions, allocate based on loyalty and purchase history as closely as we possibly can. Unfortunately, it will be true that not everyone wanting a QPR ticket will get one. I hope you understand and accept the reasons why.

Coming back to the home form, our last two games have reminded us what we’ve all been missing this year and what Everton is all about. The injection of talent, energy and ‘freshness’ in the January window has clearly been the catalyst; qualities we knew we needed and something we were committed to addressing. Landon Donovan’s loan and Darron Gibson’s transfer, as almost all deals are, were time consuming and ‘hard fought’ but were very relaxed in comparison to the rollercoaster of the final day. With the Manager’s focus understandably split between that evening’s game and the close of the window, the Chairman decided the best place for him was in his office, driving the discussions, and enduring the frustrations of watching the Blues on TV.

David Harrison, our Club Secretary, and I were tasked with finalising loose ends on Jelavic, more loose than we anticipated, and being on hand to pick up on how the day would unfold.  With Jelavic done, the whistle blown and three points in the bag, there was a temptation to say ‘job done’. Not for us, I don’t think the players were off the pitch before I got a text from the Chairman to say ‘stay close to the Manager’ as he initiated and drove the last minute discussions to get the Pienaar deal over the line. Cutting a long story short, we all shared a brief conversation, at two o’clock in the morning, with me on the M62, David Harrison in his office and Bill at his desk in London, on a job well done.

Of course, as we have always maintained, we do everything we can do to strengthen the squad and since the end of the window, we haven’t rested on our laurels.  Highly rated Francisco Junior joined us earlier this week and I hope it won’t be too long before we all get a look at him in the royal blue jersey. And, in closing on the Club’s investment in young talent, congratulations to George Green, one of a small band of footballers who can say they’ve scored the winner for England, against Spain.  Well done, George!

Finally, I would like to, on behalf of the Club and all Everton supporters, pass on our thanks to Landon for the fantastic contribution he has made over the past six weeks, reflected by the fact he was named our player of the month for January earlier this week. Landon heads back to California following the game against Blackpool and we all wish him the very best of luck for the forthcoming MLS season with LA Galaxy.

Enjoy the weekend’s FA Cup tie....

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