Saints and Pompey – Some more analysis

It seems that the map I posted the other day has generated a fair bit of interest. In the discussion which has taken place there have been some key points raised about the validity of the map and some further discussion about what some of the other figures reveal about both clubs support profiles. This post is to address some of these issues.

Gosport and Emsworth

Though these are both in red on the map, I don’t believe they are bastions of Saints support. In total there were 87 Saints supporters and 74 Pompey supporters who responded to the survey. Discounting the areas outside the SO/PO area this left 49 saints Supporters and 52 Pompey supporters.

As many of these were concentrated within the city boundaries themselves this meant that the results for some of the areas outside the respective cities could suffer from response bias. Undoubtedly increasing the sample size would resolve this, but at the end of the day the exercise was just meant as a bit of fun and not to be taken entirely seriously.

If this were to be a serious exercise with time and a budget then the best way to establish both clubs support in the region would be to take a stratified random sample which is based on each postcode areas overall population. To do this would need a complete as possible list of addresses, or phone numbers, some money and a lot of time.

Why don’t more people from surrounding areas support the teams?

Despite the relatively small sample size there were some interesting conclusions which has led to some interesting debate. The Emsworth/Gosport situation came about mainly because both teams support is concentrated within the city boundaries. Step outside of these and the number of people who identify themselves as supporters of either club diminishes.

I’ve gone back to the figures from the survey and separated the postcodes which constitute (in main) the respective cities: SO14 – SO19 and PO1 – PO6

In the case of the SO14 – SO19 postcodes this was home to 20 Saints supporters who responded to the survey, representing 23% of the overall support for the club. In PO1 – PO6 there were 25 Pompey supporters accounting for 34% of the total support for that club.

Looking at the rest of the SO postcode area there were 16 Saints supporters in the survey representing 18% of the total number of club supporters who responded to the survey and in wider PO area (excluding the Isle of Wight) there were 16 Pompey fans accounting for 22% of the clubs support. The Isle of Wight accounted for 6% of Saints supporters and 4% of Pompey supporters. Support from beyond the SO and PO areas accounted for a total of 44% of Saints following and 34% of Portsmouth’s. what this suggests is that while Pompey has a much more concentrated support base the Saints enjoy a greater share of support from beyond the region. In some ways this figures as a Premier League club invariably attracts more attention.

per cent from each area1

It needs to be remembered though that the geographic bulk of the SO and PO areas lies outside the two city boundaries. If we look at the number of supporters per postcode area we can see how dramatic the change is. Unlike the percentages the figures between the two clubs aren’t strictly comparable, but nonetheless provide a good indication of how the level of support diminishes.

amrnded postcode average

Within the Southampton itself there were, on average, 3.3 responding Saints supporters per postcode area. For Pompey there was, on average, 4.2 responding Pompey supporters within the city boundary. Step over the boundary though and in the wider PO area there was, on average 1 Pompey supporter per postcode and in the wider SO area the figure was 0.9.

The question this leads to is why is support so sparse outside the city boundaries, in places like Gosport, Emsworth, Hedge-end and Romsey? Undoubtedly there are plenty of fans from those areas, but if, as I have done you do the cyberspace equivalent of standing with a clipboard and collaring 87 Saints fans they are more likely to be from a postcode area within Southampton itself, or from a postcode completely outside the region than they are from Eastleigh. In fact the chance of them being from Eastleigh is quite small – hence the Gosport/Emsworth problem.

One explanation may be population. Southampton and Portsmouth are the largest cities in the region with (according to the ONS figures for 2012) populations of 239,428 and 206,836 respectively so it may be that more supporters can be expected to come from these areas than the wider region. This is a possibility, but the areas around the cities are also well populated Eastleigh Borough has a population of 126,764 Test Valley of 117,032 , Winchester 117,702 while Fareham and Gosport’s combined population is 196,078 and Havant’s is 121,271. The postcodes outside the cities are also larger to take into account population density.

The other explanation, and the one I favour, is that in both Southampton and Portsmouth, and particularly in those areas where support is strongest – older suburbs and estates the clubs are a much stronger force when it comes to peoples identities. In Millbrook Southampton, just near the Saints Pub, is a water tower on a block of flats painted in red and white stripes. On the other side of town, in SO19 there is a café named after a former Saints manager and also decked out in red and white stripes, and the windows of the Bitterne Park hotel in SO18 has recently acquired Saints crests on all the windows.

By contrast outside these heartlands, across the city boundaries, there are few visible signs of the clubs. There are also local non-league clubs like Eastleigh who have reached the Conference and Gosport and Havant & Waterlooville play in the Conference South. More than that though I believe that in places like Park Gate, Titchfield and Whitely it is not a case of choosing Saints, or Pompey. The choice is far more likely to be between Liverpool, Arsenal, Man United and Chelsea. People living in these in-between suburbs can, if they want follow any of these clubs closely on Television, or via a medium like Twitter – there is no need to go to the ground of one of the clubs which is closest geographically to see a game.


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