THE government has offered to broker talks between Liverpool FC and Everton FC about building a shared stadium.
Sport secretary Andy Burnham MP, a lifelong Evertonian, made the pledge to mediate discussions while visiting young footballers in the city yesterday.
He spoke out after Liverpool’s announcement of a significant delay in its stadium plans for Stanley Park and the decision to hold a time-consuming public inquiry into Everton’s relocation to Kirkby.
Both Liverpool and Everton say a shared stadium is not on their agenda.
Mr Burnham said: “Obviously the situation has changed for both clubs, but it is for them to decide what represents the best way forward.
“Whatever they decide, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport would be available to help facilitate discussions and help the clubs explore the various routes.
“Obviously it is a continually moving situation and it is not right for me to express my preference either way.”
The Leigh MP, who is originally from Newton-le-Willows and went to school in St Helens, also reiterated his strong support of Share Liverpool’s plan for Reds fans to unite and buy the Anfield club.
He said: “It is a challenge, but the long-term goal of fans who want to buy clubs is to make them democratic and not for Sale
“In my view, that is what a football club should be and I would definitely lend my support to that principle.”
Speaking at Anfield sport and community centre, Breckside Park, he praised the two clubs for becoming the first Premier League sides to collaborate in supporting the Kickz initiative.
The project gives young people in deprived areas the chance to attend three nights of sport a week at 25 specially-designated sites.
Mr Burnham added: “Two clubs of this size working together in the community is something you do not see every day.
“In the first year of Kickz, many players have been picked up by clubs and . . . that is a tangible result.”
THE leader of Sefton council said the authority was “bounced” into making a decision on Everton’s Kirkby plans.
Cllr Tony Robertson was critical of the short space of time councillors had to react to the proposal and said it was “sad” people accused Sefton of being opposed to the stadium or Kirkby’s regeneration.
He said the council had never expressed a view about Everton’s stadium and where it should be - and the issue was the linked Tesco-led shopping district, which councillors were told would have an effect on shopping areas from Aintree to Southport.