Everton FC ready for talks on shared stadium but Liverpool FC set to go it alone EVERTON FC chief executive today declared: We are prepared to consider sharing with Liverpool. The suggestion came after Communities Secretary John Denham rejected the club’s plans to move to Kirkby and build a 50,000-seater stadium alongside Tesco in a £400m development.
Robert Elstone said: “It’s certainly one of the options that we will need to cover.
“A shared stadium is perhaps an option if it’s affordable.
“We have to look at where we can raise money, because potentially Liverpool will have to obviously contribute to that, and Liverpool City Council perhaps might need to find some money.
“If we are the first major English club to look at sharing then we’re not scared of making those decisions.
“So we’re going to have to start to have those conversations, we’re going to have to be open-minded about solutions.”
The Everton chief executive also appeared to take a swipe at former partners Knowsley Council and Tesco over the failure to secure final planning approval for Kirkby.
He said: “Our immediate reaction is one of disappointment and surprise. I think surprise because, particularly, our partners were extremely confident of success. That confidence has proved a little bit optimistic and perhaps unfounded.
“The motivations were about driving Everton forward and ultimately giving David Moyes a fairer crack of the whip in the transfer market. That challenge hasn't gone away and it's a challenge now that we're going to have to pick up and run with and perhaps find another solution.”
On the face of it a ground-share would seem an attractive option with Liverpool having put their plans for a £400m stadium on Stanley Park on hold during the current global financial crisis.
But LFC owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett are opposed as they believe it would impact on the amount of cash from a solely owned stadium.
Liverpool’s deputy executive director Peter Shaw said: “It’s not on our agenda at the moment. Liverpool are progressing forward with our own stadium. That is the position we are still in.
“The LFC stadium is quite far progressed and once the financial markets reopen for business the LFC stadium will progress further.”
When asked whether the idea of a ground-share with Everton could be a possibility, he said: “That’s not for me to answer.”
Financing any scheme is at the heart of the problem for both clubs, and Mr Elstone stressed that finding money was the key issue.
“The solution is not about finding land – this is a solution that is about finding money; it’s about affordability,” he said.
“That was the big attraction to Kirkby, that it was affordable.
“Then it’s about reviewing alternatives and sitting down with partners, all the stakeholders in this region and anybody who can help Everton deliver what it needs – which is a world-class stadium that’s going to secure our future for years to come.
Liverpool Council leader Warren Bradley said he wanted to work with Everton on whatever plans they came up with.
“I think it is up to the club to come to us, we will work with Everton to help them achieve what they want,” he said.
“I was the one who first floated it [shared stadium]. But I think we have come to a crossroads. I am not in a position to start dictating to two commercial businesses what to do.
“Robert Elstone has said that he would not rule anything in or out. But I am not going to dictate.
“I would say to Everton as soon as we can let’s talk in a constructive manner about what Everton want to achieve with the help of the council to help them secure funding.
“My favoured option has always been the redevelopment of Goodison.”
He said the possible need to relocate the nearby Gwladys Street Primary school, homes in Muriel Street and Diana Street, and Walton Motors to allow for the redevelopment of Goodison was “not a massive hurdle”.
“I really do believe that we can work with Robert Elstone to bring forward something that can work in the future.”
Opposition Labour leader Joe Anderson said the setback for Everton was an opportunity for both clubs to go back to the drawing board.
“As far as I am concerned this is now a real opportunity for the city council to talk to both Liverpool FC and Everton FC.
“We need to get some meaningful, open, and honest dialogue with both clubs to understand their financial situations.
“And we have got to talk to Everton about what they can offer and what they can do. We need to know exactly what their financial situation is so the council can look at helping.”
NWDA chief executive Steve Broomhead has long been a joint stadium advocate.
He said: “We have always thought it was an option that needed to be tested.
“Our position is that it is a legitimate option that remains in place, as ever it is the clubs that will have to decide what they want to do.” THE ECHO