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Home is where the heart is

By Lyndon Lloyd :  25/05/2007 :  Comments (38) :

Of the all the issues that have arisen concerning Everton Football Club in recent years, none is more emotive, more controversial or more obfuscated by politics than the stadium debate. Crucially, no issue is more important for the club's future and with the stakes so high, it's no surprise that the reaction from shareholders and supporters has been so polarised and will continue to be so passionate, particularly if it looks as though the proposed move to Kirkby gets the green light.

Goodison Park: Home for 115 years

Following the club's announcement of the period of exclusivity with Knowsley Council, the argument over the club's stadium plans crystallised in the media and the Board's rhetoric into a choice of staying at Goodison Park in its current state or leaving the City of Liverpool. There was, of course, a middle option ? that of building a new stadium elsewhere in Liverpool ? but until very recently, this didn't seem to even be feasible given the perceived lack of support from Liverpool City Council, a shortage of viable locations for development and the significant caveat that the state of Everton's finances makes funding a new stadium without outside assistance practically impossible.

Now, with an increasingly vocal body of supporters coming out in opposition to the Kirkby proposal, Warren Bradley, the leader of LCC and an Evertonian, has called on the Everton Board to investigate all options within Liverpool before taking the decision to relocate outside of the city boundaries and hinted that "possibilities" do exist in Liverpool. That may be true but whether there are any suitable sites would be contrary to claims made by Bill Kenwright and Keith Wyness, not to mention Liverpool FC's own findings when they were investigating potential sites for their own new ground.

As ever, facts or certainties surrounding the whole ground-move issue are hard to come by, just as they were when the Kings Dock stadium project collapsed three years ago, and, sadly, no one can predict what effect moving grounds will have on the club. Certain aspects are a given, however.

That Everton need to find an alternative to Goodison Park in its present, ageing state is no longer in question. The Grand Old Lady, once the finest club stadium in the country, has clearly fallen into disrepair and lags far behind other Premiership stadia of comparable size. 4,000 obstructed views appear to serve to artificially depress the club's attendance at home games and, if rumours about the condition of the Bullens Stand are correct, is barely able to pass safety guidelines these days.

The question that has nagged at Board and fans alike for a decade now is what is the best way to achieve a state-of-the-art ground befitting a club of Everton's history and stature? Redevelop Goodison in its current location or construct a brand new, purpose-built stadium somewhere else?

While no one at Board level has publicly stated as much ? CEO Keith Wyness admitted in a recent interview that the club haven't discounted it as an option but it is clearly a last resort at this point ? Goodison Park can be re-developed in its current location. It is a proposal fraught with logistical hurdles, though; the redevelopment would be piecemeal and would require the full commitment of the Council to grant them permission to expand the current footprint, assist them in the process of purchasing adjacent residential and school properties, and potentially alter the course of Walton Road.

More importantly, Everton cannot afford to rebuild the stadium on their own, not without prolonging the development process over several years and having to divert much-needed funds away from player purchases.

In that context, the Kings Dock proposal seemed to be a heaven-sent solution. Everton could share the burden of financing a new, state-of-the-art facility in one of the most prestigious locations in Liverpool. In hindsight, even after the estimated costs of the project began to spiral upwards and the only real alternative left for the club was Paul Gregg's reverse mortgage proposal, the Kings Dock still looked more attractive than a wholesale move to Knowsley that is dependent on the Tesco supermarket chain.

As if the death of that Mersey-side dream weren't painful enough, the City Council had in the interim rubber-stamped Liverpool FC's plan to build a new stadium on a greenfield site in Stanley Park. Now, not only were Everton back to square one but their local rivals, with their vastly superior resources, would be building a palace on their doorstep.

All of this went on against a backdrop of mutual mis-trust that is rumoured to have existed between Everton and the Council, pre-Bradley. Local politicians will tell you that at no point did EFC ever ask for permission to investigate the possibility of a new stadium on Stanley Park whereas LFC did, while sources close to the Kings Dock bid suggest that LCC continually threw up obstacles in an effort to derail Everton's part in that project ? the result of a clear pro-Liverpool/anti-Everton agenda on the part of the Council, or an acknowledgement that the club had little choice?

Whatever the real reason, when the Kirkby option came up, to the outsider it looked very much as though LCC, for years frowned upon by Blues as being rabidly Red, were, at best, ambivalent at the prospect of losing Liverpool's first major football club to Kirkby and, at worst, actively encouraging Everton's departure from the City. With those obstacles in place, the offer by Knowsley Borough Council to provide land for free and a partnership with Tesco to help fund construction form a very attractive alternative. Indeed, the club argue that it may be the only alternative given the current circumstances.

Speaking after December's AGM, Chairman Bill Kenwright reiterated that, "we've now got to get [turnover] towards £70m-£80m and we can't do that [at Goodison]. We've run out of options."

Of course, some fans argue that Everton FC look to be moving towards the head of the queue of clubs waiting to be snapped up by foreign investors and a takeover of that nature would provide all manner of options. The obvious problems there, though, are three-fold: firstly, Bill Kenwright has shown no willingness to either sell up or dilute his shareholding thus far; secondly, we could sit around for the next five to 10 years waiting for someone with the right credentials and bank balance to come along and still not get bought out, all the while having fallen further behind the "big four" than we already have; and, thirdly, any new owner would have to have enormously deep pockets in order to erase the current debt (rumoured to be anywhere between £30m and £50m) and fund a new stadium development.

So, while you can forgive those fans who are sceptical of the Kirkby proposal from wanting to put the brakes on our rush to abandon our roots, you can also understand those who believe leaving Liverpool for Knowsley is the only viable option.

Of course, while the financial case for Kirkby appears sound, except at its extremes ? Manchester United on one, Leeds United the other ? football rarely conforms to laws of economics. At its heart, the game is driven by people's emotional attachment to a given team and in Everton's case you could argue it is that and much, much more.

To an outsider, it may sound ludicriously partisan to say that Everton are practically unique among English football clubs, but our place and role in the history and development of the domestic game is almost unmatched. And, of course, our own history is unique. We were founder members of the Football League, the first major club in Liverpool ? Liver bird on the badge and all ? spawning the other lot from our own ranks in 1892, and for much of its history, Goodison Park was at the forefront of football stadia.

Personally, leaving Goodison Park would be painful enough without the added ignominy of leaving Liverpool itself. Say what you like about "it's only four miles," "Kirkby is practically Liverpool," and "aren't we the Pride of Merseyside," there is the undeniable feeling that we'd be leaving our roots in Stanley Park and the City of Liverpool to our rivals. As if we didn't have a big enough recognition problem as it is!

I say that as someone who was vociferous in his support of Peter Johnson when he first floated his grand "Hamperdome" vision. Swayed by the glossy brochure, the artist's impressions of the stadium and its Prince Rupert's Towers and tree-lined car parks, I bolted a pro-move site onto, a predecessor of the modern-day ToffeeWeb, called it NSSNO (Nil Stadium Satis Nisi Optimum) and posted locquaciously about Everton's bright future in a new home. Over on the ToffeeNet mailing list, I had long-running and testy arguments with members of Goodison For Ever-ton challenging their "luddite views."

Put simply, I was a fully paid-up member of the pro-move bloc and wasn't the least bit surprised when Chairman Johnson's ill-conceived vote on the issue came out in favour of moving by a massive margin. It was a "no-brainer," right?

The problem was that in my haste to promote a move to pastures new and not having been born and raised in Liverpool, I had been missing some very large pieces of the picture; namely tradition, history, local pride and the incalculable sense of belonging that so many fans felt towards Walton and its environs. It was only through investing my soul in this website that I began to get a wider sense of what it means to be an Evertonian, that I became a true student of the club's history, fell in love with its folklore, and took its legends from the past to my heart.

Each trip to Liverpool became more of a voyage of discovery, each visit to Goodison Park deepened my affection for the place and every new person that I met, mostly through connections made on the Internet, made me feel more and more like I was connected, spiritually at least, to that part of the world and that I was chosen.

Who doesn't look at old photographs going back to William Dean's days or watch clips from the 1960s and feel the connection through history afforded by the Archibald Leitch criss-cross design adorning the stands or the masses in the Gwladys Street End swaying as one?

Goodison has been our home for 115 years. That is longer than an awful lot of clubs have been in existence, so while it's easy to say, "oh, well, we moved before, we can do it again," actually leaving behind all that history and all those memories ? from Dixie's 60th goal in a season to the Holy Trinity delighting the faithful, to the 1985 victory over Bayern Munich and the pitch invasions when we secured Premiership safety twice in the 1990s ? is a massive step.

And where the Kirkby proposal is concerned, we would be moving miles beyond our roots. It's strange to think in this era of globalisation that a few miles and a political boundary would make all that much difference, but that would be to overlook the relatively small geographical area in which Everton FC has been anchored throughout its history.

Priory Road, Stanley Park, Anfield, Mere Green, the old Roundhouse, Goodison... they're all within the proverbial stone's throw of each other and Everton is woven into the social fabric of the area. Yes, leaving L4 may be necessary, but the psychological effect of leaving the city lock, stock and barrell as well while Liverpool stay behind on a greenfield site in our old back yard would, speaking personally, be very hard to stomach.

The painful part here ? and the reason why we're effectively backed into a corner ? is the cold hard reality of Everton's situation. Realistically unable to fund the redevelopment of Goodison Park even if the Council gave its blessing to extend the existing footprint, the club must build elsewhere and only then with the financial and political backing of local government and a commercial enterprise with its own stake in the success in the project.

With Warren Bradley now stepping out of the shadows of this issue ? critics who accuse him of political posturing say it's too little too late ? the prospect of support from the Council for the club if it needs to look back inside Liverpool's borders if the Kirkby option comes to nothing has emboldened opponents of the proposed move to Knowsley and offered hope that there might still be a way to keep Everton in the city.

Where? is another key question. Liverpool FC identified 18 potential sites, including an option to extend Anfield, as part of their preliminary assessment for a stadium development (see sidebar). Following a sieve analysis which included "planning policy, access/transportation issues, environmental constraints, site size/capacity to accommodate the development, site availability and, as a reflection of the Club?s desire to remain in the northern part of the city, proximity to Anfield," the club eventually narrowed the choice to three sites, Gillmoss, Speke Boulevard and Stanley Park, settling as we know on the last. (The other two sites are widely believed to be the two offered by LCC to Everton in their deliberations prior to the signing of the exclusivity deal with Knowsley Council.)

Of course, unless the Council takes the unlikely step of opening up more greenfield land on Stanley Park for Everton, the most viable location for a new stadium development has already been taken by Liverpool FC. Bradley has, however, hinted that the Council would consider Walton Hall Park, arguably the most suitable location in terms of available land and proximity to Goodison but which carries a significant impact on recreational land, as a possible site.

Ultimately, though, everything comes back to the issue of financing the venture and the need for extra-football revenue generators like hotels, restaurants, bars, a conference centre, etc. The Kings Dock stadium project was Everton's passport to a new ground befitting its image and goals and located inside Liverpool's boundaries. Back then, our partners were the City Council itself and Liverpool Vision; today, with no real funds ourselves, we're still dependent on a joint venture with local government and a commercial enterprise.

Thus far only Tesco, whose CEO has been a "special advisor" to the Everton Board for the past two years, have emerged as realistic commercial partner for the club and it is they who have identified Kirkby as a suitable location for a superstore that, in conjunction with a new stadium for Everton and other leisure and entertainment projects, would form a largescale rejuvenation of what is a depressed area.

But there is a lot we don't know about the Tesco deal, most significantly how the revenue from the new complex will be split and how a superstore and a stadium will be juxtaposed on the same site without the development ending up like a soul-less ocean of concrete and industrial parks like Reading's Madejski Stadium.

Then there is the danger of eroding the fanbase ? with a survey a few years back suggesting that Everton had more match-going supporters who walked to their club's home ground than any other Premiership club, you discount what seems on the face of it to be a seemingly sprurious fear at your peril ? by relocating out of the city at a time when the growing financial gulf between Blue and Red grows ever larger in parallel with the two clubs' perceived size.

It promises to remain an emotive argument, but one that will likely prove to be redundant unless the Knowsley-Tesco venture follows the Kings Dock proposal and implodes or the bloc of fans for whom leaving the city is unthinkable can mobilise in sufficient numbers and with sufficient voice as to stop the process in its tracks.

Ultimately, the easy part for Kenwright and Co will be to convince the faithful that Kirkby is right for Everton financially; what will be exponentially more difficult will be to make the sceptics and the die-hard make it feel right. And the heart of it, in this Blue's heart the Kings Dock felt right, Kirkby just doesn't.

It isn't a reactionary, luddite viewpoint, it's not a slight on Kirkby or any of its residents, it's not even an opinion that many would say is grounded in any economical reality; it's a heart-felt feeling that Everton Football Club belongs in the city of Liverpool and that everybody concerned should move heaven and earth to keep it there. If only life were that simple...

Reader Comments

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1   Posted 26/05/2007 at 00:34:25

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For fans walking to the ground, I have been a season ticket holder for 8 years. I travel on the bus from Kirkby. If any fans in Walton stopped going as it was too far, then I would suggest that they aren?t true Evertonians. To move to other sites such as Speke would still mean people close to the ground would have to travel, and more than likely it's further and certainly more difficult to reach than Kirkby.

I agree Kings Dock would have been ideal, but that is gone, to develop goodison would mean having at least one end shut each season, that is impossible. But if we move, then I think that Kirkby is no worse thank moving to anywhere else with an L postcode.

2   Posted 26/05/2007 at 01:53:55

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Just like Everton?s fans the clubs spirit should not be found only in its exact location. The important thing is that we remember what it is to be an Evertonian. If that's brought with us to the new stadium then so is Goodison's history and character.

In an ideal world we could stay at Goodison, but if we want to achieve future glories, which will add further to the club's great history, then we need to move on.

Gary S.
3   Posted 26/05/2007 at 03:34:55

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Excellent post, Lyndon. Ben and John, equally excellent replies. I have never lived within Liverpool?s city boundaries. The nearest I came to those was when my family lived in Southport and I was four to five years of age.

I first visited Goodison when I was 16 years old (1984) and what an experience. After that my dad and I attended an Everton game whenever we could together, home or away. So what made me become an Everton supporter?

My dad, way back in the 70?s. My dad, who had never lived within Liverpool, had never been to Goodison. My dad had never been to a football match in his life and yet he spouted Everton to me. I had scrapbooks of newspaper reports in the ?70s; Andy King, David Lawson, Bruce Rioch, Duncan McKenzie (THE Duncan for me), Bob Latchford etc. I read every newspaper report available, cut them out and placed them in my scrapbooks. Why?

Why would I put myself through hell? If you think today is bad, consider being the sole EFC follower at a High School full of them others without today?s internet! You only got to read what the papers wrote; it was as tainted then as it is now. I stuck with them then, as I do now, just like my mate Tantie who was the sole Wrexham supporter. Once a supporter, always a supporter through thick and thin.

Goodison holds a lot of memories for me and my dad. From seeing the Division One trophy held aloft before the WHU game to the Ipswich Town FA Cup tie. Down 2-1, mere minutes to go, unsure how long until the whistle blew (no added time allocated back then), and we scored the equalizer. Rapture as Blondie sung. I remember trailing to the RS at GP 3-0 at halftime and going to get a cuppa (not 18 yet!) and a guy saying, ?Why the glum face?? (more or less). We lost 3-2 but it was one hell of a second half!

My dad and a mate saw the best game ever played at GP. Billie (according to dad) puffed away on at least 40 cigs during the Bayern game, 30 must have been smoked before our second rifled into the net. I missed that game (adolescence and alcohol) but listened to it on the radio and when the final whistle went I was jumping for joy. One ? we won, two ? my punishment was over and I went straight across to the local, ordered lemonade and celebrated!

Dad and I travelled the country to follow Everton. Visits to Goodison were a 110 mile round trip ? admittedly the stops at Pubs were welcome ? and we did this as often as possible. We also made trips to Southampton on a New Year?s Day, Ipswich, Sunderland, and Newcastle et al. We did it because we were and still are Everton supporters.

If Everton move to a new ground be it within or outside the city boundaries will it have an effect on the support? It should not. If supporters really support the team they will go to the new ground. Admittedly transport costs have increased significantly recently. If the stadium is within reach of those who currently walk to Goodison, true supporters will go the little extra. If supporters from outside the region are willing to go the extra mile, like dad and I were, surely those within can do the same?

Mike Dolan
4   Posted 26/05/2007 at 03:21:17

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Thank you for your insightful piece, Lyndon. Yes it will be wrenching to move from the grand old lady. I wish we could stay at Goodison forever. In life though there are no forever?s. Our region for drawing died-in-the-wool Evertonians is Merseyside at the narrowest definition, it is the North West, Lancashire as perhaps a more accurate definition. Evertonians are perhaps joyously more scouse than the Redshitians but let's face it are we not being just a tad parochial to think that to move to Knowsley is such a great deal.

The important thing I believe is that wherever we have our stadium built, we don?t just build a stadium ? we will build our home. I would hope that the local businesses adversely effected by our move from Walton would be given first dibs on similar Kirby outlets.

The most important thing is that Everton FC control the design of the new Goodison. Just for elaboration's sake in this age of the Car and Mass Transport, do you realize that both the New York Giants and the New York Jets both play in New Jersey and the New York Islanders play in some hick place on Long Island?

The one thing that I notice by following this wonderful site is that a lot of my fellow Evertonians take it for granted that we are a second-rung club. Let me remind you that the main difference between us and Liverpool and Arsenal is depth of squad ? surely Kieth Wyness could try to even the playing field for Everton somewhat. By enacting rules that make squads the same size. And if you drop a player of your squad he is immediately available to any team on a Free. Also no Loan players except for players who have not made the first team.

5   Posted 26/05/2007 at 09:00:43

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Great article. Last year I went to GP for the fifth time. It was special simply because it was my sons first visit to Goodison. He was seven, and for a treat we booked our flights Belfast to Liverpool and made our way by bus to the ground. It is beyond words the sense of excitement and energy you feel when you approach Goodison. Never mind the seven year old! The thirty three year old was bursting with awe- Cup-a-tea in the church, tour the streets, feel the buzz- unbelieveable! Great match- simply- we won!!! Beat Sheff Utd. Half time they read out birthday wishes to the young lad- The heart was pumping. Goodison may be 100 years plus old- but the heart is young and beats like no other stadium in the country. I’ve been to a couple others- MAn UTd- dead, no heart, no pumping that blood throughout the viens of its body- It is possible to do a heart transplant- the risks are high- probably to high- Time will tell, but even as an alien in liverpool- Goodison gives a sense of home. REDEVELOP GP!
Brian Connoly
6   Posted 26/05/2007 at 09:09:26

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I was brought up in Norris Green and often walked to GP. The eighties was the best time of my life. In my early 20’s I had lots of friends who were blue and red, it was a great time. Life was fun and simple talking about footbal and girls. I loved going for a drink along County Road after the match and getting a taxi home afterwards. Goodison has lots of great memories for us all, but we must move on if we want to challenge for the title. Our team now is not built on sand we are on the way up. We have got to buy into the idea that there is a momentum growing and the new stadium should be part of this. One thing is for sure, and I think back to the late 70’s and early 80’s if the team is poor regardless of the location the support will dwindle. The move to Kirby seems the best option were the stadium is bought whilst still investing in the team. I moved away from Liverpool in 1994 and now live in Yorkshire were I have seen the demise of Leeds at first hand. It is heart breaking for friends of mine seeing local kids wearing Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool shirts. At least my boys wear Everton shirts with pride because their dad is a blue, so they are. Its in the blood. This is whole point, it is more than a move to Kirby. I want my boys to feel what it is like to be the best, to have that swagger and to be confident in every game. To see your team play with style and to be the club of choice for the best players.
Eric Atkinson
7   Posted 26/05/2007 at 10:08:50

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Whilst I admit this is a generalisation, it seems to me from various conversations and message boards that most fans that currently live in the Merseyside area would prefer to stay within the city and the blues that travel from further afield want to move.
Liam Milsom
8   Posted 26/05/2007 at 11:09:21

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We must not get carried away with the ’financial certainties’ that are supposedly attached to a ground move. A bigger stadium cannot guarantee bigger crowds. Whilst the corporate facilities would clearly improve upon those at Goodison this does not necessarily guarantee greater investment in the team, which is the ultimate goal. Many clubs have new stadiums, very few have had any level of success. The squads of Bolton, Sunderland etc are no closer to those of the top four despite ground moves. The assumption that a new ground will result in more investment in players must be proven and the evidence of a lot of other clubs is that this cannot be guaranteed. The priority is to ensure a new stadium will result in a better team, then we can argue about where it should be.
John Jay
9   Posted 26/05/2007 at 10:17:59

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Nice article, Lyndon, and you’re right to press for as little relocation upheaval as possible on a city site in the North-End... Goodison itself would be my first choice - but, I must say, Walton Hall Park runs it a close (and very acceptable...!) second. I reckon it’d be well worth pitching to that mega-rich Dubai outfit that almost got its hands on LFC. They didn’t like the off-hand way those Yanks muscled them out and I’ll bet they’d go for a deal with another major Premiership club like Everton - in the same city - if only to show the world what they could’a done at Anfield. WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN PLENTY MORE THAN THOSE AMERICANS WILL DO...!!! Eat your Heart Out Liverpool...!!!
Lars Lund-Hansen, Denmark
10   Posted 26/05/2007 at 12:11:46

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As an evertonian for almost 40 years I have to say that a move is crucial if we want us back to the top of the premiership. A stadium with a capacity of 60.000 is my wish. I dont care where the stadium is placed as long as we own it.
Tom Evans
11   Posted 26/05/2007 at 12:16:01

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A well crafted article which appears to cover every aspect of the present situation. I live in East Yorkshire and the current 270 mile round trip would be shortened by 8 miles or so if a move to Kirkby came off. Obviously that is not the issue, but having spent the first 25years supporting the Blues whilst living on the Wirral I think I can comment on the feelings of those living outside Merseyside. We will support the team wherever they end up playing. Yes, ideally it should be within the city boundaries, but this debate in its present form agrees on one matter, and that a decision need to be made now. I am glad I do not have to make it, the judgement of Solomon is needed here, whatever the decision we need to accept it and move forward. As plenty have mentioned earlier, when LFC start building their new stadium on our doorstep and it will be there for all to see, if we haven’t sorted out our ground issue, I am worried that a knee jerk recation will take place and we will rush into making rash decisions.
Kay, Eindhoven
12   Posted 26/05/2007 at 13:05:08

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Great overview, Lyndon. I am Thai and I have been supporting Everton since 1984. Probably because of the fate, my first english game I watched was Everton v. Watford, FA cup final.

Now that I have a chance of working in Holland, I and my wife made a pilgrimage trip to Goodison for the first time last year (April 2006, vs. Sunderland). We loved the atmosphere around Goodison before the game, especially shops and bars along goodison road. With such good impression, we flied from Holland to Goodison again to watch vs. Watford 1st game of memorable 2006-07 season.

Also to celebrate my first game as an Evertonian 23 years ago. In April, due to problem with our on-line purchase, No tickets were waiting for us at the stadium, thus, we were forced to buy in our last minute, and got seats with obstructed view on the Main stand. Second time was better since we got nice seats in the Paddock.

These made me realize the different when you get seats with a lot of obstracles. With all my love and respect to the Grand Old Lady, I have to say her facilities are not the best any more. Even though I love Goodison and Walton area, I would not mind if we have to move to Kirkby for better stadium and facilities. I will still support Everton. I think I will again fly from anywhere in the world to Liverpool, take another bus or train just to visit Kirkby stadium. We need to move on and progress when we have chance (and partners). I don?t want to look back in 5-10 years time with the same feeling as how we are looking back to King dock project now.

Curious what will happen with goodison park, I hope the land and stadium will still be a property of Everton FC. We can keep the stadium ( with gradual destruction) as a sport facilities for people around Walton area, with a success, one can even try to expand its footprint little by little. As a long term plan, after the Kirkby stadium degraded in 50 years, we know where we want to move again. Goodison park will be the solution, who knows.

13   Posted 26/05/2007 at 13:52:03

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We had a vote on the move to Kings Dock.Do we have another for the proposed move to Kirkby?
John Patrick McFarlane
14   Posted 26/05/2007 at 14:54:15

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Good Article, and like you say it is very difficult to calculate the financial against the emotional. If Kirkby was such a good idea i’m fairly certain our neighbours would have built their new stadium there. For Everton not to remain in the city of Liverpool is financial suicide. Liverpool Business’s and civic leaders will have no reason whatsoever to promote Everton , the Media are not going to go the extra 4 miles to cover stories relating to EFC. If we think that our profile is already lower than most of us think it should be , then wait till we get to Kirkby. As the saying goes ’you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone!
15   Posted 26/05/2007 at 14:52:54

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The trouble at E.F.C. is Kenwright,he does not give a toss about the ordinary fans feelings,he is only interested in making a killing after we move to Kirkby.He could have sold the club,Michael or one of the others have told us so,but no he is just a greedy bastard,and he will see the demise of this great club of ours.Its alright saying "its only up the road",it is NOT in this city!We belong here more than that red shite do,if we’d had paid the bloody rent,they wouldn,t have existed even.I am asking every one who has a vote on the issue,to vote no.If the vote is no,he said he will walk away from the club,if he does,it just may be the Godsend we are praying for.
Sean Rothwell
16   Posted 26/05/2007 at 18:34:51

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I wish people would get over the fact that the proposed location for the new ground happens to be in Knowsley. I could understand if people objected to being further away from the city centre but to form such damning judgements of the Club’s plans because of a political boundary just seems silly to me. I am from Maghull but have never, ever considered myself not to be from Liverpool. The term ’Knowsley’ starts and ends in politics. Nobody uses the term in everyday life. Many parts of ’Liverpool’ are much further away from the city centre than Kirkby but I assume people would readily accept these sites purely because they are inside a temporary political boundary. I say temporary because political boundaries change all the time. Who’s to say Kirkby will not be in ’Liverpool’ in twenty years time? Indeed, there is already talk of renaming ’Liverpool’, ’Sefton’ and ’Knowsley’ as a combined ’Greater Liverpool’. By all means complain about moving from spiritual homes and distance from the city centre but to base a grievance on a boundary created by a Tory government in the 70s (who in Liverpool ever listened to the Tories??) just seems desperate to me.
Barry Bragg
17   Posted 26/05/2007 at 17:56:29

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What are kenwright’s plans if we move to kirby? Is he using the move to facilitate a profitable exit for himself or does he intend to stay on as owner and chairman? If it is the former we should say no to the move but if he intends to stay then perhaps he is genuine about the lack of outside interest in the club and we should say yes.
18   Posted 26/05/2007 at 19:26:46

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staying at goodison i think everyone would agree be the perfect solution.BUT! unless some other big money venture comes in then the tesco deal seems like hobsons choice.however, we need kenwright and wyness to stand strong and not completely sell the club out (issues such as ownership,design of the stadium -which others have already noted).i feel that alot of evertonians who are now opposed to the kirkby move will change their mind when they are traveling to ’the old lady’ that is goodison in a few years time and pass the the gigantic behemoth that is the new will feel like we play in a 3rd division teams ground! i feel the way the team’s momentum has changed recently we are entering a window of opportunity for our beloved club.the new ground could help catapult us back into the top echelon of english,and european football.who will care about the jibes from red fans about not being in the city anymore when we can retort ,’yeah but we won the league again,and went further than you in europe’.i think if this is our only option we should take it.but dictate the terms along the way.
james davies
19   Posted 26/05/2007 at 20:04:40

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A lot of people have commented that it is only 4 miles to Kirkby , and as good Evertonians, we should follow our team anywhere.I am interested to know, if this would extend to building a new stadium in say, Warrington or Ellesmere Port ? Everton Football Club belongs in the city of Liverpool. End of . I believe people who do not live and work amongst the ever growing army of glory hunting RS, do not realise how damaging a move to Kirkby would be for the future generations of local Everton supporters . And I say that with the greatest respect, to all our fans, wherever they come from.
Gavin Ramejkis
20   Posted 26/05/2007 at 21:33:42

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A fine balanced article from Lyndon and some equally well argued responses. I’ve got to agree with J P McFarlane, if Kirby is such a good move why don’t they have a premier team there already in the RS? The figures just don’t add up, transport far weaker than current location, mystical figures of 60k stadia which has weekly been whittled down to 50k, if 50k or less what’s the point? Would this seriously provide a solid income stream beyond an initial novelty of new stadia to fall in line with other retail park shitholes, such as the Reebok, Madejski and JJB who struggle to fill now, the latter offering cut price deals to get bums on seats, well even a child could tell you 40k seats at £20ish a shot is a whole lot less than 40k at £25ish and don’t expect favours from Bill and Keith so more than likely £35-£40 a pop with as much space around you as you like.

I said in a mailbag posting some time ago that once it’s gone it’s gone and as the Old Lady is the only piece of silver Messrs Kenwright and Wyness have yet to asset strip from the club it doesn’t surprise me of their anxiousness to pull this one off for one last payday and "bonus". Keith actually had the gall to pronounce at a recent KEOIC meeting that "Everton would own the ground", would love to see how if as they claim they haven’t a pot to piss in.

Don’t forget Wyness was the mastermind behind nearly ruining the TV deal in Scotland with a vocal and well publicised hatred of the Auld Firm teams, a move motivated by profit aimed squarely at his own bulging pockets.

PS Great new look, been busy with heavy workload recently.
21   Posted 27/05/2007 at 00:02:07

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The so called big 4 are building new grounds for one reason only --the agenda for a football future that is as far removed from the current situation as one could imagine: one of Sky sponsored international club foootball. Everton will never be invited to be a part of this.
roy coyne
22   Posted 27/05/2007 at 00:02:47

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Great article but can I try to explain why I will not be going to Kirby to the morons who accuse us of not being true Evertonians My first visit to goodison was in 1958 my dad started taking me and I had my first season ticket in 1961 and from then till today I have missed less than 10 home games I also go to a fair amount of away games my first away game we got beat 10-4 at spurs but it did not deter me,but to suggest that I wont go to kirby because of the distance is insulting and frankly proves that these people have a weird way at looking at things its the dire consequences of us leaving the city,the future support base ok we might get more people from Kirby but at what cost the supporters of the future will go with the team of their city I have nothing against Kirby but honestly do not consider it part of my city yes I know a lot of them are scousers its just I want my team in my city selfish probably also how can any one not have reservations when the cost to Everton has not been published the last time I looked tesco were not santa claus. Now I think every one has the right to make there own mind up fair enough but I will feel betrayed by that liar of the phantom fortress Kenwright if this goes through which I expect it too
damjan chaim pekovic
23   Posted 27/05/2007 at 08:49:51

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Well done job in this article, the issue is so important for our club so that ones that will make decision on such a crucial metter should take in account folowing points also exept those mentioned in the article:
Goodison was build in 1892 and it is obvious that in present times club have to do something with stadium issue in order to keep it’s place in high class football.
New stadium would be very expencive from it’s financial side and problematic from it’s sportive aspect. I have interests in football for 30 years and I noticed that a new stadium allways had a negative impact (including big Arsenal) on club’s home results not only in England but allover Europe. So, even lack of 10% of our present standard home achievments can be tragical. From this point of view this kind of move should came only after we cosolidate our place like constant Europian competitents.
By choosing site outside of Liverpool city boundaries would have immediate consequences for club and it’s fan base. Presently, Everton enjoes image of "the People?s Club" oriented mainly to British and Irish players. Inside Liverpool we have more fans than others, that is not case outside Liverpol and abroad, too. Moving outside of Liverpool city boundaries would mean that Everton is looking for a new image like a global club in the global world and new generations born in Liverpool will find difficult to identify themself with the club. Outside Liverpool schoolchildren of today either support their local clubs or big Europian clubs like Manchester UTD, Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus, Milan, Inter, Real, Barcelona... In our present situation our fanbase could be damged seriously. I would also like if our fanbase can grow up world wide but club’s main incomes are from Liverpool based supporters, not from supporters like me that are situaded around the globe. Manchester UTD and Real Madrid do have global fanbases that contribute finacialy a lot to their clubs but they are results of decades of high achievements on pitch and huge financial investments and TV coverage, everthing that we lack at the moment.
Moving to Kirkby at the present moment would be unresponsible according to my opinion. Also, I think that Liverpool City Council should take an action to keep the club into the city because EFC promotes the city itself. I personaly have some natural feelings to cities situated in coutry I was born and in country that I live today. Liverpool is only city outside thoose countries that I have special feelings towards it. My visit to Liverpool was motivated only by one thing, to get on Goodison Park. So, I think that Liverpool City Council has an interest in keeping EFC in city.
According to my opinion, the club should contemplate most seriously redeveloping Goodison Park as only realistic solution at present.
chris roberts
24   Posted 27/05/2007 at 14:18:42

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On councils & fotball.

In the first place Liverpol City Council have been at best shambolic and at worst untruthful in dealing with EFC. Knowsley by contrast are busines like and streightforward. Secondly a question. What do West Ham, Leyton Orient, Spurs, Chelsea, Fulham, Crystal Palace, Brentford, Barnet and Charlton have in common? The answer is that none are London clubs or, at least weren’t until until local government was rejigged in the 1960s. Boundaries shift, loyalties are forever.

25   Posted 28/05/2007 at 08:41:26

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For Chris Roberts benefit the places he mentions are all villages and at some stage were incorperated with the city of London,(which happens to be only one square mile) and it was all called London. It happened in Liverpool with Everton, Woolton, and Garston etc. Kirkby, however, is a TOWN, and is NOT in Liverpool. To those people who worry about the red shite putting up a lovely new stadium, whether it be 10k or 200k I couldn't give a tinkers crap. I go to Goodison Park to watch to my mind a quality team amidst a bunch of fantastic supporters. The red shite are just glory hunting knobheads, let them do what they like, as long as we stay in the city they will never get me down. Only a move to Kirkby will do that!
George brooks
26   Posted 28/05/2007 at 12:55:53

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Somebody once arrived on merseyside and said "i never realised just how big a club EVERTON really are,they are truly THE PEOPLE’S CLUB".
Bill,Ken,before you make any decision,listen to the PEOPLE.We want a city location,i know its not that simple,but "they" seem to have done it,we’re the peoples club,not them,get it sorted.
John Lloyd
27   Posted 29/05/2007 at 12:46:19

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I am an evertoninan from Anfield, now Netherton. I walk or get a cab the ground, my opnion is no more valid that any fans who travel to game be it from out of town or out of country. But a point that everyone feels but hasnt voiced is that if we do move (whatever your opinions are!) the less of a move the better....for example moving from Goodison to Wally Hall Park could be the best thing to happen to this club (off-field) for 50 years or so! Moving to Kirkby or Speke would be one Hell of a change....provoking more debate across the board. If they can get Stanley Park the green light then why cant we have Walton Hall Park. Or is it still one rule for them an another for us? Prove me wrong Bradley......not just to get on Granada reports!
Simon Taylor
28   Posted 29/05/2007 at 18:22:56

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Excellent article Lyndon.

I hope when the issue of the groundmove reaches the vote (which I disagree with) - that all the factors are spelt out, in as much detail as possible.

The Kirkby option is financially the best option for the club - simple as. The land is free, the development costs, to be assisted by Tesco. We could find a site in the city, we could redevelop Goodison - but we can’t afford it - without mortgaging the future of the club for years to come & at the same time, if we went down that route the investment on players, would almost certainly be reduced.

Back to the vote issue - why are the club inviting it’s "customers" to decide on the most important BUSINESS decision the club has made in nearly 100 years??? How many businesses ask their customers to decide fundemantal stragegy???

We’re not in the best position to make this decision - we don’t know all the facts - & the danger is we’ll make a decision based on sentimentallity.

Bill & Wyness are the Chairman & CEO - they should be making the decision as to the future of the business (& like it or not EFC is a business) & do so in the knowledge that they have the long term future of the club in their hands.

A no vote - would set us back years - we have to do it IMO - if the stadium’s right (& that’s a big if) does it really matter that we’ll have to catch a bus 4 miles to Kirkby???? Not to me it doesn’t.

Eamonn Byrne
29   Posted 29/05/2007 at 18:58:40

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Excellant article Lyndon.

It has been suggested that the move to Kirkby will be debt free. If it truly is (and we are still waiting for full details) and all our dosh goes into the playing level then assuming the transport issue can be sorted I would suggest blues take it.

If however the grand plan of Kirkby back fires we should not sell our last asset, the land at Goodison. If ever we need plan B that is a caveat I hope shareholders will see the sense in. Specifically if we need to get back in the city.
robert carney
30   Posted 29/05/2007 at 18:05:08

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Fantastic article and well timed. A true debate without the distraction of the season. I hope Bill Kenwright does not forget we fans are still around close season.My main fears are in the clause of exclusivity granted to Tesco. If my fears are correct the decisions have already been made. If not this is a great forum to build and no doubt tie up with keioc campaign.People are just waking up to the enormity of these plans.Please look around the top two divisions to see the soul-less arenas when you have moved away your historic home/locations.I have nothing personally against the gowth Knowsley would gain from a move but why not this great city benefitting from the same.As we look around and see the cranes would it not bring joy to our hearts knowing Everton are a part of it.There is a political backdrop to the proposals with the NW devolopment agency and our local MP’s staying silent.Is the fat buffoon Kilfoyle still the elected member for Walton.It is hard to beleive. Imagine a man with the stature of Eric Heffer staying quiet as these proposals are taking place.I first visited Goodison park in the 1965/66 season against Blackpool who beat us 1-0 before the slide to oblivion. Do not let this happen to the blues.We need to move forward, but I am now of the believe it has to be in the city we have enjoyed for over a century.Let us move forward with haste but not stupidity.
31   Posted 30/05/2007 at 16:09:41

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I currently live a ten minute walk from Goodison Park and in many ways would be gutted if the ground moved but feel it may be best for the club. I would certainly prefer Kirkby to anywhere in south Liverpool due to transport/accessibility issues. The East Lancs Road and M57 are very good links. There is something symbolic too in the fact that many people were re-housed from L6 to Kirkby in some ways Everton is catching up with a ’home in the country’. I must admit though if Walton hall Park was a possibility that would be brilliant (could go the blue star after the match).
32   Posted 30/05/2007 at 15:59:42

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I have only ever visited Goodison once. I attended a game there last season purely because. It was the only major ground I had never been to but wanted to - I am from Sheffield. The place struck me as very different to any newer stadia. I described it to myself as old but well kept. And I liked the place so much I will make more occasional visits in the near future. And take any loyalty to the team that develops out of it forward.

I have visited many new stadia, including New Wembley. And I can tell you even the new national stadium has a sameness about it, though the view and legroom are terrific. However, it wasn’t just Goodison Park that I enjoyed. That blue shirt looked like something I could develop a belonging to. The pre-match show on the big screen also reminded me, like never before, what a great club Liverpool’s 1st professional football team are.

Inspiring as Goodison was, and will be again for a few years yet. There is no way the club can carry on playing in a ground where I am told 4,000 seats have a restricted view and a 40,000 capacity while once again challenging the very best of rivals - some closer than others. I tell the people shaping the club’s future please, please try and keep the club in it’s rightful place in a new stadium close to the heart of Liverpool. If not, please assure me the new place will have much better transport access, a better view, better legroom and something a little different is incorporated into the design.
james davies
33   Posted 30/05/2007 at 22:34:32

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’That blue shirt looked like something I could develop a belonging to.’ Dick from Sheffield , words fail me .
34   Posted 02/06/2007 at 11:16:31

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I enjoy going to the match.Not only the match itself,in fact I rarely,ney never enjoy the full 90 mins,but that’s by the by,(whatever that means),unless we are 3-0 up with only 10 mins to go.It’s the whole day.A few beers in the Top House,also a safe haven for away fans,then the walk to the ground,hearing our theme tune,realising we’re late as usual.How many Everton fans know that the tune is called "Johnny Todd",an old seafairing song,not z-cars.
Anyway,what I’m striving to say is,between 12 and 19 00,9 hours,the match takes up only a couple of these.It’s the whole day out.I’m looking forward to taking my little boy to the the match:chippies,pies,pubs,historic streets,people drawn to a shrine like in ’The Time Machine’,(havent seen the new version),but without,what are they called,merlocks.
I just dont want to park the car,watch the game,go home.End of.
The feasibility study by whatsisname,I think is viable.Stay where we are.It’s like that song "Don’t want to go to Kirkby,or Skelmesdale or Speke".
Marcus Dawson
35   Posted 07/06/2007 at 13:43:49

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Apologies if any of this has previously been posted on here, but as a lifelong blue now exiled to the Midlands I'm very concerned at what effect a ground move will have on the future of our club. I am of the opinion that the move out of the city is fuelled more by a desire to distance ourselves from LFC than anything else. As I stated, this is only my opinion, but I think that our current proximity to LFC is a key obstacle in the quest to attract new investment. I subscribe to the theory that the US investors in particular are motivated by the prospect of building large hotel/casino complexes, nothing else. They see huge profit potential here and football is merely a conduit. Given that LFC have now done a deal, there's no way anyone is going to come in for us while we live next door, there's not enough room in the market.

I'm not entirely sure where this argument is going, but looking at things selfishly I'd like to see Everton buck the trend, redevelop Goodison and set out to appeal to genuine supporters rather than dilute itself into a leisure 'brand'.

It may be naive, but I sense that we might actually fare better in the long run, with our traditions, genuine support and dignity in tact and the ability to make decisions based soley upon the needs of the team, club and supporters. Of course I could be wrong and it may trigger a terminal decline as we are cast adrift from the mainstream of the premiership, but if we are to jump on the bandwagon I fear we will have to move to a place where the sums start to add up.

Personally I think Goodison can be redeveloped and should be redeveloped, but I understand (I think) the motivation behind a move and I don't disagree with those who want us to move, I simply just don't want it. By the way, I wonder if Geoff McNulty will be sending Tommy Smith a get well card! I wish him well, but if my memoriy serves me I'm pretty sure he ended Geoff's career.

36   Posted 07/06/2007 at 16:03:03

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As an Everton fan living in the Midlands it would make it easier for travelling if the ground were moved closer to the Motorway system.
However, as I,ve been travelling up the M6, M64 and M57 for many many years (more than 30) it would be too much to miss the parking at Walton Hall with the walk to the ground soaking up the atmosphere. Then what about a pre-match beer in the Winslow. What about a sometimes warm pie and an always warm Chang beer in the ground. What about having to lean around a post occasionally to see the game. What about the walk back to the car with the crowd through the terraced back streets.
This is what football is all about - Save our Goodison.
I did live near the ground 40 years ago and was thrown into the "boys pen" and then graduated to the terraces.
If it’s down to a vote - put me down to stay at Goodison.
tim lloyd
37   Posted 09/06/2007 at 14:07:13

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One thing I do not understand with those who wish to remain in the
city. Where is the money coming from to build the stadium if a suitable site is found? I am sure we could have moved to various places but at all times, the stumbling block! We have no money to build a stadium without considerable help. What’s changed?
38   Posted 23/06/2007 at 02:54:31

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Marcus Dawson:

It was Jimmy "shithouse’ Case that ended Geoff Nulty’s career, and No to Kirkby...

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