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Keep Your Friends Close And Your Enemies Closer?

By Richard Pike :  28/05/2008 :  Comments (17) :

The groundshare idea is back on the radar then, thanks to Liverpool City Council. I had thought and hoped we'd heard the end of it once our lovable neighbours got their new stadium started. But they haven't, and probably aren't going to any time soon given their delicate ownership situation (which could also provide me with material, but that's a separate matter). So, inevitably I suppose, the cohabitation question's being asked again.

Of course it makes economic sense to build and operate one stadium instead of two, even Arsene Wenger isn't blind enough to miss that, but football and economic sense are at best vague acquaintances and there's nothing else about the groundshare concept that sits right with me. Just because it works in Milan doesn't mean it will on Merseyside, and actually my understanding is it doesn't anyway. The stadium is owned by the city rather than either of the clubs, and neither Milan nor Inter is totally happy with the arrangement. It exists now because it has already done so for 50-odd years, and whatever they really think of it the clubs and their fans are habituated to it. It would take a hell of a lot of getting used to for Everton and Liverpool fans. Too much, I believe.

Even if that could be achieved, what of the stadium itself? Never mind the (valid) trivialities like what colour the seats would be, who would own it and run it? Only an equal stake would be acceptable to either club, otherwise one becomes somewhat beholden to the other. Given that they have far more money than we do, intra-American squabbles and mysterious Russian billionaires notwithstanding, as things stand there's only one way round that could possibly happen and it's a situation that I have some serious misgivings about. Even an equal split causes me concern: the mere perception, let alone the possible reality, of us clinging onto their coat-tails to get ourselves a share of a new stadium can only be damaging to the club's image, and that's what I believe would be the generally-held outsider's view of any groundshare with them where we weren't the major partner. And we all know that's never going to happen.

No, as far as I'm concerned let them have their new stadium, if they ever get it built, all to themselves. It means we get to keep ours and any new one we build to ourselves too, along with our independence from them. Even if that means Kirkby; the lesser of the two evils in my eyes, not that it is a palatable solution either, and I have my doubts now that it will go ahead - but again, that's a separate issue. Now that we appear to be getting into a position to challenge their Big Four status we need to be establishing ourselves as a separate and rival club, not getting into bed with them. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer? No, thanks.

Reader Comments

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Ciarán McGlone
1   Posted 28/05/2008 at 16:09:46

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I cannot for the life of me see one good reason why it should not happen..other than the one you’ve highlighted - seat colour!
Ed Fitzgerald
2   Posted 28/05/2008 at 17:10:38

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I suspect that the current talk of a ground share is just talk and will never happen. It is however indicative of how the City of Liverpool can pass up an opportunity to create a world class arena that will serve all its citizens. As you said it is the logical choice economically for both clubs and would represent a fantastic marketing opportunity for both clubs and the city itself. You question us retaining our identity in a shared ground this appears to have been no problem for clubs who have shared or who still share grounds.
The current levels of bitterness that exist between SOME Evertonians and Liverpool fans are nothing to be proud of. Of course any such move would require a leap of imagination and vision from all parties and that is extremely unlikely to happen. I do believe that moving to Kirkby will cause us far more damage than sharing a ground in the City ever would.
steve jones
3   Posted 28/05/2008 at 22:32:04

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The question of retained identity is a very important one and it matters little whether others have retained their identity or not. Perception is reality and the perception for many fans, of both teams, is that this would be bad for the image of their club.

On a strictly objective, non-emotional, note there is an issue of pitch availability with groundshare especially with two teams that can be expected to be playing premiership, european and domestic cup football through the course of a season. The natural example of this is the San Siro. Last seasons delay to the Liverpool vs Milan CL match and the repeated claims of poor pitch quality at the San Siro being indicative of the problem we could be letting ourselves in for by going down this route.

Groundshare pleases, in the main, the accountants and Liverpool City Council. These are people who should be serving the game of football and its local environment NOT driving it.

I realise that its a subjective view but I honestly do not believe that Evertons identity is better protected in a joint ground with our most heartfelt rivals than it would be in our own ground a few miles outside of town. Our identity as a ’Liverpool’ club may be diminished to those living local, but, the greater majority would not even understand the distinction that Kirkby wasn’t in Liverpool!.

Alisdair Denny
4   Posted 29/05/2008 at 05:44:12

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Every discussion about a shared stadium always has the "issue" of seat colours brought up. Anyone who has done painting in primary one would be able to tell you that blue + red = purple. So why not just make all the seats purple, or even white, or black, or brown, or whatever.
I can really only see one reason not to commit to a groundshare - money. If we share a stadium, Liverpool don’t need to raise as much money to build it. I would rather see them struggle to build a 400M stadium on their own than us help them by paying 50%
Ed Fitzgerald
5   Posted 29/05/2008 at 07:56:23

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I agree that identity is important I just arrive at a different conclusion to you. Do AC Milan, Inter suffer from an identity crisis as a result of ground sharing.

The Allianz arena hosts both Munich
1860 and Bayern and the ground changes colour to suit! No lets move to a retail park outside the City where we have been resident for 129 years to protect our identity! Everton belong in the City of Liverpool.
Richard Pike
6   Posted 29/05/2008 at 08:23:26

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Ed, Milan and Inter don’t suffer from lack of identity due to their ground-share because they’ve been sharing it since the 1950’s and everybody within Milan, Italy, Europe and the rest of the world is used to it. Or maybe they do - watch a Milan derby on TV and tell me which is the home team - but we can’t know for the same reason; very few people have ever seen them when they didn’t share. It’s impossible to judge how they would be percieved if they had played their home games at different places all that time. They haven’t; Everton and Liverpool have. Ask yourself what you’d think if two clubs, one with lots of wealth behind it and one searching down the back of the sofa for loose change, suddenly moved in together. Who’s wearing the trousers in that relationship?

Munich is a different scenario, 1860 are very much the junior club in the city and it actually doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to share a stadium so oversized for their needs. Remember too that the Allianz Arena was built for the 2006 world cup, probably with government financial assistance. Costly gimmicks like a colour-changing exterior are justifiable when there’s a huge global show to be put on.

And, compared to other components of the whole groundshare issue it’s trivial but Alisdair, seriously - does anyone like the idea of arriving for an Everton home game at a stadium where the seats aren’t blue?
Mike Allison
7   Posted 29/05/2008 at 11:14:04

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Seat covers? A big ’Everton’ and the club badge on the outside of the stadium? There are some very trivial ’non-problems’ being discussed here. The major issue is the pitch, and I suggest a somewhat bizarre solution- have two. There is a ground in Holland, hopefully someone can tell me where (Groningen, Nijmegen, Arnhem?), that was built with the pitch on a movable platform that could be moved outside the stadium when it wasn’t being used. This means it gets the right amount of light and isn’t trampled on during the concerts that are held there. I’ve no idea how well this is considered to have worked, but if we had a pitch each that could do this, I’m sure something could be worked out.
Mike Allison
8   Posted 29/05/2008 at 11:21:38

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This is the one I was talking about, in Arnhem, though I’m still not sure exactly how it works:
Dave Street
9   Posted 29/05/2008 at 11:23:13

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This groundshare opportunity would be fantastic for Everton, I agree with some of the above comments, I can’t quite understand why there is so much objection from the Blue side. Everyone is complaining about leaving the city, well surely this is the best option.

People need to be open minded to change, yes, half the seats would be painted red, but so what, it would be a stadium that we could only dream of on our own and one that the city of Liverpool could be proud of.

Ironically I think it would be our best chance to narrow the gap with the RS, so I doubt they would agree to it, but from a Blue point of view we cannot object.
Kevin Gillen
10   Posted 29/05/2008 at 11:30:47

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I am for a groundshare. It would unite the people of Liverpool, something much needed and make economic and environmental sense.
Dave Street
11   Posted 29/05/2008 at 12:03:03

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Agree with Kevin as well. If the best objections surround what colour seats we all sit on then there’s no help for us.

Yes I like most of you grew up not wanting to wear anything, touch anything red, but for god sake we have to grow up, this makes sense for Everton, someone give me good reasons why this won’t work and I will listen?
Shaun Tighe
12   Posted 29/05/2008 at 12:07:38

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Against groundshare .Who wants an
r. s. backside on his season tickets seat. Also who gets that seat for derby matches, what about cup clashes against them?
Christine Foster
13   Posted 29/05/2008 at 12:52:37

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My head says yep, good sound common sense, my heart says, not on your life. Its that tribal thing again, mixed marriage and all that.. the orange and green..chalk and cheese.. Somehow we just don;t mix well.
Gary Creaney
14   Posted 29/05/2008 at 13:08:24

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No way!!!!
No groundshare, no Kirkby. We need to redevelop goodison or develop new within the city.
I couldn’t stand the thought of being associated with the RS anymore so than we already are. I want nothing to do with them. The thought of that stupid anthem of theirs ringing through our stadium is stomach churning.

PS Shaun I know you????
ron leith
15   Posted 29/05/2008 at 19:55:19

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A groundshare is a no brainer. Hence why most supporters can’t understand the logic. Putting intelligence to one side the new LFC ground is 61,000 seats large. We have a proposed 50,000 seats so there is a disparity. Us Evertonians should rise to the challenge and see if we can fill 61,000 seats each week. If we are content with 50,000 then I think we will be content with being 5th and not in the top 4. Aim high its better than aiming low and missing.
Jay Harris
16   Posted 30/05/2008 at 16:42:19

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good point re season ticket seats but I guess home team gets preference.
Shaun Tighe
17   Posted 19/07/2008 at 14:07:12

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Gary Creaney, I don't know I was at St Edwards in West Derby, I worked in St John's Market 'til 1986, I had a pub and now live in Tenerife. Google me for email...

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