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You know it makes sense!

By Karl  Masters :  30/05/2008 :  Comments (23) :
Some time ago there was an excellent piece on here by Trevor Skempton who clearly showed a Shared Stadium design that ticked the boxes with regard to identity, seat colours, offices, etc. Maybe Lyndon could show this again as the topic is once again in the news. My own personal view is that it is the only way that both clubs can actually afford to get the quality of stadium that both sets of fans want and deserve.

I am not a Merseysider, but have been an Evertonian for nearly 35 years and I understand the tribalism completely. However, let's look at some realities:

Liverpool is not a particularly big city in European terms with cities such as Valencia, Munich, Rotterdam, Lyon, Seville and Turin having larger populations and also, it has to be said,a much stronger economic base than Liverpool. Put simply (and in no way demeaningly) Liverpool is a relatively medium-sized and only modestly affluent city. However, due to over a century of tradition and sporting achievement, there are two sets of fans who are expecting this under-populated and financially unremarkable city to be able to come up with two state-of-the-art, world-class arenas. At the same time. Whilst maintaining top 5 (or better!) positions in the EPL and the squad investment that entails.

Of course, the reality is now that one Club will be hocked to the eyeballs by a pair of American chancers and nothing is being built, whilst the other club has had to get into bed with a ruthless big business who have decreed they have to uproot out of their city and play in a bland, unimaginative box because it suits THEIR business plan.

Any assistance from Local Authority, Government , EU grants etc has to be forgone in the main by both parties because it is a political hot potato that can lose votes if one project gets all the help.

Build a shared stadium in Stanley Park and you get the following:

Football played by both Clubs on the very ground football in the City originated. Tick the box for romantics and trditionalists.

There is a proven transport infrastructure that will benefit everybody. Tick one of the practical boxes.

Cost is shared. Risk is spread. Assistance will follow from Political bodies. Sponsors are queueing up for a world class venue. Tick the financial box.

The stadium can be of sufficient quality to be truly world class. Liverpool gets a facility that other similar-sized cities can only dream of. Tick the Prestige / Rebirth of the City box.

Liverpool leads where the likes of Manchester and Glasgow can never go. Better relations are slowly restored between fans of both clubs. Tick the Liverpool is different box.

Both existing stadiums are turned into Parkland via innovative landscaping and regenerative projects. The goal where Dixie Dean scored his 60th goal and the spot that Fairclough finished off St Etienne are not concreted over and built upon. Kids can still play footy on those spots. Tick the Green / Environmentally Friendly / Spiritual box.

And there are countless other benefits including increased revenues for both Clubs.

The only real sticking point is us ? or some of us ? who need to open their minds. Think medium to long term. In 40 years time, the move to a shared stadium would be as much a part of Merseyside Football history as John Houlding, Prince Rupert's Tower, The Kop, Graeme Sharp or Ian Rush.

I would also add that it is something both Clubs will need, and I include Liverpool in that as much as Everton, if they are to hang on financially and in terms of prestige to Manchester United (whose income and fanbase is the biggest in the world ), Chelsea who have a seemingly never ending cash pot from a multi-billionaire at their disposal, and Arsenal who have a London location and world class stadium to keep them competitive.

It's controversial, but it is the best way forward in my opinion. In times of credit crunches, brazenly self-serving owners who cannot agree on anything, seemingly impotent and disorganised Boards of Directors, you can only wonder if either Club will do justice to their fans without a shared scheme.

Like I stated earlier, Trevor Skempton's article covers a lot of detail and is in my opinion still worthy of consideration by all.

Reader Comments

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Dave Wilson
1   Posted 31/05/2008 at 06:54:36

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Good argument Karl

I’m a traditionalist and have always been dead against it, you dont say anything new, however you combine all the pluses of a shared stadium in a disturbingly convincing manner.
thought provoking stuff
But can were really share with them fuckers ?
Gavin Ramejkis
2   Posted 31/05/2008 at 07:12:14

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Without a pot to piss in financially we would never be 50% owners by raising sufficient capital for the project even with grants. The risk of future fall outs between owners of either side could have catastrophic consequences if we were not equal owners with the more powerful side capable of evicting us to make us homeless. The economics make sense but football isn’t all about economics (despite it needing to be if you follow the top four business acumen and subsequent spiralling success) it’s about passion and it would take a lot of work to rebuild bridges between both sides.
Derek Thomas
3   Posted 31/05/2008 at 07:37:51

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You are right about the actual state of the City, both in population and financial clout....100 yrs ago yes, but that was then and this is now.

You mention the need to hang on financially, to the Man U’s and London, plus the other big clubs in Europe.

3 quotations come to mind: ( pedants please pardon any mis quotes, the gist is the point )

( and no, I don’t want to get into a counter quotation battle either, so don’t bother )

1) Nothing is so inevitable as an idea whose time has come.

2) Nothing concentrates the mind as ones up coming execution.

And,

As to your point of hanging on financially...

3) If we don’t hang together we will assuredly hang separately.
Ray Roche
4   Posted 31/05/2008 at 08:37:31

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I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but if we have to share a stadium,it would have been fantastic to have had one on the Kings Dock.THAT was a missed opportinity for the CITY of Liverpool.
Neil Pearse
5   Posted 31/05/2008 at 08:55:29

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Thank you Karl. This idea makes so much sense, it makes you weep that we are not likely to take it. Both sides will bitterly regret not sharing in years to come.
Tony Williams
6   Posted 31/05/2008 at 09:59:07

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I like the idea of a shared stadium, I hate the idea of sharig my seat with a redshiyte, however I think Gavin’s point is the main reason why it will never come off.

We are not in the financial position to pay half and therefore if things go tits up they could effectively kick us out of "Goodisonfield" and we would habve nowhere to go and no pot to piss in.
Fergus McCarthy
7   Posted 31/05/2008 at 11:05:19

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"If you build it, they will come!"
Shared stadium..yes...with other sporst and other usage too. I lived in Toronto and saw the SkyDome used 400 times per year, including car shows and conventions, concerts, tennis, basketball, soccer Canadian football and, oh yes,,baseball!
Priority should be a football stadium so we are close to the pitch, but please put a retractable roof on it. Goodisonfield Ltd owned 50% by each club sharing the profits on "other use". The technology exists.
Neil Pearse
8   Posted 31/05/2008 at 11:22:13

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We cannot pay half, that is true. But of course there would be terms and conditions in the starting agreement such that Everton could not simply be evicted. No one would dream of having such a shared ground without such conditions in place, so if Liverpool decided to go for it they would know that they had to agree to this. So if is a goer at all, this is not a problem.
Albert Dock
9   Posted 31/05/2008 at 11:50:48

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If we ever do share a stadium with the darkside then I will invest heavily in the company that makes Dettol.
Kevin Tully
10   Posted 31/05/2008 at 15:19:20

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You don’t think for one minute that the board of Liverpool are going to help the team that may take away their C.L. gravy train do you? The turnover of E.F.C. is dwarfed by the R.S. and you would not want to increase the revenues of a bitter rival, it makes no sense to help your competitors for a saving on stadium costs. You wouldn’t dream of this in any other business. The Yanks are doing a nice job of things at present, so let the fuckers have £350m worth of debt, it might just ruin them when we get fourth next season !
Neil Quinn
11   Posted 31/05/2008 at 15:45:18

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Regardless of how it was set up, I’d always feel as though we were their tenants (assuming the shared stadium was Stanley Park).

I know it makes economical & logistical sense but I’d hate it nearly as much as I hate the thought of moving to Kirkby.
Karl Masters
12   Posted 31/05/2008 at 17:38:03

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Just to add a couple of things:

The Pitch would need to be one of the roll out under the stand ones they have in Gelsenkirchen ( Schalke ) to make it usable for possibly 60 games a season.

People saying we cannot pay half is maybe not so true. If we can find £78m ( and you know that will be £100m by the time it’s all over ) for Kirkby, then surely we can find it for this. I reckon anyway that we might only need a third as grants, council and Government assistance etc would maybe make up a third as well. £100m x 3 = £300m = CLASS STADIUM.

And who is to say we might not be able to find a bit more?

The argument makes sense for LFC too. £100m or so is well within their scope and would mean they could carry on buying up any South American winger, Spanish full back or over-rated French speaking African they liked ( ;) )

Of course, it takes an open mind on ALL sides for this to happen, but if we can’t re-build Goodison, then this is far better for all concerned. Everyone’s a winner, Baby!
Colin Clarkson
13   Posted 31/05/2008 at 21:07:07

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What about the capacity though?

LFC would demand at least 65,000, and were even talking about 80,000. We’d never fill this, and most games would only be 50 or 60% full. That many empty seats would look ridiculous.
Alan Kirwin
14   Posted 31/05/2008 at 20:50:22

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As an Evertonian of 44 years, and holding no candle whatsoever for the (current) LFC set-up, it is the single most obvious thing in the world for anyone with half a brain. Aside from entrenched bigotted drivel, I am yet to hear one single effective reason why this shoud not happen.

Here are two major clubs, currently 1/4 mile apart, sharing fans from the same areas & even the same families, both in debt, neither club making an operating profit, and both looking for a new & bigger state of the art arena that can be used all year round for multiple events.

And the solution is....build two of them! The very idea is insane. When all?s said & done it will be the fans who pay for everything. The new Merseyside Arena could house 70 - 75,000, in various coloured seats, and it could be 2nd only to new Wembley in size, prestige & facilities.

It could have a completely separate management company who?s sole objective would be to maintain it in top condition and exploit its huge marketing potential. And I would suggest the mere fact it was a joint & independent masterpiece would automatically make it more attractive to major productions, artists and events to guarantee its year-round commercial success, than one of two partisan & less prestigious venues.

It?s beyond sad that other major world cities can pull this kind of thing off, and yet it is scoffed at & dismissed in this country (and in such a melting pot as Liverpool) because "we are different". Bollocks. Like so many things in this country, it?s because so many people have their heads too far up their arses to be able to see properly.

It?s why it took 15 years for the UK to have a fast train link to the channel tunnel, whilst the French had it on opening day. It?s why the Germans, Dutch, Italians & others can build stupendous arenas that are shared by more than one team. It?s because in so many parts of the world the attitude can be summed up as "why not?", as opposed to "why?". Maybe there are just too many miserable, narrow-minded, short-sighted, biggoted fokkers in this country. It?s particularly sad that this is true in what has historically been the most dynamic, independent, culturally mixed & friendly city of all.

I don?t expect it to happen for the reasons offered, That doesn?t mean we shouldn?t try to introduce some common sense into the short-sighted bigotry.
Derek Thomas
15   Posted 01/06/2008 at 05:43:13

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With our record of innovation, both as a Football Club and a City. Why not lead the way again, 1st shared stadium, 1st with a retractable pitch AND a roof.

The all important seat colour question, I remember seeing some sort of multi hued fibre optic led type shit that would do the job, press for blue or red and for all I know have internet access for your phone while you are at it.

As a previous poster remarked, the shear illogicality of the whole situation beggars belief. Yes, I know that logic has no place on the field of dreams, but sometimes, for our own good (the old "this will hurt me more than it will hurt you" bollocks ) whether or not we like it, we have to be dragged kicking and screaming, via having our heads knocked together on the way into the real world, if only for the odd moment.

Sometimes, people can?t (won?t) see the bleedin obvious.

Try this test: find, if you can, a neutral, someone you can credit with a modicum of common sense, and explain the situation, that there are two Clubs in the same city, a mile or so apart, playing in the same competitions, that for various reasons, notwithstanding the world tettering on the brink of recession or worse, the spiraling cost of materials and labour, the high cost of credit etc etc etc.... who now want to build TWO new stadia, each of which will only get used turn about every other week, and lash out a sum well in excess or HALF A BILLION QUID for the pleasure of doing so!!!

In fact don?t bother if you don?t want to, just put your sensible head on and re read the paragraph above in the clear light of day.
Steve Beahan
16   Posted 01/06/2008 at 09:34:52

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Good article. I think with decision of this type, whatever the objective arguments either way, it comes down to a question of personal taste/gut reaction, call it what you may.

I don?t like the idea of a shared stadium but I think, when push comes to shove, I like the idea of Kirkby even less.
Bilbo Baggins
17   Posted 01/06/2008 at 09:55:11

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Just read LCC commissioned report from Cushman and Wakefield consultants, it is so daming of both Knowsley and Tesco, all you Yes voters start eating humble pie.
Back to Goodison, Wyness OUT.
Colin Fitzpatrick
18   Posted 01/06/2008 at 13:44:25

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Karl, perhaps a very appropriate article, cometh the moment cometh the plan! Trevor?s article certainly was thought provoking, his work, initiated by David Backhouse, raised some interesting possibilities. If a joint stadium were to work and prove acceptable to both sets of fans some essential prerequisites would need to be addressed.

Everton and Liverpool, at the moment, have fundamentally different requirements. Whilst in recent years, certainly in the premier league, both clubs appear closer than they have since the 1980?s, Liverpool, as a business, is more than twice the size of Everton primarily due to their astonishing trophy haul over the past 30 years that as a result attracts an enormous transient fan base to supplement their traditional local support. This sustained success and continued European presence has also enabled them to successfully develop their lucrative corporate revenue streams that are far in excess of Everton?s current ability. As unpalatable as these observations are to Evertonians they characterise just some of the basic facts surrounding the multiplicity of differences between both clubs that will dictate the design requirements and perhaps location of any potential shared facility.

Everton, at the head of the secondary tier in the premiership, require a stadium which will facilitate their assault on the so called ?Sky Four? which, through champions league participation and TV exposure, will enhance revenue generation and, if sustained, could lead to the on pitch success that Evertonians desire. With a current average gate of 37,000 a combination of improved facilities and a new stadium affect a forecast attendance of 50,000 could be achievable; if success on the pitch was sustained the need for adequate expansion on the site would be required in the future.

Liverpool?s intention of not only securing their position within the ?Sky Four? but taking commercial advantage of their massive out of town fanbase in order to fund their continued participation in the Champions league, service their existing debt and provide a team to challenge Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea in the very near future would indicate the need for a much larger facility. With a current average gate of 43,500 the same combination of improved facilities coupled with a new stadium affect would indicate that a forecast attendance of 65,000 could easily be achieved. A similar need for future development in capacity would need to be incorporated into the design.

What would be the target capacity of a stadium designed for club football use and additional games such as cup finals and internationals? Should the use of the stadium be limited to football?

Would it be possible to design a stadium to accommodate these requirements without leading to a loss of atmosphere and an inevitable downgrade in the matchgoing experience? Could engineers and architects use design and technology to partially address these problems? Could innovative commercial policies produce flexible pricing plans to accommodate the needs of existing and new fans? Football clubs need to bring back the families and young children to top class football; they are the matchgoing supporters of tomorrow. It?s a sobering thought that the average age a premiership matchgoing fan is forty-three.

If a design could be developed what are the other problems that would need to be addressed? How could the design of the facility accommodate and maintain the separate identities of one of the most legendary rivalries in the history of football? Could this be addressed through individual areas immediately outside the main stadium facility? Would it be feasible to include in these areas museums, restaurants, bars, cafes, leisure facilities and fan areas which were all themed to reflect a particular allegiance and provide a nod to the history of the clubs? Could technology be used, led lighting, video screens, electronic advertising hoardings etc to change the mood of the stadium at the flick of a switch?

How would you address the technical issue surrounding the potential use of the pitch four times in a given week? Would it be possible to translocate the existing surfaces at Goodison and Anfield to accommodate the fans emotional ties with the past? How could you rapidly adapt the stadium for non-footballing use during the football season?

What is the ideal location for a facility the size of which must surely accommodate the present and future aspirations of two of the leading clubs in top-flight football? Is Stanley Park a suitable location? At the moment the park is surrounded by residential areas, what would be the residents? reaction to a potential weekly footfall of 240,000 plus mid-week visitors to the facility? Perhaps that figure is too high? Over a week, Sunday to Saturday, an 80,000-seater stadium could see two sell-out weekend EPL games plus two midweek cup games at 50% capacity, if these were later rounds of the European cup for instance they could also be sell outs, then there?s the potential of non-footballing activities which would see the facility in use throughout the year. Could Stanley Park accommodate such a facility without additional use of existing green space? What improvements would need to be made to the transport infrastructure around Stanley Park? Is there a more suitable location available that offers a better transport infrastructure, parking and leisure facilities surrounding the existing city centre?

Whilst it?s clear that the scale of the questions that need to be addressed is immense and provides interesting debate, as with any proposed stadium facility the main problem is always finance.

Both clubs current plans are fraught with difficulties:

Everton are attempting to relocate to Kirkby. The financing is dependent on two main elements, a £52M cross subsidy provided by an enabling retail development and the generation of the clubs own financial contribution of £78M. All five neighbouring authorities and businesses with a commercial interest to protect, such as Grosvenor and St Modwen, are objecting to the Tesco planning application for the scheme. None are objecting to the stadium, the objections surround the size of the retail development that represents a massive departure from the previously agreed local, regional and national planning policies and as such the retail development is deemed inappropriate for a town the size of Kirkby. Everton?s £78M contribution will be derived from the sale of Goodison Park and Bellefield, a stadium naming rights deal and additional debt finance. Optimistic target figures on the first three would lead to a reliance on the debt finance element to reach the contribution figure.

Liverpool are experiencing an increased level of debt due to the current owners decision to transfer their personal loans, used to purchase the club and provide additional funding, to the clubs balance sheet. Their proposed move to Stanley Park was brokered as part of a regeneration package for the Anfield area and whilst the £25M work has commenced on the regeneration of the park the construction of the stadium, that has recently secured its third planning approval from the council, is yet to materialise. Uncharacteristically of Liverpool a war between the two owners and the management team has been played out in the media this season. This has distracted from the real issue surrounding the owner?s inability to raise the additional £300M debt finance for their new stadium.

In different ways Everton and Liverpool supporters are experiencing the effects of large outside business interests exercising control over their football clubs. Has the increase in business awareness been beneficial to both clubs and their fans? Should big business control these clubs or should fans band together to use and control outside business interests for the benefit of the fans as a whole? Perhaps some innovative thinking by supporters, politicians and the current custodians of the clubs could provide the answer?

For a joint stadium to become acceptable what would be the basic requirements to overcome the financing problems? Could an appropriately sized shared stadium generate sufficient revenue from a combination of high-end corporate organisations and fans taking out ten-year debentures to facilitate its construction? Could fans of both clubs accept the possibility of neither club owning the stadium facility but simply leasing the facility from ?Stadco? meaning that no additional debt would be added to either club? As a destination it would be the best stadium in Europe with more top class football than any other location. With the right location additional enabling funds would become available from the hotel and leisure industry in addition to possible funding from local or central government, again the question surrounding the suitability of Stanley Park raises it?s head, but where else could be deemed appropriate for such a large and prestigious development?

It would be interesting to obtain a consensus on the subject of a shared stadium, Everton and Liverpool supporters may have different views now but times they are a changin?. Maybe for Evertonians the Kirkby project will sale through planning, not get called in and they will assemble their £78M share with no further problems. Maybe for Liverpool supporters Tom Hicks will take over control or DIC will invest £400M in the new stadium and the future will be assured. These may work out but as ever this saga is set to run and run.

Colin Fitzpatrick
Karl Masters
19   Posted 01/06/2008 at 13:52:17

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A million and one ( seemingly! ) questions, Colin and no easy answers. However, with regard to just a few of the stand out points you are making:

The design is an intrinsic part of the project working and you are right about different needs and priorities. If you were to have a design that incorporated 2 designated stands for each club ( side and behind one goal ) you could tailor each one to each club?s needs. For example, putting more corporate into the Liverpool side and maybe a Kop style end whereas the Everton stands would maybe have a bit less corporate and a two tier end stand with an overhanging balcony. This does not mean any area would be unused by either club on matchday, save perhaps for some corporate facilities that were clearly identifiable to each club such as a Dixie Dean Lounge or a Bill Shankly Bar. I would also say that if an upper third tier of seats was incorporated on either side, holding maybe 10,000 seats on each side, these areas could be left totally unused on occasions where crowds were going to be lower. Imagine a packed Goodison with an empty Top Balcony. Not such a great loss to the atmosphere I would suggest. Obviously these areas would not have season tickets unless holders were prepared to be re-seated.

As for the cost, I don?t think anybody knows all the answers, but waht has been particularly disappointing for fans like myself is that Everton and Liverpool Directors just don?t seem to have held up any innovative ideas and asked the world in general, "What do you think of this? Would you be prepared to invest in or support this idea?" A lack of imagination that has left us with the current undesirable situation.

Mark Browne
20   Posted 01/06/2008 at 14:38:28

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All great projects require great visionaries. Where are those visionaries today? Does anybody think that the current leaders; Kenwright at Everton, Hicks & Gillet at Liverpool, have enough bottle to look to the future and map out something that at present is unpalateable among a number of fans. Let me state here and now that I think a shared stadium is the way forward, and have thought this when both teams were winning trophies in the ?80s.

Kenwright couldn?t even make a decision regarding Kirkby, he passed the buck the the fans, but that is for another thread. The LFC leaders, Hicks & GIllet, once bosom buddies, cannot bear to be in the same room as each other, so it is said. Where are the leaders that can put a plan of this size and importance out in the local public domain, letting it be known that it is a serious option. Once the public has been brought on board, and the fans, skeptical at best, angry at worst, then the technical and financial side can be seriously looked at.

At the end of the day Liverpool is the birthplace of many things, and home of many, it is currently the home of two major football teams, long may this continue, and my hope for a true visionary bears fruit.
Marc Williams
21   Posted 01/06/2008 at 18:37:42

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I’m really pleased with the constuctive & thoughtful comments posted in response to this article.
With the current economics of football a shared stadium on Stanley park ( with a Goodison end & an Anfield end ) along the lines of the shared Italian stadia makes sense.
Don’t get me wrong I hate the Redshite but if run/ marketed correctley by an independent company the revenue from this could see both teams challenging each other over the top 2 or 3 places on a regular bases.
We would not have to find half the money as their could possibly be a number of financial inputs based on other interests & uses for what would be a truely world class venue.
But Mark Browne is right we need people with vision to see what this could acheive for the city & that requires real political leadership to make this a real option.
The received wisdom is that LFC are not interested ( which is currently true ) & their fans will take the piss out of our perceived ’begging’ on this subject and that we would have play second fiddle.
Given their clubs level of debt and just how angry they are with their American owners I really think many could come around to this idea.
If their was a grass roots swell of support for a joint superstadium then a more credible political or business voice than councillor Bradley may take a lead.
Gaylord Suchard
22   Posted 02/06/2008 at 09:45:27

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Surely it make sense to have an 80,000+ state-of-the-art stadiium in Liverpool that belongs to the city and accordingly both city teams get to play there each fortnight? We could get world class 20-20 cricket, host high profile rugby games and World Cup qualifiers for our national teams maybe Wales and England. I'm talking about a world class facility that could host Commonwealth games events or Olympics. FFS why does everything have to go down south?

Both clubs need to take their heads out of the sand and open their eyes to the possibility of a stadium that trangresses the rivalry of red and blue and brings back that blue and red unity we have unfortunately let slip. One stadium, two teams. Who cares if the city of Liverpool has a world class facility and both teams have sucess playing there. Everton a great deal more.

Thomas Halliwell
23   Posted 04/06/2008 at 23:22:17

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I don?t understand why the groundshare idea doesn?t now seem like the blindingly obvious answer? Both teams are struggling to finance a move of their own, surely sharing would dramatically cut the cost? A 70,000 seater stadium (perhaps with terracing (another debate for another day)) for the city of Liverpool and its two clubs, with concerts midweek, basketball games, conferences, boxing... the lot. It could be a money making machine for both clubs.

I think both clubs are negative towards the concept because they don?t want to seen to be helping benefit a rival, even if it kills them. Everton don?t want them to get too much further ahead, and they don?t want us to catch them up. This, if true, is ridiculous as both clubs can benefit massively.

A slightly larger state-of-the art ?Kings Dock standard? stadium exactly on the space this new Anfield isn?t being built would be the spot. A Tesco/partner could build on existing Goodison Park and Anfield could be a multi-storey car park for the new stadium.

A Fifa five star rated football stadium for the city. Something both teams and the citizens of Liverpool can use and appreciate. I think a bit more appreciation on both sides of Stanley Park towards each other would be a step in the right direction if a groundshare would ever be possible.

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