Now, I didn?t request the publication, have no affiliation with the industry sector and couldn?t understand why the publishers had gone to all the trouble of sending me a very expensive glossy magazine. It was about to go the same way as the rest of the junk mail when I saw on the front page the now infamous graphic image of the Tesco Dome.
That got my attention and off came the wrapper. Inside was a 10-page leader article entitled ?True Blue? by feature writer Paul Haines who ?delves into the difficult decisions being faced by Everton FC in their quest for a new stadium?.
I?ll get on to the contents shortly but my first thought was that Everton have either given or sold their season ticket database to this publication, because randomly sending expensive construction magazines to people that don?t want them doesn?t make a great deal of business sense on the part of the publishers. Now, being an Evertonian of over 40 years I love a conspiracy theory and I convinced myself that this was an attempt by the club to communicate a positive message to the core support ahead of the upcoming public enquiry.
After a day or two, my "grassy knoll" theory was looking a little shaky because if I?m right then 20-odd thousand others will have also received it and I would have expected a more willing contributor than me to have raised the issue by now. So perhaps I?m wrong and they got my details from somewhere else and I?m the privileged recipient of an expensive magazine that just happened to have a feature about my team in it. Either way, it was an interesting read on a number of levels and thought that it was worth sharing.
Before going to much further, I have read pretty much everything I can on the Kirkby issue, most of it on this site, and nailing my colours to the mast, I am totally opposed to the move. I also know a lot of you are sick to the back teeth of the issue and don?t want to read another article dragging up the same old chestnuts. At least it?s vaguely topical with the enquiry starting next week... I just hope that it doesn?t polarise us all as most articles on this subject inevitably do. Consider it information sharing with the odd bit of partisan comment from the contributor.
Whilst there weren?t 10 pages of narrative ? lots of graphic images of the new stadium and a couple of full-page ads broke it up ? I did learn a few things. As you would expect from a magazine that makes it?s living promoting new stadia ?worldwide? it laid out a persuasive case in favour of the move and highlighted all the deficiencies of Goodison Park, ?despite it?s rich history, Goodison Park's status has fallen steadily over the past 30 years? restricted views? inability to generate increased revenues?? et al.
I was very interested to read the extensive quotes attributed to our acting CEO Robert Elstone and Alan Bowen, who I?ve not heard quoted before but has the title of ?Head of Stadium Operations?. Apart from the in-house propaganda pre-vote, this is the most comment I have read from the Club on the matter. It was Wyness-esque rhetoric but nonetheless interesting, set in the context of the article in which the writer, after laying out the background, posed the question:
?If the Kirkby project does become unviable for Everton, then where would that leave the club??
To get to the question, the preceding commentary hadn?t really addressed the very real possibility that it will be thrown out because it contravenes the planning regulations and will have a detrimental impact on adjacent economies, more that any delay will render the project uneconomical.
Apparently it?s a 90-week building project and the club will be 12 months behind schedule if the project gets the go ahead in spring 2009. The cost of the delay as quoted by Alan Bowen ranges between £9m and £14m. ?We are only committed to a certain level of financial outlay on the stadium. Once we exceed that amount, it becomes unworkable for us?. He doesn?t say what that financial walk-away point is, however. Last I heard we were in for £78m ? does that include the cost of the delay or is Tesco picking up the tab for that?
At the risk of taking us off at a tangent too far, clearly a quicker-than-expected public enquiry has been beneficial for the club and will provide certainty to all concerned by spring next year, which is no bad thing. Whilst personally I hope the inquiry kills it completely, let?s say it doesn?t and it receives the green light. If so, will the economic recession, set to last into 2010, be beneficial or detrimental to the project? Since the project was called in, interest rates are lower, sterling has weakened, the construction sector is in severe contraction and land prices are falling. So, is it fiscally prudent against this economic outlook to spend £78m+ on a new stadium?
Most observers believe attendances and corporate entertainment/sponsorship has maxed out, certainly in the short-term economic cycle. Considering our inability to sell out Goodison for the two most attractive fixtures of the season, filling a 50k stadium is questionable and I?ve never bought the argument that there is a host of lucrative corporate clients waiting in the wings to entertain customers at Everton. We?re not exactly a fashionable corporate attraction; remember in our halcyon days of the Eighties we were sponsored by a cooked meats firm in New Brighton! (I know it was pre-Sky so it doesn?t count). TV revenue should actually hold up with continued robust demand from the Middle and Far East markets but as we all know, they are only interested in the usual suspects... so we will get our slice of this, new stadium or not. End of digression, back to the question.
The 3 options discussed were:
- Option 1: Redevelopment of the stadium on the existing footprint.
This was rejected out of hand by our head of stadium operations. Building it to Uefa regulations would reduce the capacity to 35k and we?d need to ground share for 2 years. ?(the cost)?is mammoth in comparison to what we are getting at Kirkby?.
- Option 2: A newly built stadium on an expanded footprint.
This would require closing and re-siting Gwladys Street school, acquiring 98 houses on Muriel and Diana Streets, together with the garage on the corner of Gwladys Street, which strangely got a mention. We would also be playing on a three-sided Goodison whilst the redevelopment took place. (Something we did in the nineties when we built the Park End.) This option was also rejected.
While the plan sounds feasible (interesting concession) the costs to the club are in stark contrast to those of the Kirkby project, Elstone said ??we would lose £3m a year and it would be a phenomenally expensive development at an estimated £230m excluding land acquisition? Where did that estimate come from?
- Option 3: Utilising the funds currently available for Kirkby to develop the current stadium.
This is the cheapest alternative but apparently still poses huge problems for the club. The quoted opposition to this appears to be the weakest. Alan Bowen this time ?You have to demolish one of the existing stands and begin building work while you are still in the football season?.. you lose income from the 10k or so seats while you are rebuilding?. The article focussed on redeveloping Bullens Road, which would increase capacity to 44k but ??a basic stand would be £50m, if we want to put hospitality in it will cost £71m? said Elstone. Does anyone know how he has got to these figures?
So, going in to the public enquiry, not surprisingly, the club are still hell bent on Plan A, because there is no Plan B. Wyness may have gone but his legacy lives on with the acting CEO. At the risk of going over old ground, there are contributors a lot closer to the fundamentals of this issue than I am and it would be interesting to know if the figures quoted by the club's spokesmen stand scrutiny.
I told myself that I wouldn?t get involved in the stadium debate; damn the post man and damn the mailing list that PanStadia got my name from. Here?s to an open and transparent public enquiry.
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1 Posted 14/11/2008 at 23:11:36
Good question, he obviously DIDN’T get those figures of £71M to build a stand in Walton from the same catalogue that quoted £99M to build a Stadium in Kirkby.
I know it’s in the developing world and all that, but is labour really that much cheaper on the other side of the M57? :D
2 Posted 15/11/2008 at 00:35:52
Good article by yourself though, David. COME ON YOU BLUES
3 Posted 15/11/2008 at 00:42:52
4 Posted 15/11/2008 at 03:31:05
Why the Bullens first, the biggest bang for our buck is to do the Park End first.
5 Posted 15/11/2008 at 03:50:48
I?ve heard it bandied about that we can put another tier in the Park end during close season for about £10 -15 million giving us an additional 8,000 seats.
That, for me anyway, is the optimum capacity for right now and would enable us to offer the restricted view seats cheap or to away supporters.
It would also put us about 4th place in stadium capacity in the prem after Arsenal, Man Utd and Newcastle.
6 Posted 15/11/2008 at 06:53:56
Or for that matter why should I trust anyone who has ?nailed his colours to the mast??
7 Posted 15/11/2008 at 07:53:05
8 Posted 15/11/2008 at 10:44:33
I know some loud voices keep going on about it but the whole site is in the wrong area, crammed into terraced streets with no parking, no amenities and little going for it other than its history ? and you win nothing on history alone. The same old people will trot out some very dubious plans that give scant regard to new planning regulations and H&S issues.
Let's all face facts ? we have to move from GP ? the real issue is where?
9 Posted 15/11/2008 at 11:22:36
Firstly the council is just as full of Blues, the school is already under scrutiny as part of a city-wide review and is under threat. It was the club who fucked up over the Kings Dock, not the council. Don't blame others, blame BK; some of us want to say it was not the club's fault but it was.
Let's be realistic, any move at the moment will be nonsense given the current financial situation. The logical decision would be to wait or consider a ground share on Stanley Park. Where is that Jim? Exactly the same district as Goodison.
10 Posted 15/11/2008 at 19:23:24
11 Posted 15/11/2008 at 19:10:33
The footprint is not too small: "Clearly it?s possible to lift the stadium design for Kirkby (or one like it) and drop it onto Goodison or the loop site" - Sir Terry Leahy, An Open Letter to Evertonians, 11th August 2007.
Buying the garage/houses behind Bullens Road is not impossible and in fact has not even been investigated by the club. The only time anyone did a survey of the owners/occupiers of those houses was GfE >10 years ago. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Neither have the club engaged with the business ? KEIOC and LCC have and also got a positive response.
The school is not now, and never has been, a problem. They would actually be in favour if the scheme involved rebuilding the school as a single 2-storey building and use of some of the stadium facilities on non-matchdays... and that?s assuming the school stays open. As Ed pointed out, it is part of an ongoing review of primary school requirements by the council and may actually be closed anyway.
All those Blues on the City Council (including the leader of the council) would love to engage with the club and other partners to work on redevelopment or another scheme closer to the city centre. And with our cousins having been gifted Stanley Park, it would be politically very difficult to block a much smaller scheme for Everton.
I know some loud voices keep going on about how the whole site is in the wrong area, crammed into terraced streets with no parking, no amenities and little going for it other than its history, but they never seem to explain why those factors have not prevented LFC developing and profiting from Anfield over the last 100 years (and now in the process of building a super stadium on our doorstep).
The same old people will trot out some very dubious references to new planning regulations and H&S issues. Although they never seem to provide any evidence of how these would impact redevelopment, or take notice when they are dismissed by the very people who enforce/write the relevent legislation/guides.
Let?s all face facts ? we have to either redevelop or move from GP ? the real issue is who is looking harder at the options... Everton or Evertonians?
12 Posted 15/11/2008 at 20:26:33
I have read about and looked at the footprint plans by KSS which have been painstakingly put together by one of their office juniors before making the morning coffee. I have done more detailed plans of my own using the same Google Earth pictures that they have. Depending on height restrictions, between 48 and 52 thousand can comfortably fit onto the Goodison Park site. Where are the design renderings like those for the DK propaganda which they are so keen to promote ? and just where do they get these fanciful costings from ? I wish I could have been at the KEIOC presentation today to hear Tom Hughes and Trevor Skempton. I hope they will publish their ideas soon.
13 Posted 15/11/2008 at 22:16:14
14 Posted 16/11/2008 at 00:45:02
I have never understood, but am prepared to stand corrected, where the extra thousands to fill Kirkby are going to come from. Particularily as there are current season ticket holders ,and I know of a few, who state categorically that they will never set foot there.
In addition, in the current climate, it seems to me that the market for conference centres and non-footballing revenue is disappearing.
Now, with contractors crying out for work, would seem to be the time for a phased and low-key development of Goodison Park.
15 Posted 16/11/2008 at 01:33:04
16 Posted 16/11/2008 at 11:53:29
Build a structurally separate extension behind the Bullens Road Stand. One row of corporate boxes and 40 or 50 rows of seats. Not a third level but a backward extension of the current Upper Bullens.
Beneath this new structure could be several floors of parking, offices, apartments, or pretty much anything.
A great big new roof can go over the top of everything, old and new. The current roof can remain in place during construction of the extension, then be removed to unveil the new masterpiece.
We get to keep the stand that saw Dixie, while gaining all the money-making and people capacity we need.
17 Posted 16/11/2008 at 12:57:39
18 Posted 17/11/2008 at 12:29:19
19 Posted 17/11/2008 at 18:32:41
Our attendances are lower than usual at the moment because of all of the reasons which are stated by many fans, not least, money being tight, poor entertainment value and poor facilities. I have stated in previous posts that we should have the ambition to build a larger capacity stadium to cater for events that we may host in the future. I say that because I feel strongly that we should not fall into the trap of focusing solely on the here and now, but we should take into account the current state of world finance and the clubs current position and state of affairs (directorship) and think beyond them.
I come from a time when EFC had been written off as a footballing entity and I watched them win the FA Cup, two League championships a European Cup Winners Cup, another FA Cup and reach other finals and semi finals. I am one of those fans who just can't give up on the thought that we will be great again ? and when we are, I want us to have the stadium to host our greatness.
Our stadium as it is, offers very poor facilities and mostly terrible views on cramped uncomfortable seats. Despite what I say about building a huge stadium in Stanley Park or sharing a stadium with Liverpool, I would actually be more than happy to have a smaller modern stadium, without any restricted views and the all important corporate facilities. They can have all of these things at Goodison Park, but for some fucked up reason, our board don't want it to happen, or two people in particular don't want it to happen. Those two people hold all of the trump cards. Those people control the future of EFC and all we can do is offer opinion, better ideas and resistance.
20 Posted 17/11/2008 at 23:52:38
Ergo ... it can easily be done.
Then he got new stadiumitis and sold Duncan Ferguson. The rest is history, if you know it.
21 Posted 18/11/2008 at 00:19:16
22 Posted 18/11/2008 at 05:32:23
23 Posted 18/11/2008 at 09:33:58
One point I'd like to make is that while our current capacity may be 40k, how many of those seats are actually worth the money? 25-30k. With the current state of Goodison, there are thousands of seats that are just plain awful in terms of view.
My point is I suspect attendances would rise if 40-45k seats had decent views.
Just a thought anyway!
24 Posted 18/11/2008 at 10:38:44
For a match against the Boro, who are not really an exciting team with famous star players, you can imagine people not willing to fork out the money if the match can be seen in a comfy warm pub on a big screen or on the couch at home.
Add to that that quite a few opponents don?t sell out their away-end contingent of tickets and you?re easily in the low 30k-attendances. If you ask me, for the mid-table games as these that is the ?natural? maximum as long as we?re not winning the league. If Goodison had 40k of unobstructed, reasonably comfortable seats and the away end would be full every match, I?m pretty sure we would reach close to 38k or more in these matches.
By the way, I didn?t see the match as I was in Athens, did Boro take a lot of away-support with them?
25 Posted 18/11/2008 at 14:25:08
Surely with a larger capacity and better corporate facilities, Goodison could attract more events, eg concerts etc, and EFC would surely benefit from the revenue instead of Knowsley Council in the case of DK.
Old Trafford has been developed slowly season by season to the point that it is now the best stadium outside of Wembley. It has a far superior atmosphere to the soulless Eastlands and United benefit from the corporate events held in the stadium, as it is owned by MUFC.
Old Trafford has achieved 76,000 seats roughly from four stands based in the same position as at Goodison although no more than 50,000 would be needed at Goodison. Eastlands, although an impressive construction, does not have the character that Old Trafford has and this is purely down to architecture ? old stadiums are unique.
Clearly I know Goodison is a long way behind Old Trafford and EFC are light-years behind MUFC in money terms but the model is the same. Sensitive careful rebuilding, increase capacity, increase revenue whilst still retaining character and more importantly ownership. Goodison is surely an option with slow development rather than throw our history away. What's the rush!
26 Posted 18/11/2008 at 15:41:40
It looked like they had a couple hundred at most. The entire Upper Bullens section of the away end did not have a single person in it.
27 Posted 18/11/2008 at 15:46:48
Goodison as it is, is finished, and this is the real reason why 3 - 5,000 people are staying away.
28 Posted 18/11/2008 at 17:05:51
1. Buy the land & school behind Bullens Road
2. Build a new school nearby, demolish the houses and school
3. Build a new Goal stand parallel to but set back 50 yds from the Bullens Rd stand
4. Build 2 half stands at right angles to the new goal stand so there is a U shape.
5. In close season, demolish old Bullens Road stand and turn the pitch through 90 degrees to line up with new goal stand. At start of new season people can watch from the new U shape, from the old Main Stand and perhaps at a stretch from Park End & Gwladys.
6. Next close season demolish Park End & Gladwys and complete the 2 sides.
7. Next close season demolish Main Stand and build a new Goodison Road Goal stand to complete the stadium
8. Put a two fingered monument on each of the 4 sides, one pointing at the Red Shite, one at Liverpool CC, one at Kirkby, and one towards Manc land.
29 Posted 18/11/2008 at 22:54:56
No. That monument will point towards a Tesco store. There’s that many of em it’s bound to be facing the right way.
30 Posted 19/11/2008 at 02:19:21
31 Posted 19/11/2008 at 08:36:29
Can anyone tell me if we have been refused permission to build over the road in Stanley Park? ? (assuming we could pay for it) although it does seem crazy for two skint clubs to build two stadia meters apart.
I personally would prefer a ground share than a move to Kirkby, you can flip a switch to turn the stadium from blue to red, but the Kopites would never go for it as we have much more to gain out of it. It would give us more of an attraction outside of the City, which is the only way we?re fill up more than 40,000.
32 Posted 24/11/2008 at 16:06:11
33 Posted 24/11/2008 at 21:48:16
You should really put things into perspective. Clearly your career provides you with little scope to spout your boardroom bollocks. Get a life, get a job and use your time more wisely! Have you ever thought about a personal life? Maybe seeing a therapist is the answer - because becoming a sports journalist is not. You have time on your hands for a reason and it’s not to put us all to sleep. Moving on......