The historic Goodison Park has been home to the blue half of Merseyside since 1892 with the ground having hosted more top-flight English football matches than any other, however Everton Football Club yesterday officially outlined plans which will see the club move away from their historic home to a new ground based on the Walton Hall Park site.
There has long been discussion of a potential move away from Goodison Park with the seemingly farfetched idea of a ground share with fierce city rivals Liverpool being muted, with particular volume during the Anfield club’s cash struggles during the Hicks and Gillett era.
This, as you would expect, has never been a popular choice with supporters, yet with Liverpool having outlined plans for an expansion of Anfield earlier this year it seems as if Everton have been left with no other option but to go in alone on the construction of a new stadium.
Everton Football Club hopes to fully utilize a partnership with Liverpool City Council during this process and have invited supporters and locals to have their say on the potential move. Club chairman Bill Kenwright was very positive about the plan in a statement given to Everton’s club website,
“On my journey to our home games, as I pass Walton Hall Park, I inevitably think that I am only a minute away from our beloved Goodison…for several years now, I’ve also thought, if only it was available for our new stadium, it ticks all the boxes.
It could be something very special for our city, the residents of North Liverpool and all Evertonians – a new home that goes beyond football and does what Everton does better than anyone else.”
The project itself would generate opportunities for the city of Liverpool with the City Council hoping the move to Walton Hall Park would generate in excess of 1000 jobs according to figures published in the Liverpool Echo online.
The financial aspect of moving to a new stadium cannot be understated, just look at Arsenal’s protracted move to the Emirates Stadium in 2006 and the resultant complications financially in the years after. However it is thought Everton will be given monetary support by the City Council to help kick-start the move.
The footballing landscape, particularly in England, is far different to what it was a decade ago. Clubs have far more lucrative sponsorship deals as well as the monumental figures involved in Sky’s latest television deal with the Premier League. The funding is there for Everton to make the move, although with the project still in such infancy there is no clear indication as to the exact cost.
It must be noted that Everton have been linked with projects similar to this in the past. It was as recently as the year 2000 when Bill Kenwright confirmed the club’s desire to move to a new stadium on the Kings Dock site as part of a huge redevelopment plan for the area. The plan was later scrapped in 2003 due to Everton being unable to find the necessary funding.
With Everton in the best financial shape the club has been in for many years, due to a number of both on and off field factors, 2014 seems the perfect time for the club to push ahead with plans for a new stadium. Of course the club and its supporters have had false dawns before but the Walton Hall Park project has begun in earnest.
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