Ground-sharing not fully ruled-out

Reports in this morning’s newspapers suggest that plans for Everton to be allowed to share Liverpool’s new stadium have not been fully dismissed by new owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett.

Liverpool will go ahead with the building of their stadium regardless of whether our small neighbours decide to part-share a ground with us. And the ground will remain Liverpool’s property, Everton only being allowed to share our ground as tenants.

Everton have been pressing endlessly to share the new stadium so that they can demolish their own ground and raise some cash from developers. Although Barratt had shown strong interest in buying the land, it now seems Redrow are most interested, hoping to build a mixture of executive detached homes and larger apartments on the site which is on a major route into the city centre. Everton fans are expected to be up in arms at seeing builders’ signs starting with the word “Red” where their ground used to be, but that’s going to be the least of their worries. At least when the building work is finished the name of the actual site will not have any reference to LFC.

Everton’s hopes of having a ground built in Kirkby have been floundering after Tesco realised that Everton were expecting more out of the deal than intended. Tesco wanted the Goodison Park site to build a new superstore, but Everton wanted to sell that land to the builders – and still get a free ground in Kirkby courtesy of the supermarket chain.

Liverpool fans do not need to worry about the new ground having blue seats or space for an Everton trophy room – redundant or not. In fact in what will outrage Everton fans more than Liverpool fans the new ground will only host Everton for at most six games a season. Everton are to play their bigger games – for example the derby and matches against Manchester United – at the new Liverpool FC stadium. The remainder will be played at Wigan Athletic’s JJB stadium. Everton’s cup matches won’t be played at the new Anfield – Liverpool have made it clear that they want minimal impact on their pitch.

In fact the offer to allow Everton to play half a dozen matches at Anfield is all part of the wider commercial strategy by the new owners aimed at getting the new ground to pay for itself. Summer rock concerts are being considered if the price is right, as are showpiece FA Cup semi-finals, international games for countries wishing to play friendlies in Europe (similar to Brazil recently) and even cult conventions.

There is also a suggestion that Everton will be out of Goodison before Liverpool have finished building their stadium. Hicks and Gillett are said to be negotiating with Everton over the idea of buying the Goodison site to enable a multi-storey car-park to be built there. The 60,000 limit on capacity at the new ground is mainly due to limitations in the transport infrastructure in the area. Parking issues are only a small part of this problem, but important to address nevertheless.

A spokesman for Kop Football refused to deny the possibilities of this deal, and hinted at reasons why there would be only a few Everton games at the new Anfield. Lily Sporafoda said: “We are looking to maximise the revenue from the new ground as much as we can. If we sell naming rights and it buys a new striker for the club then surely it’s worthwhile. Likewise hiring the ground out for occasional events like rock concerts. As far as allowing other games to be played there, it would have to be a game attracting a large crowd otherwise the hire costs won’t be covered by the gate receipts.” So would Everton be allowed to hire the ground? “As long as it doesn’t impact on Liverpool FC’s plans, as long as they don’t ask for the pitch to be watered until it’s waterlogged, as long as they pay in advance, I’m sure it could be considered.”

A lot of supporters are expected to be outraged by this news, but most should be feeling better by lunchtime.

* Well it's now turned 12.00 noon in the UK so it's best we point out the date to you!