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The Laz Word.... from Larry Neild

Everton, Kirkby, and is it about time our football clubs learned to share?

Published on August 11th 2008.

The Laz Word.... from Larry Neild

IS the Kirkby dream shattered for ever? I can’t see an Everton ball being kicked in Knowsley this side of 2014, and I wouldn’t even risk a flutter on that prospect.

There’s no Plan B, so let’s get real.

Each club could have its own unique section, its own hallowed area, but a football pitch is a piece of soddin’ grass

Yes, the obvious answer is a shared stadium, a citadel of dreams within the city where Liverpool and Everton take on the footballing world.

Liverpool has yet to significantly start work on its new home at Stanley Park, and with the rising cost of steel, the credit crunch, the state of banana growing in the Seychelles, things are not looking rosy.

A dedicated fan would go the end of the world to watch his - or her – footballing heroes, so why not Liverpool’s docklands or some other suitable space?

Each club could have its own unique section, its own hallowed area, but a football pitch is a piece of soddin’ grass.

Don’t you think it’s strange both Liverpool and Everton have suffered setbacks? It’s as though it’s written in the stars a shared ground is the answer. It will save tens of millions of pounds, money that can be spent on players.

So why has the Kirkby dream crash landed? Everton FC, Tesco and Knowsley Council were locked into a Holy Trinity to build a stadium and a mega superstore in Kirkby. The cry was it takes three to tango – all or nothing. Well there’s another saying – two’s company, three’s a crowd. Kirkbyites are desperate for a superstore and town centre improvement, but many don’t want a football stadium on their doorstep.

All three parties took their eyes off the ball, so it’s their collective fault the scheme is going to a public inquiry, that’s if it’s not abandoned altogether (which is a possibility).

Reading the reasons why Hazel Blears called in the scheme, it is no open-and-shut case. I’d guess there’s slightly more chance of it being turned down than approved.

In the run up to the call-in, the murmurings were that a public inquiry could cause a delay that could put the project in doubt. If that was a threat to the Government it backfired spectacularly.

Here’s the problem: Knowsley Council was a party to the project, yet its own planning officers had to present their case to its own planning committee. Can you imagine a planning committee turning down such a significant council application? It is an unfair burden on councillors who sit on such committees. There should be a rule that major council-sponsored schemes are automatically decided by an inquiry. That way, planning managers will have to convince all-comers of the benefits. Months were wasted compiling a case for a committee that was almost certain to give the nod anyway.

It’s not just Knowsley Council. Could you imagine Liverpool Planning Committee turning down the Kings Dock Arena, or the Liverpool One development – given the council was a co-applicant? If a public inquiry had been factored into the Kirkby plan there would have been no delay.

Maybe Everton has missed the boat, and certainly the club will have to shoot down to Rapid to buy some paint for dear old Goodison Park which will remain as the actual and spiritual home for some years to come.

Football has become combative, rather than competitive, and the often vicious rivalry between teams is not good for sport or for society. That’s why a shared stadium in Liverpool would send a signal football has returned to its roots as a family sport, rather than a battleground for war-weary followers.

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13 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 11th 2008.

And people who don't follow football often appear souless.Leave it to the people with hearts.

Ben GAugust 11th 2008.

They seem to cope ok in Milan. Why not do it in Liverpool? What colour do you get if you mix blue and red? Purple! A purple stadium COOOOl!

DigAugust 11th 2008.

If you look at the size of Stanley Park and how much space a new ground will take you will see there will be about 65%-75% of the original park left untouched. Also the current Anfield site will be transformed to compensate for the majority of the percentage of loss of Stanley Park. Not forgetting the regeneration of a lot of certain parts of run down Anfield Streets. It seems to me a new ground would benefit the club and the area in general. However, Evertons new ground is still subject of debate of whether it will benefit Kirkby. If it is conclusively proven that it will benefit Kirkby then planning permission will be granted. I'll also let you in on a little secret. Tesco AND Everton have already started preliminary groundwork in Kirkby in anticipation of planning permission. All the talk of alternative sites is merely a smokescreen to keep anti Kirkby people appeased until it's too late for their opinion to count.

WappingAugust 11th 2008.

As far as I can tell, planning applications just have to fit the current legal criteria. If everything meets planning regulations a plan is granted no matter what the local people have to say. If local authorities object but the plans still meet the criteria then the local authorities are overruled by Ministers or the Courts.More people walk to Goodison than to any other football ground in England, time to start investing in hiking boot manufacturers I think. Hahaha!

DavyAugust 11th 2008.

I reckon a new stadium would have been better on the Croxteth side of the Lancs rather than the Knowsley side. Mind you, if they'd have moved Goodison 3 feet to the left you'd still have people harping on about it. Man City fans didn't particularly want to move to Eastlands but it meant survival - allbeit having more atmosphere on Mars. It's a bit of a kop out (pardon the pun) but the blues should embrace any new stadium offer with open arms, no matter where it is.

JonsonShineAugust 11th 2008.

Behave yourselves, a shared ground is a ridiculous idea and the thought that it's 'just a football pitch' is preposterous piffle paffle! Alright Liverpool FC aren't making headway as much as they should be doing but letting Everton play there every other week isn't charity, it's absolute lunacy! Kenwright is selling everton, apparently, which is handy as I get paid this week I might buy it just to use Goodison for my cats!

JonsonShineAugust 11th 2008.

Oh and Roy, 'Wembley of the north', how little you know you sad little man

Roy of the RoversAugust 11th 2008.

Sharing a stadium is so obvious it will never happen. The chances are both clubs will have to stay in their existing inadequate stadia for many more seasons.A shared stadium would be great for Merseyside as it would become the Wembley of the North, attracting national and international sporting events to Liverpool. It's a no brainer, but a lot of people who follow football, sadly, often appear to be somewhat brainless.

DigAugust 11th 2008.

It seems Larry Kneeled aint a football fan as I don't know a single red OR blue that would be happy with a shared stadium regardless of where it is. Both teams have over 100 years of individual history and a shared stadium would ever so slightly dilute that individuality. We all have our own teams, our own grounds and our own history, our own futures and that's how it should stay. New grounds should still be 'our' grounds and not a shared 'ours AND theirs'. P.S. To all the blues who oppose Kirkby. It has never done Man United any harm playing in the City of Salford.

edwardAugust 11th 2008.

Three tragedies from the Kirkby call-in;It was "a matter of regional significance" and therefore could only be decided in.....London!As my Kopite sister said years ago "this one's a no-brainer even for a bluenose; new stadium, no debt, wish Terry Leahy was one of ours."The prodnoses at Liverpool City Council opposed the Kirkby development because they were frightened of competition: i don't remember Knowsley objecting to Liverpool One. Abolish the lot of them and bring back the County.Also, all the ugliest buildings in Liverpool (think Mt Pleasant car park)were the result of Liverpool City Council giving itself "deemed" planning permission on its own developments. What goes round comes round and eventually reaches Kirkby.

Hooray HenriAugust 11th 2008.

It may be a bit late to say this but why is Liverpool FC being allowed to build on a park originally created as an open space for people who lived in houses without gardens. Those people still live in houses without gardens, so what has changed? Is it just that Liverpool FC has more clout nowadays? Would the club be allowed to build on Sefton Park or Calderstones? I don't think so.

Red in the woolAugust 11th 2008.

Well according to David Cameron's think tank, we should all just abandon Liverpool and turn the lights off. So I don't see either stadium being built come the impending Tory revolution. Ah, back to the eighties

PaulineAugust 11th 2008.

Sharing a stadium is not an option as the turf on the pitch (or the piece of soddin grass) would not stand the amount of games both Everton and Liverpool would be required to play in a season, with both teams in Europe for 2008/09.

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