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Friday, August 8, 2008

Everton To Meet City Council Over Alternative Stadium Sites

Warren BradleyFollowing the Government's decision to call in the Destination Kirkby plans Everton Football Club have made contact with Liverpool City council to see what alternative plans are available.  

The local media have reported that Everton have been locked in an exclusivity agreement which included a 'get out clause' which was activated when the Destination Kirkby project was called in on Wednesday evening.

The costs of the stadium in Kirkby to Everton are expected to rise by millions of pounds because of the public inquiry. This may make it too expensive or too much of a risk for Everton to continue with their current plans especially as the increase in cost will in all likelihood have to be borrowed from a financial institution.

We also understand that the club are taking independent advice to see whether the planning application is likely to be approved before they commit to the project. Should Everton decide to remain committed to the Destination Kirkby scheme they will not be able to discuss any other alternatives plans until the outcome of the public inquiry is announced. Whether plans for Destination Kirkby are passed at the planning inquiry or not, Everton will still have to pay additional legal costs which could run into millions of pounds. It makes sense for Everton to look at alternative sites now while they have permission without breaking any agreement.

Keep Everton in our City would like to applaud the acting Chief Executive Officer Robert Elstone and Chairman Bill Kenwright for entering dialogue with the city council to discuss alternative plans to those in Kirkby. We are confident that a better solution for the long-term aspirations of our club can be found.

Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley confirmed he will be meeting club officials to discuss alternative plans: “I have had an informal discussion with Bill Kenwright and we will meet next week to talk about the club's next steps.

“We should be trying to keep one of our oldest commercial businesses in the city. This is not blue-sky thinking.

“I've put locations on the table which are hard options. We need to sit round the table and see what we can deliver.”

One alternative plan presented by Liverpool City Council is likely to be a& redeveloped Goodison park which may come with the benefit of a re-opened Walton and Anfield Railway station (on Walton Lane) on the Bootle Branch line. The CEO of Liverpool City Council Colin Hilton has told KEIOC that the council are supportive of the idea and are awaiting the outcome of a Merseytravel feasibility study:

"The City Council has long been a supporter of the idea of reopening the line for passenger use and has been in consultation with Merseytravel over the various possible options to do this. We understand they have been completing some feasibility work over the last few months and we look forward to hearing the outcome of their analysis."

Elstone and Kenwright's decision over the coming weeks on their preferred option is vital and one which will effect us all. The alternative plans will no doubt be discussed between shareholders and the board at the Extraordinary General Meeting which has been scheduled for 3rd September.

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