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Monday, March 31, 2008

Kenwright: "I've always thought we had to move from Goodison Park"

Bill Kenwright

Bill Kenwright has been interviewed by Sir Bobby Robson in the Daily Mail recently. Surprisingly, Kenwright states he has always been of the opinion that Everton have to leave Goodison Park:

"I've always thought we had to move from Goodison Park.I loved the days when I watched you at inside-forward. I'd stand with 60,000 fans and have a meat pie at half-time, with soggy water coming out of it. But the big thing in football today is money. The manager needs money, the fans want money spent on players. You can only go so far with a ground like Goodison. I would love to stay at my blue and white palace forever but there is not enough capacity, there are too many restrictive seats and even health and safety regulations is an issue."

Previously, Bill Kenwright had cited Sunderland's transformation from relegation battlers at Roker Park to European competition chasers at Stadium of Light as the inspiration for his decision to move out of Goodison Park.

On 25th March 2000, Everton were playing Sunderland in the the three year old Stadium of Light in front of almost 42,000 fans. Everton lost 2-1 that day and Sunderland enjoyed a relatively successful season finishing 7th in their first Premiership season at the Stadium of Light (Everton finished 13th with 8 points less, Walter Smith's highest finish at the club) and prospects were looking good for the 'Black Cats' at that time, they have been relegated from the Premiership twice since then despite their large home attendances (an average of 6,000 more than Everton at present).

We also find his comments strange as he was has previously a supporter of the campaign Goodison For Ever-ton (GFE) and is even alledged to have made a donation to their cause.

The Goodison For Ever-ton campaign was created to "challenge the assumption that Goodison Park couldn't be redeveloped". To clarify KEIOC is not GFE but KEIOC has no problems supporting GFE work.

GFE wanted to fund a feasibility report to prove that Goodison Park could be redeveloped despite the then chairman Peter Johnson stating it couldn't - and wanting to relocate the club to Kirkby - sound familiar? Their Feasibility Report can be found in the KEIOC depository. The report came to the conclusion that Goodison Park could be redeveloped for £42million within a time period of between three and four years. The report was commissioned in 1997 and was conducted by the architects responsible for the Twickenham redevelopment.

Interestingly another prominent Evertonian and GFE supporter, Andy Burnham, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, made his feelings clear when recently asked if he liked the idea of Everton playing in Kirkby by local radio station CityTalk:

"Instinctively my heart lies at Goodison and I have to say no. I'll continue to watch this debate and I have to be persuaded that it [the relocation] has long term benefits for Everton."

He also warned the club not to forget their roots, he told the official club site:

"I believe very strongly that football must never forget its roots and the roots of this football club was a church team that turned into a community team and then a professional football club and that's the roots of the game and the reason why people are so loyal to clubs is their own personal identities, our own local identities.

My family moved away when I was young from Liverpool but all my roots are here and that's why they are so loved and inspire so much loyalty and if you forget that I think that you are forgetting something very precious about English football.

So yes, you can make English football successful on the World stage but always remember where they come from, always remember how supporters feel about these clubs and never jeopardise that for more money."

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