Simon Inglis is a world renowned expert on Stadium Architecture History and Design. He has decades of experience and has written many well known publications on the subject, with the history and development of Goodison Park featuring strongly in several of his books. He also sat on several bodies relating to stadium design following the Hillsborough Disaster of 1989.
He is also editor for the current edition of the "Green Guide" (Guide to safety at sports grounds). When asked to give his opinion regarding Everton FC's proposed move to Kirkby, despite an extremely busy workload he felt strongly enough to give this response:
"By leaving the city of Liverpool, the directors of Everton FC will forever break the duopoly that has characterised professional football in Liverpool since 1892.
This will not only permanently alter the character of Everton, but also of the city as a whole.
The proximity of Goodison and Anfield is a defining part of the city's heritage, and a symbol of how allegiances to both clubs are rooted in cultural factors rather than geographical ones.
If I were an Everton fan, before signing up to the Kirkby proposals I would want to see clearly defined evidence that Goodison Park is no longer viable, and that all possible alternative sites within the city have been studied. If such evidence is not made publicly available then no supporter can hope to make a properly informed judgement.
Many clubs that have relocated in recent years, such as Bolton, Derby, Southampton and Sunderland, have not suffered from an acute loss of local identity, simply because they have no immediate neighbours.
The case of Manchester City cannot be compared with Everton because City's new stadium was publicly funded. Similarly, Arsenal's new stadium is within the same London borough, and involved a move of less than one mile. It is my belief that by relocating to Kirkby, the character and constituency of Everton would undoubtedly be forever changed. Everton fans must decide whether that is an eventuality that they embrace, or one they dread.
Put it like this, if a similar proposal were put forward for my club, Aston Villa, I would be extremely worried."
23rd July 2007