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Time to Share? Five Questions Answered

Is it possible for Everton and Liverpool to cooperate in either sharing a new stadium, or at least sharing some facilities, including transport infrastructure? This could save both clubs a fortune [some of which could be allocated to team building] as well as being more responsible in environmental terms. It could allow them, in conjunction with public sector partners in the Stadium Company, to build an 80,000-seat stadium, with genuine claims to be the finest football ground in the world.

Architects David Backhouse and Trevor Skempton put their proposals for Stanley Park to local media this week and there has been a varied reaction. David and Trevor have given the following answers to five of the many questions raised.

Would each club be risking the loss of its individual identity?

This is a risk, which concerns us both, and it must be addressed by making the separate identities a key feature of the design. We have proposed two ‘pavilions’ in opposite corners, each the freehold property of the respective clubs, each containing home and away dressing rooms, and each containing the club’s own museum and hospitality areas.

The rest of the stadium, including all 80,000 seats, would be owned and operated by a joint stadium company, with the public sector having a third share. Much of the extra capacity would be aimed at cheaper seats, especially for younger supporters.

Both clubs would be locked into robust 50-year agreements that would prevent them playing any ‘home’ matches elsewhere. Other agreements would ensure ‘equality’ of the clubs in terms of stadium access and usage, while recognising the need for both clubs, as separate ‘businesses’, to develop ‘product differentiation’ and ‘unique selling points’.

Is Stanley Park the only option for a shared stadium?

Stanley Park has been at the centre of the history of both football clubs. The possibility of extending the two present historic grounds and building a massive underground car park in Stanley Park, with all-weather pitches on the surface, suitable for major events, is an attractive one, and it’s one of the options we have considered.

Other potential locations for a shared stadium include the former Clarence Dock Power station site in the Central Docks and the Tunnel Loop site in Scotland Road. The owners of the docks, Peel Holdings, seem reluctant to consider a stadium, but the owners of the ‘Loop’ site, Bestway, have indicated that they would be very interested in the idea.

Where is the money coming from?

Both clubs have current stadium proposals. We believe that Everton’s proposals for a 51,000-seat stadium in Kirkby are inadequate for the club, as well as being in the wrong place. Liverpool’s 72,000-seat proposals for the ‘New Anfield’ are more ambitious, but seem to be too expensive for the club too afford.

The new 80,000-seat stadium would be expensive, but the cost would be split three ways, the revenue to each club would be larger, and the public sector would also have an involvement, especially in terms of managing ‘enabling’ development around the new periphery of the park, providing an appropriate transport arrangements [including a new Merseyrail station] and ensuring that the local communities of Anfield and Walton benefited from the development.

Would the proposal to build in the middle of Stanley Park ruin the park forever?

Liverpool have already received planning permission to build a ‘New Anfield’ in the East of the Park. They have had second thoughts about their design and are intending to submit a second planning application. This proposal moves the new stadium to the open ground in the centre of the park, well away from any houses, leaving the East side for new playing pitches and restoring the historic structures and lakes on the West side. Most importantly, we advocate extending the park to include both the Anfield and Goodison pitches and the two historic Archibald Leitch stands at Goodison. New commercial and residential buildings would be built to provide a satisfactory enclosure to these new parts of the park, as shown by the yellow lines on the sketch above. We think that this is a great opportunity to provide a park that is fit for the twenty-first century, whilst restoring the park’s historic links into the communities of Anfield and Walton.

The stadium looks quite conventional. Couldn’t you be more adventurous?

Yes, we could be more adventurous, but decided that the important thing at this stage is to get the basic idea across, without any distracting grand architectural gestures. Our suggestion is that five different design teams would be brought in to develop the concept.

The first team would deal with the overall landscape and masterplan, ensuring proper coordination and delivery. The second would deal with the multi-tiered East Stand, the third would dead with the single-tiered East Stand. These three teams would work for the joint stadium company. The fourth and fifth design teams would deal with the two ‘pavilions’, and would be answerable directly to the two clubs. These design teams should include some of the best and most imaginative people available.

Trevor Skempton and David Backhouse, 27th February 2008