Ground share talk must be finally ended

By Tony Barrett on May 31, 08 10:00 AM in Journalists

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SUCH is Warren Bradley's commitment to the Blue persuasion, it came as something of a surprise that he didn't follow up his speech at the opening of the new Liverpool One shopping complex with a vow to open Everton Two.

The leader of Liverpool city council has seen his stock fall amongst his fellow Evertonians in recent years with many blaming him for failing to do enough to keep their club in our city, and is seemingly desperate to get himself back on side.

Which is why no-one was in the least bit surprised when Cllr Bradley started banging the drum for a shared stadium again this week.

Apparently, the man who praised himself for the part he played in getting Liverpool One off the ground at Thursday's opening ceremony has been "working behind the scenes" on his dream of a shared stadium.

This work has seen the part-time fireman/part-time politician hold talks with all the key parties in a bid to turn local football rivals into caring, sharing Merseysiders.

Well, not all the key parties. No discussions have been held with anyone from Liverpool Football Club. who have ruled out a shared stadium almost as often as they have insisted their own stadium plans are on track.

It's all well and good having the odd chat with Bill Kenwright and holding discussions with the suits from the North West Regional Development Agency, but unless Cllr Bradley engages with Liverpool and manages to convince them to even consider sharing a stadium then he will be doing nothing more than whistling in the wind.

Furthermore, as leader of Liverpool city council, Cllr Bradley has an obligation to do what is right by the people of north Liverpool.

At present, those people are seeing the regeneration process which is supposed to galvanise the area in which they live held up by Liverpool's continual failure to start work on their planned new stadium in Stanley Park.

Deadlines have been set and deadlines have been missed and there are genuine fears that co-owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett will not be able to raise the kind of finance needed to build a ground which they pledged to start work on within 60 days when they took control of the club in February 2007.

Surely it would be more advisable and more appropriate for Cllr Bradley to challenge the Americans about why promises made to this city have not been kept and to do his duty to the people of North Liverpool by doing everything in his power to ensure the long-awaited regeneration process is not held up still further instead of banging on about a shared stadium which hardly anyone wants.

His current stance means there are some cynics who believe he's overly concerned about having to travel all the way from his south Liverpool home to Kirkby to take up his season ticket spec should his beloved Everton move.

This is a terrible, if not a heinously scurrilous accusation to be levelled at such a committed public servant of course, and anyone suggesting such terrible things should be forced to wash their mouths out with soap and water.

But unless and until Cllr Bradley accepts the inevitable and copes with the fact that a shared stadium is not on Liverpool's agenda he will leave himself open to accusations that he is letting down both the electorate and football fans in equal measure.

As he knows full well, politics is all about the art of the possible and the possibility of Liverpool sharing with Everton is currently about as slim as Peter Crouch.

Everton want their own stadium and Liverpool want theirs and the vast majority of both sets of fans support continued separatism, so sharing simply isn't an option.

The time has come for Cllr Bradley to move on. Or maybe he's so enamoured by the idea of sharing that his next big plan will see his beloved Liverpool One moved to Warrington so costs can be belatedly shared with Manchester.

Like the city they are based in, Both Everton and Liverpool Football Clubs are big enough and affluent enough to stand on their own two feet and unless both of them come to the unlikely conclusion that they cannot progress without one another then they should be allowed to do so.

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