Is Liverpool A One or Two Stadium City
You can tell that there is no premiership football for the media to comment on when, a seasoned reporter brings out a tried, tested and possibly answered article to try and open up the debated subject once more.
This weekend it was the turn of the debate that surrounds whether Liverpool and Everton Football clubs should in fact pool their resources and build a stadium that would cater for both sides of the city. The reporter is question believes that it is the one thing that will pull David Moyes and Everton out of the horrific mess that they find themselves in at the moment.
But Will it?
If you look back at the history of both clubs, they have never shared a stadium. Everton were the first club to occupy Anfield having agreed to rent the land for the purposes of sport in 1841. They stayed there until in the early part of 1892 there were several disputes which led to them moving out and John Houlding forming Liverpool Football Club. This of course led to Everton taking up residency on the other side of Stanley Park.
Now I have watched both clubs build and rebuild their stadia throughout my life and they have now both reached the point where a major redevelopment is necessary. Liverpool need to increase their capacity to cope with the amount of supporters that struggle to purchase tickets each week and Everton need to have their stadium dragged into the 21st century (I apologise in advance if I have annoyed the blue side of my family for stating this).
Where Liverpool Football Club are concerned, the rebuilding of Anfield was one of the reasons that the club changed ownership four years ago. If the words "We will have a spade in the ground in 60 days" had meant anything, the visits I have made to Anfield during the last two seasons would have taken place in a new state of the art stadium built on Stanley Park. It was not to be though and we are now looking at a stadium that has served its purpose extremely well in its present form, a stadium that either needs to be re-developed or indeed rebuilt on the land which is still available in Stanley Park.
After three years of turmoil, the club was eventually rescued last October by John Henry and Fenway Sports Group, who said that the stadium situation was one of their main priorities. Indeed they have until the end of September to give Liverpool City Council an answer as to what their preferred option will be. Those options of course are of course whether to rebuild or indeed redevelop Anfield. There have also been rumblings around the shared stadium issue, rumblings that were I thought finally put to bed last week by John Henry.
Everton who I suppose are Liverpool's poor relations over the last 10 years made several moves to try and get a new stadium built. There were major discussions over whether or not they should move to the Kings Dock, but as the dock was developed Everton stagnated and stayed at Goodison. Then a couple of years ago, on the blue side of the city there was talk of the club taking up a partnership with Tesco and moving out to Kirkby. Again, this has never happened and although I understand Tesco are again looking to move there, Everton will not be involved.
They are still at Goodison and will be for the foreseeable future because it has emerged in the last few weeks that they appear to be in serious trouble. The transfer window passed the club by and with David Moyes having to sell several of his better players the future on the pitch looks bleak. There are also major problems in the boardroom and unless something drastic happens, a new stadium or indeed a shared one is a figment of an Everton supporter's imagination.
The situation at Everton is the reason why this is particular reporter and indeed some of the more mischievous members of the press believe that a shared stadium would the answer. In theory, yes it would certainly cut the cost both clubs would have to find to fund the development. Sometimes though, theories simply don't work. Liverpool could fill an 80,000 seater stadium week in and week out. Everton even if they got back to the dizzy heights of their popularity would probably only be able to fill a 40,000 seater one. A stadium that is half empty every other week simply will not be a viable financial proposition for either of the club's boards. Also as the situation stands at the moment, Liverpool would be able to fund the development and Everton would not.
To add a little mischief to the argument can you imagine if the two clubs in Manchester were told they had to share the bigger of the two stadiums? Or indeed if any some crazy FA initiative London was divided into North, South, East and West and then told the same. The uproar would be unimaginable and we would live in a country where football supporters had lost their own special identities.
Which are why Liverpool and Everton Football Clubs, must remain as the two separate entities, one RED and one BLUE, that in April 1892 John Houlding decreed them to be.