Is a Liverpool/Everton groundshare the least worst option?

 June 7, 2009         6 Comments

Despite the fact that seemingly no-one in Liverpool – including either club or either set of fans – want Liverpool and Everton FC to share a ground, Councillor Warren Is-This-My-Best-Side? Bradley is still dead set on the two clubs joining forces, now using the 2018 World Cup bid to convince the two teams to form what’s likely to be an uncomfortable joint tenancy, assuming it happens.

The situation is not straightforward. Everton is keen to press ahead with a rather unloved proposal to build a new stadium in Kirkby, South Merseyside, on which the government will have the final say.

Meanwhile Liverpool – deeply in debt and owned by warring entrepreneurs George Gillet and Tom Hicks – favours building a new 60,000 stadium in Stanley Park, though a date for leaving Anfield seems no closer than it did five years ago.

Bluenose Bradley is keen on the groundshare idea, and the North West Development Agency is thought to pressuring both teams to accept the groundshare proposal, waving the carrot of a healthy injection of cash if the two clubs obey.

Muddying the waters is the fact that Liverpool, via Gillet and Hicks, owes a significant chunk of cash to RBS, which is itself essentially owned by the government.

Anfield rainbow

A set of unlikely circumstances would need to transpire for LFC to fall under any kind of direct government control, but the prospect remains an intriguing and amusing one.

To an outsider it looks like LFC simply considers itself too big to consider sharing a ground with its oldest enemy, or afford it the opportunity to rebuild its squad by redirecting cash from infrastructure to players.

Everton doesn’t appear to have the cash to build its own ground without help, and if the Tesco-backed Kirkby proposal goes west, a shared stadium seems the only way out of the decrepit Goodison.

However, Liverpool is hardly flush at the moment so the Reds may not have much choice if they want to leave the equally decrepit Anfield.

So, the government may end up owning Liverpool; Everton may not be allowed to move to Kirkby; the NWDA won’t give Liverpool any money unless it considers a groundshare; both clubs are currently mired in debt and have crumbling grounds; and a 2018 World Cup bid would currently not involve Liverpool.

A groundshare makes sense on so many levels, but since when has football had anything to do with common sense?

Bradley may profess to be a dyed-in-the-wool Blue, but he shows little understanding of football and football fans in his desire for LFC and EFC to share a ground.

Even so with both clubs struggling for cash, neither may be in a position to turn down financial aid – the only realistic proposition at the moment, assuming sharing ground is out of the question, seems to be for the clubs to tart up Anfield and Goodison.

LFC won’t get the cash it needs for Stanley Park; Destination Kirkby will probably be blocked.

A groundshare may just be the least worst option.

• Image by davegriffiths.

Comments

  1. Robin,

    There is no way that a groundshare will happen.

    Everton would be more open to it than Liverpool for sure…their financial clout is non-existant and they have been unable to find a ‘suitable’ site within the Liverpool boundary causing massive outrage amongst their fans. Many would prefer a share within Liverpool, compared to a stadium of their own in Knowsley. However, I think this is irrelevant; it takes two to tango!

    While Liverpools finacial situation isn’t too rosy either, the current owners will feel they can turn it around yet. Whether that be through re-financing (which isn’t out of the question…especially given G&H’s eagerness to sell their other US sporting ‘franchises’), or through external investors coming in they will feel they can still build the ground by 2012.

    The other option will be they sell up to new owners who will hopefully have the clout to start building straight away.

    Either way, they won’t ever share a ground, and Bradley needs to give up his continual bloody ramblings!

  2. Robin,

    I’m an Evertonian and I can full well see the merits of a groundshare. It happens all over the world.

    Right now it’s a non starter because Everton are waiting to find out if the government will allow them to move to Kirkby, and LFC think they can still do it alone.

    But if Everton get refused permission then I think it will right back on the agenda.

    Many fans might not like the idea, but if Kirkby fails then what?

    As for LFC the American owners are currently trying to raise the finance to retain ownership. Funding a new stadium is on the back burner.

    If the city council and the NWDA could put together a package that involved both clubs putting in an equal amount that was affordable could they really refuse? It would of course need to be a fully redesigned stadium from the designs that LFC have drawn up.

    Let’s face it football, now more than ever, is about cash. Everton is not flush and LFC is becoming more and more heavy with debt.

    I think TopCat raises an interesting point about Reds not wanting to share with Everton. But like I said above it’s not like the arrangement would just be beneficial to Everton.

    But for now let’s wait and see what happens with the Kirkby plan.

  3. Hi Robin,

    A groundshare is the only logical option for the city at the moment, but it won’t happen because of the tribalism of the support. I found TopCat’s post rather amusing – I think s/he fundamentally fails to grasp how much financial trouble Liverpool are in, and that when Gillett and Hicks bought the club their entire strategy was predicated on getting the ground built fast – to generate a new revenue stream to offset the ongoing debt financing.

    Speaking to a few more clued-up Liverpool supporters this week, there is a suggestion that any potential buyer for Liverpool would wait until they were on their last legs and RBS/Wachovia were effectively holding a (metaphorical) gun to Hicks/Gillett’s plural heads, thus getting the club for much less than it is currently valued at.

    As for Everton, there is a genuine concern on their part in the idea that the club’s identity might be dwarfed by the much bigger Liverpool franchise (as its owners regard it).

    In a city where only one club can play on a given weekend, where one ground stands empty every week, and where there are two top-flight clubs with no quality stadia between them (neither Goodison, nor Anfield for that matter, compare to the top English club grounds) it’s an an open and shut case for a groundshare.

    But it’ll never happen.

  4. Maybe both everton and liverpool fans need to take a good look at Milan and how successfully 2 sets of fans who detest each other and are in the same city share a state of the art ground (San Siro)

  5. its nothing to do with sharing with everton or the fact that the stadium would be world class or even financially we will be better off,its a very simple matter of anfield being our spiritual home! IF FOOTBALL FANS DONT UNDERSTAND THAT THEN THERE NOT REAL FANS!Even if we move to a new ground if we share then its not our spiritual home its just a pitch. I implore lfc fans to reject a shared ground it will rip the heart out of both communities.

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