As Liverpool struggle to find the funding for their new stadium and Everton’s plans for a new stadium are tied up in a public enquiry that could last years it is only a matter of time before the idea of a shared stadium is once again mooted. I believe it is a terrible idea and both clubs should not even contemplate it.
The idea of a shared stadium has been around for years now and it is a firm favourite of local and national politicians. Minister for Sport Richard Caborn brokered talks with both clubs about sharing the Stanley Park site where Liverpool are proposing to build their new stadium. Liverpool City Council leader Warren Bradley is a strong supporter of a shared stadium, but this may be more to do with his involvement in the ‘Keep Everton in Our City’ camp, which opposes Everton’s proposed move to Kirkby, just outside the City Limits.
This idea is not a favourite of the fans and not a favourite of the front offices of the clubs themselves.
When Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought Liverpool in 2007 one of the first things Liverpool Chief Executive Rik Parry told them was of they ever proposed a shared stadium he would resign on the spot. Everton’s former Chief Executive Keith Wyness was another vocal opponent of the plans.
Maybe 5 years ago a shared stadium was a viable option. Liverpool as a city had lagged behind the modernisation and developments of other cities like Manchester and Glasgow. However, winning the European Capital of Culture 2008 bid meant that money was available for redevelopment of the city and the waterfront and the result is that Liverpool has caught up to those cities it had fallen behind.
We can take that spirit into our clubs. Everton and, if you believe the rumours, Liverpool are both searching for new ownership and it is not impossible that both these clubs will have been sold in 6 months time. If Hicks and Gillett do sell to Dubai’s Sheik Maktoum then he has the finances to fund the new stadium himself. Everton’s position is slightly different in that they are building their stadium in conjunction with supermarket giant Tesco and have not received planning permission yet, unlike Liverpool. However, I’m sure that if Everton jump through the hoops that Liverpool had to jump through they will get the required permission to build.
The usual line trotted out by shared stadium supporters is to look at other shared stadiums such as in Italy. Italian stadiums are council owned, which is why the clubs are happy to use them. It is also why Italian football is rife with hooliganism and dilapidated stadiums with bad pitches, as the clubs pass the buck to the council, who pass it straight back so these problems are never solved.
In America the Jets have shared Giants stadium but are planning to leave as both the Giants and the Jets build new stadiums. In Minnesota plans for the Vikings to share the Gophers new stadium fell apart. Shared stadiums do not happen in Spain, in Germany (except Munich’s Allianz Arena), in Portugal, in Scotland, in Brazil, in Argentina or in most other major footballing countries, and definately not between two rival clubs
The only shared stadium I can recall in England was Crystal Palaces Selhurst Park when Charlton, the Wimbledon made it their home. The pitch was awful due to the amount of games played on it and the fans of all clubs hated it.
Liverpool is world famous for two things: The Beatles and football. Since 1892 there have been two football clubs with separate identities and stadiums in the City of Liverpool. We have been fine with two stadiums for 116 years now and there is no reason why we cannot continue to have two stadiums in a city the size of Liverpool.
I believe that sharing a stadium would dilute football in a city with the most and sixth most successful clubs in England who between them have won every major competition in club football. If that is not a good enough reason alone for opposing a stadium share, I don’t know what is.