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Everton frustrated by council’s “non-action” over new stadium plans

By Tom Walker    24 Nov 2015
Everton's previous plans to build a new stadium in Kirkby (pictured) were rejected by the Labour government in 2009

Robert Elstone, CEO of Everton Football Club (EFC), has called on Liverpool City Council to make up its mind on whether it will support plans for a new 50,000-capacity stadium in the Walton Hall Park area of the city.

Speaking at EFC’s general meeting, Elstone said the club was committed to the project, but it needs to ascertain the council’s level of backing for the development.

He accused the council of not understanding fully the positive effect a new stadium – and the adjoining improvements to infrastructure – would have on Liverpool.

“A new stadium at Walton Hall Park as part of a major regeneration partnership with the city council would make a massive difference to the club and the city,” Elston said.

"It would have economic benefits and social benefits, create houses, jobs, community facilities and new and enhanced leisure facilities.

“The biggest risk [to the project] in my opinion is the failure to grasp collectively the belief in the transformational possibilities of Walton Hall Park for north Liverpool.

"This is not just about a new stadium for Everton, it is about a regeneration of north Liverpool. It is an even bigger prize for the city. Until our partners grasp that concept, it is going to be very difficult to make the progress we want.

"We can make a huge difference but we can't do it on our own - we need help and we need a partnership approach. We need to know the terms for accessing the park and need to know the levels of investment and support the council is willing to put in.”

EFC is desperate to move to a new venue in order to increase capacity and Walton Hall Park is the club’s third proposed new stadium site in recent times – following failed plans to build new venues in Kirkby and at King’s Dock on the Mersey waterfront.

Despite the lack of progress with the Walton Hall Park site, however, Elston has ruled out a redevelopment – or a rebuild – of its existing, 40,000-capacity Goodison Park stadium.

"A new stadium on the the same footprint is just not viable,” he said.

"Architects and engineers have been back in to look at Goodison Park, we've done that work again and the conclusions were the same as they were before the Kirkby Inquiry.

"Expanding on the Main Stand and Gwladys Street wouldn't make viable economic sense, expansion of the Park End ticks one box in that it would add to the capacity but other problems remain."

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