Political Economy of Football
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Shared Stadium For Pool? - 11/10/03

With the promise of public funds being made available for up to a third of the cost, the North-West Development Agency has re-opened the vexed question of a shared stadium for Liverpool and Everton. The issue has been rumbling on for decades, but has acquired a new urgency as Liverpool prepares to seek permission for a 55,000 seater ground and Everton's plans to replace its decaying Goodison Park ground with the so-called 'Goodison on the water' at King's Dock have collapsed. The issue was discussed in late September at a meeting between the chief executive of Liverpool City Council and the chief executives of the two clubs. Steve Broomhead, chief executive of the Merseyside Development Agency, who was also at the talks, said Merseyside needed a world-class stadium and there was a strong business argument for a ground share. He added, 'What we do not want is emotions driving essentially what could be a very good business/regeneration decision on Merseyside.'

But that is the nub of the issue. A poll following the meeting conducted by the Liverpool Echo showed that more than sixty per cent of Liverpudlians were against the two clubs ever sharing a ground, despite the fact that their current stadiums are only half a mile apart. The commercial advantages of sharing have been recognised by such fiercely competitive clubs as AC Milan and Interazionale, producing in the San Siro one of the finest arenas in the world. However in Britain tribal rivalries often take precedence over commercial considerations. Independent Blues spokesman Ian MacDonald said that a ground share 'will never happen because the fans' opinions are so entrenched. Both boards would never propose the subject publicly for fear of the backlash.' For their part, Liverpool fans are likely to argue that Everton lack the financial clout of the Anfield side and would, in effect, be piggy-backing on a successful stadium proposal because their own had collapsed.

Nevertheless, a city official pointed out, 'The potty thing is that there are fans of different clubs in the same families. They manage to share the same homes so why cannot the clubs?' Relations between the two clubs are hardly as bad as those between Celtic and Rangers where, as the Financial Times commented, a shared stadium would probably have to be operated under the protection of the United Nations. London and Manchester clubs are outspending their Liverpool rivals. Would a shared stadium lead to more chances of winning trophies in one of Britain's leading football cities?

Liverpool Announce Stadium Plans

Anfield, an historic stadium

Liverpool subsequently applied for planning permision for a new 60,000 seater stadium in Stanley Park, a few hundred yards from Anfield. The club hope to move into the 80m arena in the summer of 2006. The application includes plans for a museum, a hall of fame, an education centre and an underground car park. Liverpool also expect to apply for permission within two years to build 'Anfield Plaza', a complex of hotels, offices and restaurants around the new stadium. The proposal does not necessarily put an end to the ground sharing idea.

 


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