After having their initial plans to move to a new home in Kirkby turned down, Everton FC have been handed a lifeline with the news that a new stadium could be included in revised plans to redevelop the area.
North West Minister Phil Woolas met with Knowsley Council to discuss the plans to redevelop the Kirkby town centre and although Everton’s stadium was not discussed, Mr Woolas insisted that it was still a possibility.
England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup could yet prove to be the Toffees' saving grace - at the moment Merseyside does not have a stadium suitable to host any World Cup fixtures but a new stadium in Kirkby could change all that.
This is just the latest development in what has been a rollercoaster ride for the club and their plans for a new home. Evertonians are divided on what the club should do, with many unhappy about the proposed move to Kirkby. Some want to develop Goodison Park and there are even a handful that would consider sharing a stadium with bitter rivals Liverpool.
Brian Gould from Keep Everton In Our City (KEIOC) believes that the best option is for the directors at Everton to seriously look into the Goodison Park redevelopment plans.
He said: "I would love to see us stay at Goodison. Look back at Anfield 60 years ago, it was a dump. Since then it has been gradually developed and now the only reason Liverpool are looking to move away is for a bigger capacity.
"Goodison can be developed to a capacity as far as 65,000. Everton don’t need any more than that. People say it can’t be done but why not? Nobody has tried since 1970 and that was only a slight improvement of the Goodison Road stand. I don’t blame the current directors for the predicament we find ourselves in. This has been passed along for years."
There are many different views as to where Everton’s future home should be but Mr Gould sees no reason why the Blues cannot stay where they are and continue to progress as a successful European football club.
He added: "I know Evertonians who would share with Liverpool tomorrow. I know Evertonians who would move to Kirkby tomorrow. But I bet all of them would rather stay put. People say we have to move in order to match our ambitions on the field but surely staying at a redeveloped Goodison Park would be perfect. And it can be done."
Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone has admitted that the club would consider a ground-sharing arrangement with Liverpool, if it makes financial sense.
Mr Gould disagreed: “It makes financial sense but too many people are against it. It would upset a lot of football fans across the city. I would say no to sharing with Liverpool.”
This is a view shared by Everton season-ticket holder Scott Richards, who said: "I can’t see us sharing for a number of reasons. Liverpool would want facilities that we quite simply wouldn’t need, for example a capacity of around 75,000. I don’t want us to be playing in front of potentially 20,000 empty seats every week.
"On a more personal note, I wouldn’t particularly want to walk through the Shankly/Paisley gates to get to my seat every game, and would not be happy with a Liverpool fan sitting in mine every other week.”
Mr Richards also believes that Liverpool as well as Everton fans would be against sharing a stadium. He went on to say: “Liverpool have always voiced their disapproval for the ground-share, mainly because they still have hopes for their pipe-dream of a stadium in Stanley Park.
"So have Everton apart from one comment from Robert Elstone in the wake of the Destination Kirkby project failure, this shows both clubs are not even willing to come to the table to discuss this yet, and Liverpool City Council would also need to be a major player.”
Lifelong Liverpool fan Dave Swanson was in agreement that there are too many potential stumbling blocks in the proposal of a ground-share. He said: “Everybody knows of Liverpool’s history and a club of our stature should have a stadium of their own that the fans can be proud of.
"Granted, both Liverpool and Everton both have proud backgrounds and I don’t think that anyone can argue that this city is one of the best footballing cities in the world. For that reason, I would say that Liverpool and Everton alike deserve fantastic stadiums, but on their own.”
By Gary Maiden, Sports Reporter
EFC & LFC stories from JMU
EFC proposal in pictures
Kirkby stadium: could it be back on? (geedosimages, Flickr); Future home for both clubs? (BrumBrums, Flickr)
Liverpool stadium in pictures