Blues and Reds unite against ground-sharing plan

  • Other Sport
  • Wednesday, 01 Dec 2004

LIVERPOOL: “Can you imagine walking into the new Anfield and seeing blue seats everywhere? How could we consider it our home?” 

To Liverpool supporter Andy Neymen, the idea of his beloved Reds sharing their ground with city rivals Everton is football heresy. 

“This is meant to be our new home in place of a ground that is a legend in football,” he said. “We can't be sharing it with Blue noses.” 

Today, British Sports Minister Richard Caborn is to meet officials from both Premier League clubs to discuss the idea of a ground-share. 

He is keen for Everton to take part in Liverpool's project for a 60,000-capacity stadium in Liverpool's Stanley Park. 

Everton are against the proposal and supporters in the pubs of Liverpool believe both clubs would suffer if they were forced into a shared venture. 

Everton have shelved a project planned for Liverpool's Kings Dock due to the cost and still play in the antiquated Goodison Park stadium situated at the opposite end of Stanley Park to Liverpool's Anfield ground, a distance of 400m. 

“There's no way I want to piggy back what Liverpool are doing just to have a new ground,” Everton supporter Neil Sleeman said. 

“It will always feel like it was Liverpool's ground now and there is no way I want to be calling the new Anfield the home of Everton.” 

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has already spoken out against the idea of sharing, saying the pitch would suffer through over-use and supporters would not like the idea. 

The groundshare idea has resurfaced because the costs of building the new stadium have soared from an estimated £80 million to £110 million. 

Everton appear to have most to gain from the deal as they are currently in debt and may not be able to raise the capital needed to build a new home. 

“We have been talking about leaving Goodison Park for ages and to be honest the ground is starting to show its age,” Richard Parker said. 

“But I think our fans would only be happy moving to a new purpose-built stadium for Everton. 

“Whatever they say about sharing, that would never be the case. We would always be told we were just tenants by that lot. 

“That's something Everton fans are just not going to put up with.” 

Generally fans of both clubs enjoy a friendly rivalry. Unlike in other cities that boast two clubs, supporters of either team are not situated in different areas of Liverpool. 

Many live next door to each other and it is common for a family to be split between the two teams. 

Ironically, Everton started out playing at Anfield before moving to Goodison Park in 1892 when the landlord John Houlding doubled the rent. 

Liverpool were founded by Houlding to ensure he still had a team to play on his land. 

“I know people are saying it makes financial sense to share with Everton as they would pay towards the building and upkeep,” Liverpool fan Phil Symes said. 

“But this isn't about money. It's about our football club and I want to keep the traditions we have here, not sell them out. 

“Can you imagine Manchester United letting Manchester City share with them?  

“It would never happen and it won't happen here.” – Reuters 

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