This weekend it was formally announced that Everton and Tesco’s plans for Kirkby have been formally shelved. The club and Knowsley council had six weeks to appeal against the Government’s decision to reject the Destination Kirkby scheme, but they have allowed the deadline to expire without any form of challenge to the verdict. The Kirkby development was set to have a new stadium, a supermarket and over 50 shops but the regeneration was seen as too radical for the area. It comes as no surprise though as Everton made it clear back in November that they were looking to move on from the plans, and have proceeded to looking for another new home since. As the decision has now been confirmed though, what now for Everton’s future?
Similarly to city rivals Liverpool, a new stadium is essential for Everton for being able to compete at the top level. Despite defeating big spending Manchester City at the weekend, David Moyes would no doubt love to have City’s financial clout but the current financial constraints at the club limit the club ambitions for higher finishes in the Premier League. Despite Landon Donovan’s initial success at Goodison Park, Everton fans will certainly be disappointed to see that Everton boss Moyes is limited to loan signings. Certainly he has picked up some bargains on loan, such as Steven Pienaar and Mikel Arteta, before snapping them up on a permanent basis, but he certainly cannot go out and look for a 20million striker like fellow top half competitors such as Tottenham, City and Aston Villa.
Moyes has done superbly with the budget at his disposal but if Everton are going to progress further and extend the ambitions any further than Europa League football, a solution must be found. A Sugar Daddy on the lines of Manchester City maybe an avenue to go down, but such an option is fraught with risk, considering the episodes at both Liverpool and Manchester United. The safest and most sustainable for a long term future is to build a new stadium. Certainly a stadium nearer to the centre of Liverpool will be preferred by some Everton fans, but the loss of Kirkby means that any future financial gain for the club are that bit further off.
The benefits of a new stadium are certainly demonstrated by Arsenal and their Emirates stadium. Revenue streams from stadium naming rights, season ticket sales and massively increased gate receipts are obvious. Certainly initially some of this has to go towards paying for the construction of the stadium, but in the long term it provides financial stability and gives the club the weight both to compete in the transfer market and to raise its commercial profile around the world. The positives are obvious but the question becomes what are you willing to sacrifice to gain such benefits?
Considering Liverpool’s own financial problems and their desire to build a new stadium, it would seem financial sense to share a stadium, on the same lines of the San Siro and Milan rivals Inter and AC, but such an outcome would not satisfy either fans. It is probably the most sensible option financially, but footballing wise completely unworkable in many people’s eyes. The search then must go on for another home. Staying at Goodison Park will only keep the status quo and Everton will continue to be a sleeping giant, but it is a prospect which will continue on for that bit longer now the Kirkby plan has been discontinued. The search for a new site, drawing up plans, designing a new stadium and applying for permission will take many more years and although some Everton fans will be relieved at not moving all the way out to Kirkby, there must be a question in their minds as to how long it will be before they are competing at the top of the league, if their club’s attempts to build a new home are scuppered again.