2412: Groundshare set for final rejection
0212: Ground share talks deadlocked
0112: Mersey duo near ground decision
2611: Benitez against share move
2611: Liverpool rule out sharing ground
2809: Parry's warning over new stadium
2709: Anfield go-ahead
0408: The new Anfield



Groundshare set for final rejection

By Scott Mcleod - Liverpool Echo

Everton and Liverpool met once again to discuss the Stanley Park ground-share issue last night.

It is believed to have been a final gathering before providing a definitive answer next week.

The clubs are expected to announce the ground-share is off the agenda once and for all.

Goodison chief executive Keith Wyness, his Liverpool opposite number Rick Parry and representatives from the North West Development Agency are believed to have attended last night's meeting.

It followed last month's summit with Sports Minister Richard Caborn in London.

The NWDA are keen to invest money in a ground development if it will be home to both clubs.

But that now looks doomed because Liverpool's Stanley Park plans are so far advanced and Everton are unwilling to contemplate anything less than a clear 50/50 split on ownership of the ground.

If there is no further government intervention there will be no further meetings.

That will allow Liverpool to press ahead with their plans for the 120m Stanley Park development and leave Everton free to explore the possibility of re-developing Goodison or finding a new home elsewhere.

Wyness (right) has confirmed there are no suitable sites for a new home currently available.

But the club is working with city council over the Goodison site, with talks taking place over the possibility of the club acquiring more land around the ground in order to extend to a potential 50,000 capacity.

Wyness revealed: "I think that without doubt the footprint would have to be expanded for us to do a sensible redevelopment, if we were to stay in this area.

"It is something I am giving a lot of attention to in terms of feasibility and looking at what can be done.

"There are a lot of things beginning to coincide which lead us to the conclusion that something will have to be done, either here or on a new site. It is inescapable for everybody.

"It has been coming for a long time. It is a question of whether it will be done here or elsewhere."

Ground share talks deadlocked

By Andy Kelly - Daily Post

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright last night ruled out the possibility of his club renting their ground from Liverpool after talks about the possibility of a Merseyside ground share ended in deadlock.

It now appears the issue will be decided once and for all by the end of December, though it is widely expected that no deal can be reached.

Mr Kenwright joined LFC chief executive Rick Parry, Sports Minister Richard Caborn, Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle and Regional Development Agency chairman Bryan Gray in London yesterday to discuss the shared stadium at the request of the Government.

While the obstacles to such an arrangement continue to look insurmountable, the clubs have agreed to make a final decision before the new year.

Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "All parties have agreed we will have one last look at the option of a ground share with a view to finalising our thoughts by the end of the year.

"It was an exploratory meeting and the ground share option is one of several under review by the club."

Liverpool already have planning permission for a new 60,000-capacity stadium in nearby Stanley Park but costs have gone up by 30m to around 110m.

The club has applied for a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) but it is thought that will only be available for a shared ground.

It is understood Liverpool might be happy to allow Everton to share the ground under a rental arrangement, but that is regarded as unacceptable by Everton fans and their own chairman.

After leaving the talks last night, Mr Kenwright said: "Everton are not interested in the slightest in renting from Liverpool. We're not interested in sharing their stadium, we are discussing a joint stadium. Those talks are ongoing."

Sources at Westminster said Mr Caborn - a long-time supporter of clubs sharing grounds wherever possible - had helped to "focus minds" at yesterday's meeting.

However, his role had been to offer advice to the two Merseyside clubs rather than to dangle carrots of Government help if they decided to go ahead.

The Sports Minister himself said: "It was a very interesting meeting. A number of things have been explored and it is now down to the clubs to make a decision on what they want to do.

"I am very hopeful they will do that before the end of the year."

Mersey duo near ground decision

Sporting Life

Liverpool and Everton will decide by the end of this month whether the two clubs can share a ground - but the obstacles to such an arrangement continue to look insurmountable.

Officials from the clubs met sports minister Richard Caborn in London on Wednesday morning to discuss the possibilities, and agreed to make a final decision before the new year.

The talks ended in deadlock, however, without a satisfactory solution being found.

Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said: "All parties have agreed we will have one last look at the option of a groundshare with a view to finalising our thoughts by the end of the year.

"It was an exploratory meeting and the groundshare option is one of several under review by the club."

Liverpool already have planning permission for a new 60,000-capacity stadium in nearby Stanley Park but are around 30million short of meeting the 110million cost and are due to announce debts of 21million at their annual general meeting tomorrow.

They have applied for a grant from the North West Development Agency (NWDA) but that is only available for a shared ground.

It is understood Liverpool would only be happy to allow Everton to share the ground under a rental arrangement, but that is regarded as unacceptable by Toffees fans who would want a 50% ownership share as a minimum requirement.

Caborn hopes the matter will now be resolved one way or the other.

He said: "It was a very interesting meeting. A number of things have been explored and it is now down to the clubs to make a decision on what they want to do.

"I am very hopeful that they will do that before the end of the year."

Wednesday's talks involved Caborn, Wyness, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright, Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry, NWDA head Bryan Gray and Liverpool Walton MP Peter Kilfoyle.

Benitez against share move

The Guardian

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez this afternoon declared his opposition to ground-sharing with Everton, just hours after sports minister Richard Carborn announced he will raise the issue with both clubs.

Caborn will hold talks next Wednesday with officials from the Merseyside clubs about the prospect of them sharing a new stadium in the city, but Benitez said: "It is not for me and I do not believe Liverpool or Everton fans want it."

Liverpool have planning permission to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium in Stanley Park. Originally estimated to cost 80million, it has risen to 110million, which has already halted talks between the club and third-largest shareholder Steve Morgan over a possible takeover.

Caborn has become involved because regional and local authorities want to explore the opportunity of building a shared stadium in time for 2008 when Liverpool will be the European city of culture. Benitez, however, is against such an idea, and claims it has been vetoed in many Spanish cities with two top teams.

"In my experience of these things, it does not work," said the former Valencia boss. "In Valencia there was talk about Levante and Valencia sharing the same stadium; in Seville it is the same. But always it is a problem.

"In Italy you see the pitches are always bad when this happens. You train more on it and play more games on it and for the supporters you can lose your identity.

"It is very difficult to see. Part of the good atmosphere in matches, and derbies, comes from having your own stadium and if you can that is what you should do.

"When I first decided to come here I was aware of the new ground plans; my first idea to come here was because I knew the club and what was important to their history for the board, chairman, chief executive and the players.

"I still hope that after five years in a new stadium we will be playing well and doing well. Sharing is not for me and not for our supporters - and I would think Everton supporters either." "People say it works in Milan, but the pitch is always bad, if you see it a lot of games cause a bad pitch. If it is not really needed then you should always do something different."

"My experience in Spain, from Madrid to Valencia to Barcelona, when you have two big teams with a lot of supporters they have an identity and prefer to play in their own stadiums."

"And when you see grounds that are shared, the pitch is never the best. Nowhere has it been mentioned do you find supporters agreeing, always they do not want it because they have their own identity."

Liverpool rule out sharing ground

BBC Sport Online

Liverpool have moved swiftly to reject any suggestion they would consider sharing their new stadium with Everton.

The Reds have always said they will not allow their neighbours to move into the new ground even if overheads mount - amid reports it is now costing 100m.

But the Department of Culture, Media and Sport claimed a meeting between the two clubs and Sports Minister Richard Caborn was set up.

Liverpool spokesman Ian Cotton said: "Our position remains unchanged."

A Department of Culture, Media and Sport spokesman had suggested that Caborn - receptive to the idea of ground shares - had been invited to discuss the issue with the two Merseyside clubs at a meeting next Wednesday.

Caborn has influence with the Regional Development Agency, which could provide some funds and Liverpool City Council is also keen to promote sharing.

"Mr Caborn has had a request to convene a meeting.

"He is more than willing to talk through the issues. He is generally behind the concept of ground-sharing and has supported the recent agreement between Leicester City and Leicester Tigers."

The cost of Liverpool's proposed new 60,000-seat stadium has risen from an original 80m to more than 100m, according to reports.

But Rick Parry, the Anfield chief executive, has said his club would pull out of building their new ground if costs spiralled, rather than share with Everton.

Everton previously had plans to build their own new ground at King's Dock but that was shelved due to cost.

Keith Wyness, the Everton chief executive, appeared to confirm that a meeting would be taking place.

He told the Liverpool Echo newspaper on Friday: "It is another one in a series of meetings related to that subject.

"We will be attending with an open mind to listen to any ideas that are put forward."

But Liverpool spokesman Cotton added: "We have asked the North West Development Agency to consider our grant application on the basis of our single club use of a new stadium. This is a point we have made repeatedly to the NWDA.

"This application isn't just about a new stadium. It is about a project which will act as a major catalyst for the regeneration of the whole of North Liverpool.

"It will bring proven benefits to the whole of the local community and it is time there were signs of real progress on delivering these."

Parry's warning over new stadium

By Paul Eaton - LFC Official Website

Rick Parry has spoken of his delight after the Reds were granted planning approval for a new stadium - but he's warned the Reds will pull out of the project if costs spiral out of control.

Liverpool yesterday overcame a "significant hurdle" in their bid to build a new stadium on Stanley Park when Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott decided against calling the scheme in for further scrutiny.

It means the city council's decision to grant planning permission will stand and that Liverpool could start building work sometime next year.

But Parry has warned the club will never spend more than it can afford to pay back and that there is still work to be done before the building begins.

He said: "It is good news for LFC and good news for the local community who want to see something happen. We are still confident of funding the project, but that is a separate issue entirely. The next step is to secure the funding, finalise the designs and then get on site by spring next year.

"You need to have a real project to attract funding and getting planning permission from the city council was a significant step in that respect and this is another.

"There is a higher cost involved, as is often the case with projects of this nature, but we are not commenting on what those costs are at this stage.

"We are confident of securing the funding but equally, as we have always said, we will only proceeed providing it is a viable project. We will not bankrupt ourselves or over-extend the club.

"It is not just a case of whether we can find the money, it is about whether we can pay it back."

Anfield go-ahead

By Neil Hodgson - Liverpool Echo

Liverpool's new 80m football stadium was given the green light today.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will not call the massive scheme in for scrutiny - meaning work can begin.

Council chiefs approved Liverpool Football Club's plans at the end of July, and if Mr Prescott's department had decided to examine the scheme it would have led to costly delays.

The Deputy Prime Minister's announcement today was the news councillors, Liverpool Football Club and fans had been praying for.

Liverpool council leader Mike Storey said: "This is brilliant news for the city of Liverpool and is about more than a football stadium."

He said it will mean new jobs, homes and investment.

A massive public consultation exercise two years ago found that more than 80% of residents were in favour of Liverpool's plans to move their ground from their current Anfield Road site to the car park end of nearby Stanley Park.

The site of the club's existing stadium will be redeveloped to improve the Anfield community.

Alan Blundell of Walton Breck Road Residents' Association presented a 1,700-name petition in favour of the development this year.

He said people had to realise that if Liverpool, the area's biggest employer, was forced to look elsewhere for a new ground, the effect could be devastating.

"It's not just the stadium, it's what it brings to the area as well."

Opponents, led by former Lib Dem Anfield councillor Joe Kenny, argued that Liverpool's plans would devastate the historic park. He was unavailable for comment today.

Speaking today as he arrived in Athens - where the Reds meet Olympiakos in a Champions League clash tomorrow - chief executive Rick Parry said: "It is extremely good news. It's a big step and it is not necessarily the last legal hurdle but it is a big significant hurdle that's been overcome.'

He added: "We are not expecting any further challenges.

"We will progress on schedule with the stadium coplete in 2007.

"We hope to begin the building work next spring, fingers crossed. There can still be applications for judicial review, but as far as I am concerned it is all systems go."

Cllr Storey added: "This massive project will lead to new jobs and homes and new investment and will help create the kind of facilities which Anfield has so desperately needed."

A council spokesman said today work could begin any time.

Liverpool's local rivals Everton will also be considering their next move after today ' s announcement.

They are keen to strike a ground- share partnership with Liverpool to eliminate running costs for their Goodison Park ground after plans for their own new arena on Kings Dock collapsed two years ago.

No-one from Liverpool FC was available for comment today.

The new Anfield

By Patra Mann - Liverpool Echo

This could be the new Anfield.

This design shows what the new stadium will look like if the scheme goes ahead.

City planners approved the scheme last Friday by a vote of six to two after an eight-hour meeting.

The final decision is with deputy prime minister John Prescott's office. He has one month in which he can call in the plan for a public inquiry.

Liverpool FC hope to start building work in Stanley Park at the start of next year.

The new stadium will have 60,000 seats, a museum and visitor centre and there will be a series of improvements to Stanley Park as part of a wider regeneration of the Anfield area.

Liverpool FC are putting 90m into the scheme, with the new ground located 300 yards from the current site on the eastern end of Stanley Park, next to Arkles Lane.

The old site will become Anfield Plaza with a mixed-use public area surrounded by a residential development, offices, cafes, bars, restaurants and a hotel.

Chief executive Rick Parry said: "The last thing that anyone would have wanted is to have more uncertainty. We want to get on with it."

Protesters are planning to mount a legal challenge to the new stadium amid fears the extra 15,000 seats will trigger traffic chaos.

Thor Zakariassen