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 By Mike Whalley

Everton hopeful over new stadium plans

LIVERPOOL -- Everton are "cautiously optimistic" about plans to leave Goodison Park for a new 50,000-capacity stadium, chief executive Robert Elstone says.

Goodison Park has been Everton's home since 1892
Goodison has been Everton's home for more than 120 years.

The club originally confirmed in June last year that they were looking at potential sites for a new home with the help of Liverpool City Council.

Goodison Park, Everton’s home since 1892, has a capacity of 39,571, few corporate facilities to generate extra revenue and little room for expansion, as it is hemmed in by housing.

Elstone, speaking at the club’s annual general meeting at the Liverpool Philarmonic Hall on Tuesday night, said that one particular location for a new ground was being focused on above others.

He declined to say where it was, but reports suggest that it is Walton Hall Park, a site less than a mile north of Everton’s current home.

Elstone told the meeting: "The stadium remains a big priority.

"We’re not ruling out any of the sites that we’ve identified and that the council has presented to us, but there is one site which is getting more attention and has been getting more attention for a number of months.

"It has been worked on very carefully, diligently and in some detail by not only Everton, but by the council and by advisers, planners, architects, designers, cost consultants, regeneration experts and solicitors. So there’s a lot of work going into something that we’re very excited about.

"We need a council being supportive financially and supportive entrepreneurially as well. At the moment there are signs that they are being that, and that’s to be welcomed and we’re delighted with that.

"We hope it comes to fruition and, if it does, I think it’s something that the city and our fans will be very proud of."

He added: "The board is currently looking not only at this opportunity but also the associated risks and the debt that the club may well have to take on to deliver this, which may or may not be the right thing to do.

"That’s exactly where we are in terms of the project at the moment -- that consideration is ongoing by the board.

"But, in summary, there’s a degree of optimism -- perhaps some cautious optimism -- but a degree of optimism."

Everton have been considering a move away from Goodison Park for nearly two decades.

They first went public with plans to leave their current home in 1996, when then-chairman Peter Johnson announced proposals to build a new 60,000-capacity stadium.

Plans were drawn up for a 55,000-seater stadium at King’s Dock, on the city’s waterfront, in 2001 – but were abandoned two years later as the club could not raise enough money to fund their share of the 155 million pounds project.

A proposed move to Kirkby, mooted in 2006, caused controversy because it would have involved moving the club out of the city for the first time in their history.

The plan was scrapped in 2009 after a planning application was rejected by the UK government.

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright pledged last June that any new stadium would be in Liverpool.

Speaking on Tuesday, Elstone warned that the major obstacle towards building a new ground would be finding the money – with the club looking to sell the naming rights to help fund the project.

He said: "It’s exciting but there is a word of caution. What’s critical in terms of bringing this to fruition is how much this will cost us.

"It’s important we build it as cost efficiently as possible. We will need to do a great naming rights deal and we will also need to bring on board partners in the public and private sector to make the thing stack up."


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