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Jun 27, 2013

Everton to consider new stadium

Everton are looking at a site for a potential new stadium near Goodison Park, the club's board have revealed.

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Chief executive Robert Elstone made the announcement at the club's first General Meeting of shareholders in five years, held at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall on Wednesday evening.

The club have been in "constant dialogue" with Liverpool City Council - and city mayor Joe Anderson - over a move to a new ground, Elstone said.

He said: "One piece of land has been thoroughly investigated by the club."

Chairman Bill Kenwright, who was also at the meeting, confirmed that the site identified is "close" to Goodison Park.

Kenwright added: "We've had strenuous meetings with a very supportive Joe Anderson and the council. Last time we spoke, I think there were six or seven sites - now there are two or three, and there's one that I would love. But again, it's down to the funding package."

Kenwright told the meeting he would prefer a move to a new home over a groundshare with Liverpool, but acknowledged that both were still long-term options.

"If we can take forward the [new stadium] idea we're looking at now, I think you [the supporters and shareholders] would be happier with that than sharing with the Reds," he said.

Everton's board have been looking at the possibility of leaving Goodison Park for more than 15 years, as their atmospheric home is hemmed in by surrounding streets and houses, offering little potential for expansion.

They first went public with plans to leave Goodison Park in 1996, when then-chairman Peter Johnson announced an idea 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 project.

The club then attempted to move forward on a £400 million stadium in Kirkby, to which the club would have contributed £78 million, but their plans were rejected by the UK government in 2009.

The proposal caused controversy because it would have involved moving the club out of Liverpool for the first time in their history.

Supporters from the campaign group 'Keep Everton In Our City' opted to oppose the plan, as did residents in Kirkby.

John Denham, the then-Communities Secretary, turned down the proposal - which would have included a Tesco supermarket and shops in addition to a 50,000 capacity stadium - citing potential harmful effects on the local area.

He stated that the move would have breached government shopping policy, which discourages major supermarket chains from taking business away from town and city centres.

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