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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec, 4, 2007

Everton owner under attack over stadium move

Everton owner Bill Kenwright faced a barrage of criticism at the club's annual general meeting tonight over the plans to leave Goodison Park and move to a new stadium in nearby Kirkby. Kenwright, also club chairman, walked into a hail of objections from a packed meeting, and was accused by one shareholder of 'being the man who murdered the soul of Everton.' He was also told by another shareholder 'you will be the death of the club.' Feelings have been running high for months as Everton have entered into discussions with Tesco and the authorities in Kirkby - significantly outside the city boundaries - over a new home for the Toffees. And Kenwright was forced to concede that if the Kirkby plan does not happen, then Everton will have a plan B of reconsidering a redevelopment plan for Goodison. The problem for Everton is that Liverpool City Council have suggested an alternative site close to the city centre on Scotland Road. However, it is believed that any rebuilding of Goodison will cost around £250million, while the Kirkby project will cost around £150million. Kenwright told shareholders: 'I do listen to the fans, I don't want to leave Goodison either. 'But we have had no confirmation of the cost of the Scotland Road site, and we have also been told that it is not big enough for a 50,000 seater stadium.' The board also had Chris Potts, their planning consultant, on hand to answer complaints, and he said: 'I believe the site is too small and will be a complicated construction involving building over road. 'The cost of that, although we have had no figures, will be hugely more than the Kirkby project.' But Kenwright said: 'If the Kirkby project does not happen, then the plan B will be to look again at Goodison Park. 'And I suppose that the Scotland Road site would have to become a plan C.' But it is known that with a mandate from the fans to continue negotiations on the Kirkby project, the board intend to continue on that path, with the prospect of a detailed planning application shortly. Shareholders also had the chance to confirm as a new director Robert Earl, the Hollywood entrepreneur behind the Planet Hollywood chain. Earl, who admitted to being 56 and a 'former' Tottenham fan, told the meeting: 'I have long been an admirer of Bill, and this club has fantastic potential. 'I have already invested several million and stood as a guarantee with the board to increase the club's overdraft. 'There is incredible potential on the pitch and I have spent time with (manager) David Moyes - and have been impressed with him as well. Everton announced a £500,000 operating loss, compared to a £3.5million profit in 2006, but chief executive Keith Wyness said that was 'a very small amount' in Premier League terms. Manager Moyes also underlined the spending policy of the club, adding: 'We are not big spenders, but we are good spenders. 'When I arrived at the club we had 10 players over 30, now it is around five. 'The average age is now 25 and I want to take it lower than that. 'When I arrived our aim was to stay out of the bottom six, now the aim is to get into the top six.'

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