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The tale of two talismans

By ESPN Staff

Kenwright hits back over Kirkby flak

Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has revealed his bitter frustration at being pilloried by fans and shareholders over the future home of the club.

Kenwright, also club owner, was accused at this week's AGM of being 'the man who has murdered the soul of the club' by even considering a move away from Goodison Park to nearby Kirkby, and a purpose-build 55,000-seater stadium in partnership with Tesco.

That possibility has enraged some fans who either want to see Goodison redeveloped or the Toffees move to a site close to the city centre on Scotland Road, as suggested by Liverpool City Council.

Despite all the uproar, chiefly based on fans' horror at leaving the city, Kenwright and his board are expected to reveal a detailed planning application for Kirkby shortly.

Kenwright, who has plead with fans to 'trust me', insists that redeveloping Goodison could cost twice as much as the move to Kirkby, while the club have been told by their advisors that the Scotland Road site is not big enough.

But Kenwright is still taking all the flak and he said: 'I expected this reaction, I was under no illusions and expected a passionate, angry meeting.

'I see a division between the fans, certainly at a meeting like we had. I'd be lying if I said I could not see it.

'I do not enjoy such occasions, not at all. How could I because I am getting brickbats thrown at me and often having conspiracy theories thrown at me.

'I am trying to say `I am not an idiot, I am one of you'. If there was a possibility of something different do you think I would not be going for it?

'We have consultants helping us, and the team we have brought in to look at these other schemes know what they are doing. You would think we had brought in Desperate Dan and Corky the Cat, they way people are talking.

'We have got the best in the business looking at all the options, including the Kirkby move.'

Kenwright insisted staying at Goodison is not out of the question.

He added: 'I have never said I would not consider rebuilding Goodison Park as a plan B. I am bored saying I don't want to leave Goodison, but we have a deliverable option.

'I have been talking to architects and planners even this week who think I am mad to even be thinking about staying at Goodison.

'They say it is not deliverable but we still get people standing up and saying they know better.

'If Kirkby does not work we do have a plan B. We are here, we will not be going anywhere until that is agreed and ready.

'I am not a developer, so I have to rely on the advice given. But I do know what happened the last time we moved a stand at this ground and we played with a three-sided ground, we nearly got relegated.

'But this time we would have to move four stands and redevelop the whole place. We would not be getting any help from anyone, certainly not Tesco.

'We would still end up, according to the experts, with a ground that is a 37,500 all-seater stadium and that would cost us double what Kirkby would.'

It has been suggested that rebuilding Goodison would cost £200m, and the complicated Scotland Road scheme would be even more expensive at £300m and would create massive infrastructure problems.

Kenwright said: 'I don't know whether it is £200m, or anything bigger, for what we would have to do here. But where would I find a bank or developer who would sign up to something like that in the current climate.

'Across the park Liverpool's people are trying to raise £400m and it is taking them months and months, and that is still ongoing.

'Good luck to them, they have their own plans and I will be interested to see what happens. But two years ago that project was £170m, then it started to go up and up.

'But at this club, if we state a figure that goes up by £10,000, we find ourselves being battered by people here.

'The world is about making a decision, finding what we have to go for. You have to make a decision, and this is a difficult one for me.

'We went to the fans to get permission to continue to discuss the Kirkby situation. And the vote came back with us being given that mandate.'