Thursday 19 September 2019

Liverpool mayor hits back at Everton chief over new stadium comments

Everton are planning a move away from Goodison Park
Everton are planning a move away from Goodison Park

Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson has rejected Everton chief executive Robert Elstone's suggestion that the city council is delaying progress towards the club having a new stadium.

Momentum behind Everton's planned move to a new home at Walton Hall Park has stalled, 14 months after being announced in September 2014.

Speaking on Monday evening, Elstone said the onus for what he called a ''regenerative project'' which would bring huge financial benefit to the area could not exclusively be placed on the football club.

At Everton's annual general meeting, Elstone criticised the council for dragging its heels. Anderson swiftly hit back on Twitter, and on Tuesday expanded on Liverpool City Council's point of view.

Anderson said in a statement: "I was disappointed that people were left with the impression that the council and other partners were not fully in support or part of a true partnership. I don't recognise that view.

"As mayor of the city, I wish to set straight some of the issues which were not communicated to last night's meeting.

"Many people would love to see a new stadium, new housing, a better park and new community facilities at Walton Hall Park. Some would prefer the park to remain the way it currently is."

He said that Everton must show they have £300million to fund the project, and the project must come with a "regeneration scheme", have a developer in place, and a planning application, all of which he said it was lacking.

Anderson added: " Once these are in place, of course we will support, facilitate and work together to move the project forward, in the same way that we did with Liverpool FC for their recent the Anfield stadium expansion.

"Some people seem to be forgetting that it is not the job of the council to finance and deliver a major regeneration scheme of the type proposed, including a potential new stadium for Everton Football Club. Nobody should be in any doubt about the horrendous financial situation that the council is facing."

Questioning the Premier League club's motivation for going public with such criticism, Anderson said: " It is sad that Everton FC chose to question mine and the council's integrity and commitment publicly.

"As a city we have helped Everton with Finch Farm and took the controversial decision to support a regeneration project with a stadium on Walton Hall Park. The evidence of our commitment to supporting Everton is there for all to see.

"As mayor I am totally committed to helping, within reason, this project if it meets the wider regeneration needs of the area or indeed any other solution the club may propose.

"I await sight of those plans."

PA Media

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