I speak on behalf of the Shankly family when I say that we are wholeheartedly behind The Spirit Of Shankly. - Karen Gill, March 2008
1) The Football Quarter, what’s it all about?
It’s about the establishment of a district in Liverpool; centred on Stanley Park, it will embrace the areas of Anfield and Walton. With the two clubs stadia acting as anchors, attractors if you like, it’s envisaged that educational, recreational, leisure and community facilities will be developed to exploit and provide for the inevitable draw it will represent.
2) So it’s not about a shared stadium?
No, definitely not, it’s an area designed to celebrate, strengthen and promote our world famous duopoly; a shared stadium would be seen as a dilution of the unique selling point. We’re fully familiar with the shared debate; we even know the answers to some of the technical problems, maybe even most of the cultural ones. Architects and engineers can solve anything; what won’t be solved is the fact that there’s a massive commercial disparity between the clubs; it’s simple really, Liverpool, as a brand, has massive international appeal, they need a stadium designed to exploit this; Everton are known as the peoples club, in the main they draw their support from the city, Wirral and North Wales, through stealth and guile they compete at the top table in the premiership, these qualities need to be built into their own individual stadiums.
3) But the local politicians and agencies such as the NWDA appear to favour this shared approach don’t they?
It’s been put forward certainly, undoubtedly because, taken at face value, it appears the logical solution; our view is that it’s little more than a debating platform, a political football that, if given oxygen, will be kicked around for another decade. We’ve come together to say enough is enough; the councils and the clubs haven’t delivered for the supporters or the communities over the past decade; we aim to cut through all the egos, cut though all the red tape and overcome any intransigence preventing the north end of the city gaining rightful regeneration and becoming an international destination as are other locations within the city region. Of course some of the elements of the shared stadium philosophy should be adopted, there should be a sharing of infrastructure and no doubt there will be a sharing of the facilities available throughout the quarter, by the clubs. The simple belief is that the quarter idea is a better idea than anything that has been proposed before.
4) What about talk of a Liverpool being a sports city?
Yes, again it’s a good idea, the city region has many excellent world class events, the Grand National clearly springs to mind as do the golf courses capable of holding the British open; but once again whilst they’re great events they don’t attract hundreds of thousands the way the football clubs do for nine months of every year; we’d see the football quarter acting as another tourist attraction when these events are taking place in the region; there shouldn’t be a dilution of a great concept for one off events.
5) Whose idea was it?
It really is a joint initiative; a couple of seasons ago KEIOC and SoS shared a platform at a debate during the writing on the wall festival. A chance remark over how people would really listen if fans spoke as one, the work on redevelopment that the groups architectural advisors had independently undertaken and the subsequent identification of the synergy between the groups in their understanding of how big business interests had, in different ways, failed their respective clubs, led to a small strategy group lobbying and meeting with the council and other potential stakeholders over the past twelve months which led to the creation of the Football Quarter concept.
6) How much will it cost, where’s the finance coming from and how will the clubs benefit?
The reason we’re requesting a full and comprehensive feasibility study is to identify these very issues. What is being proposed is that all stakeholders be involved in this totally independent study; determining the scope of the report will be essential to the accuracy and relevance of the reports outcome. As previously explained Everton’s and Liverpool’s requirements are very different; these need to be identified and taken into account. We’re proposing that Everton and Liverpool fans also have an opportunity to have an input at this stage. Whilst the report will identify the most effective and efficient sources of finance, obviously it goes without saying that a combination of public private finance initiatives will form the backbone of the investment needed. One possible source of income the clubs could obtain is for a series of levies or taxes to be placed on all sales within the quarter; stay in a hotel, buy a souvenir or dine at a restaurant and a percentage of the bill will go to the clubs.
7)Are you saying that Evertonians will have a say in Liverpool and vice versa?
No, we’re not saying that at all; the two groups involved have no involvement in matters in opposing camps; it’s been an agreement since day one. We respect the duopoly.
8)What are the groups proposing for their respective clubs?
KEIOC are proposing Everton redevelop their current stadium into a SMART stadium that is sympathetic to the needs of the club, its supporters and the local community. A SMART stadium is one that generates significant income on the 340 days a year when football isn’t being played. This will accommodate the new UEFA financial fair play regulations where all clubs will be required to limit their spending and borrowing to what they earn. A phased redevelopment, with no loss of capacity, would be the most affordable option for Everton.
There are two options for Liverpool. Spirit of Shankly have been shown it is possible to redevelop Anfield into a 70,000 plus super stadium, with corporate facilities capable of maximising the potential of their fanbase and corporate draw; their architect has been developing a plan that would see a phased redevelopment with no loss of capacity during the season. The other option would see Liverpool build a new stadium in the park; both options can be accommodated within the concept of the Football Quarter.
9)What else will be on offer in the Football Quarter?
With the club’s acting as the anchors, places people can visit where five European Cups have been won or where Dixie Dean played his football; grounds where Pele, Eusebio, Beckenbauer, Cruyff, Best, European Championships and World Cup games have been played. The area will have educational facilities which could include faculties of sport science and business, spread throughout the site, supported by the famous local universities, local schools and promoted internationally as the place to study football. The world’s young footballers can come to our clubs and gain valuable degrees in sports science and business.
Public realm would include recreational facilities involving improved pitches and public practice and coaching areas; the massive footfall into the area would attract private companies to provide the leisure facilities; football/sport themed they would include museums, bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels; Social amenities would provide the local community with additional health care, advice and community centres catering for the social needs of local families in a dramatically improved physical and economic environment.
10) What’s the timeline?
Both clubs have been attempting to address their stadium problems for more than a decade, the council are also involved in this and need to shoulder some of the responsibility of not providing the leadership required when dealing with the clubs who are, whilst private companies, important civic assets of the city region. We’re adopting a no nonsense approach, we want to see the feasibility study underway within months not years; it’s time for the talking to stop and the action to begin.
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