Everton FC News: ROBERT ELSTONE hopes the change of leadership at Liverpool City Council can help push forward Everton’s plans for a new stadium.
The Labour Party swept to power in the city following last week’s elections, ending 12 years of Liberal Democrat rule.
Having seen their Destination Kirkby project scuppered in November, Everton had already held talks with former council chiefs to find a site for a new stadium within the city boundaries.
New council leader Joe Anderson is a Goodison season-ticket holder and was an outspoken critic of the proposed move to Knowsley.
And Everton chief executive Elstone is keen to begin “fresh and progressive” dialogue with Cllr Anderson and his party.
“Hopefully, discussions with Liverpool City Council and the newly-elected Labour leader will be exciting,” said Elstone.
“The truth is the city council does hold the key to a new stadium; a new stadium that’s so important to us to keep pace at the top of the Premier League.
“It’s going over old ground, but Goodison’s redevelopment has an uncertain time frame, an uncertain cost, restricted funding streams and no guarantee, ultimately, of success.
“It’s also worth pointing out that design is not our current challenge. Well-intentioned as they might be, plans such as the so-called ‘Siamese Stadium’ don’t really take us anywhere.
“There are many, many versions of what our new stadium should look like, either on its own, at Goodison or elsewhere, shared or ‘joined at the hip’ and when such schemes receive media backing, inevitably the expectations of our fans are falsely raised.”
Despite the failure of the Kirkby project, which would have been part-funded by supermarket giants Tesco, Elstone admits the financial model remains the most viable method of attaining a new stadium.
“What is very evident, to bring a stadium to life is a Kirkby-type funding model with substantial private sector support facilitated by a supportive and progressive city council,” said the chief executive.
“‘Being ‘supportive’, in my view, needs the council to fully appreciate the significance and contribution made by Everton Football Club to the city and its communities; an indisputable fact that all too often seems to be overlooked.
“We look forward to fresh and progressive dialogue which centres on the delivery of a funding model and an affordable stadium.”
Elstone also revealed the Goodison board have yet to determine the budget for manager David Moyes during the forthcoming summer transfer window, but believes the onus will again be on Moyes and chairman Bill Kenwright to negotiate value-for-money deals.
“As we finalise budgets, and identify funds, we move into the player market and consider the existing playing squad with the sole objective of starting 2010-11 with a stronger, more competitive squad than the season just finished,” said Elstone.
“It’s a tough job with budgets less than the majority of our rivals and when faced perhaps with smaller pockets than the clubs above us, skill and hard work are the only ways to compensate and make up those deficits.
“Skill identifying talent and skill negotiating deals is critical and our chairman and our manager have over 20 years combined experience.
“That experience is envied by all our rivals and that experience has secured our best squad in years.”
Meanwhile, Everton of Chile have expressed their delight at the prospect of travelling to Goodison for a pre-season friendly on Wednesday, August 4.
Antonio Bloise Ramos, President of Everton Chile, said: “Our supporters have been eagerly awaiting such a game for a long time now.
“The official announcement of the game certainly didn’t go unnoticed here in Viña del Mar and the realisation that the game will go ahead has caused widespread excitement. It will be a great honour for our club, and for all Chilean Evertonians, to head to the land of our roots and see where 100 years of fruitful history began.”