Everton FC computer generated image of proposed new Knowsley stadium _320
EVERTON FC holds long- term aims to expand its proposed new stadium in Kirkby to a capacity of 75,000, the Daily Post can reveal.
The club is currently in detailed negotiations to relocate from its current home at Goodison Park to a 50,000-to- 55,000-seater ground in Kirkby town centre.
But, in a recent confidential meeting with Liverpool council officials, Everton chief executive Keith Wyness said the club wanted a site which was capable of expansion to 75,000 seats in the longer term if success on the pitch allows it.
Mr Wyness told the meeting the desire for that expansion – albeit some years hence – was one of the reasons why an alternative site at the tunnel “Loop”, off Scotland Road, was not acceptable as a potential new home for the club.
The Loop site, owned by Bestway, was seen by Liverpool council and leader Warren Bradley as the best option to try to keep Everton within the city boundaries.
Last night the club would not comment, but has always said the site was too small for their own ambitions.
A spokesman for Knowsley Council said as far as the authority was concerned the Kirkby stadium would have between 50,000 and 55,000 seats and no more.
There is no suggestion Everton have any imminent plans to expand the proposals, and indeed could not afford such a move currently.
But Mr Wyness was criticised for “moving the goalposts” by Bestway’s head of property, Malcolm Carter.
He said: “At no stage has 75,000 ever been mentioned publicly, why has he moved the goalposts? Our own work by specialists HoK shows our site could hold a 55,000- 60,000 stadium which is what we were asked to work towards.
“I am frustrated and fed up. We’re passionate about the regeneration of the area around our site. We’re doing this for the right reasons but Everton have not returned my calls or agreed to meet me. By all means dismiss the site, but at least consider it.
“I have remained loyal to the project and we’re still putting money into it. The council are grateful we’re still there. But I’m reaching the point where we will look at other options for the site.”
Everton also believe the need for extensive engineering work around the tunnel site, including building a plinth, would make it prohibitively expensive, though this view is not shared by Bestway.
Liverpool FC already harbours ambitions to expand its proposed new 60,000 stadium on Stanley Park, which recently received planning permission, to beyond 75,000.
A majority of Everton fans voted in favour of the move to Kirkby in August and extensive consultation is already under way in the Kirkby area.