By Oliver Lincoln
Merseyside hasn’t been a happy place to be in the football world recently, after Liverpool exited the Champions League group stage with a game to spare not to mention dropping off the pace in the Premier League. While Everton have been struggling with injuries and after losing back to back against Hull and Liverpool, their plans for a new stadium were rejected planning permission.
So what could solve the misery on the Mersey, one suggested solution is a ground share. Both Merseyside teams have been looking to move grounds for a few years now and without a new bigger stadium both sides will fall behind the Arsenal’s, Manchester United’s and even Tottenham’s of this world, who have large amounts of money coming in with every home game.
However when Everton last week suggested a ground share, in the style of the San Siro and the two Milan’s it was rejected by their neighbours and rivals Liverpool. On the other hand with Rafa Benitez’s side also struggling to find a new home, might it be better for the two sides to compromise and help each other out with a great new stadium on Merseyside.
The Milan derby hasn’t lost any of its rivalry even though they share the same stadium and both Milan sides remain constants in the Champions League and without a new stadium it is very possible that both Liverpool and Everton could get left behind, it already looks like David Moyes might have reached the glass ceiling at Goodison and Liverpool are having one of their worst seasons in recent memory.
Arguments against it include whether or not Liverpool and Everton have the same needs, like, for example, sizes of shops in the stadium, hospitality areas and the personality of the stadium, pointing towards the big grey San Siro as a negative example, but these are all side issues that can be dealt with in the planning, what is the main issue is the rivalry between the two sides and whether or not they can push that to one side and come to an agreement.
In my personal opinion, I don’t think either side can afford not to move in to a ground share. Liverpool don’t have the money to build a new stadium and any hope of a new owner looks bleak at best especially since Dubai’s financial troubles and if this season a top 4 finish doesn’t happen then the money issues at Anfield will greatly intensify. So far this season, it looks as if David Moyes may have taken Everton as far as he can without further financial backing that either a new owner or a new ground could bring.
While Liverpool may be resisting the joint stadium, if things don’t go to plan this season, results could force their hand and bring about an acceptance of Everton’s offer. Goodison is clearly not big enough to hold Everton’s ambitions and in David Moyes they have a manager who has equally high ambitions and he probably couldn’t get a better club so he would be wise to stick with the project that he is in with Everton. Liverpool’s troubles have been well documented and look like having to sell before they can buy so the question is, can both of these sides realise that they need to stop being stubborn and think rationally about how realistic their own stadium plans are, if it’s a negative realisation then a shared ground could well be the way forward.