Recent comments from the leader of Liverpool city council suggest they will put pressure on Everton and Liverpool to share a new stadium in the city. Other than the economic advantages of a shared venue the council want a major new stadium in the city to host games in the 2018 World Cup should England host the tournament.
But both clubs are highly skeptical of this idea with Everton going ahead with plans for a stadium at Kirkby, just outside the city, and Liverpool still keen to desecrate Stanley Park for their new ground. However, Everton’s plans have yet to get the all-clear and Liverpool’s owners are fast running out of borrowed money, so a compromise may have to be considered despite the feelings of clubs and fans.
Sports fans are very protective about their stadiums and very few would like to share. Although it happens in a few cities around the world most fans of clubs with long histories and rivalries are especially loathe to move in with their ‘mortal enemies’. Although their rivalry isn’t so poisonous as many others most Everton and Liverpool fans draw the line at the idea of sharing a home. Everton’s Goodison Park and Liverpool’s Anfield are separated by Stanley Park, which acts as an oasis of calm between the cities two sporting hotbeds.
Everton are the older team in the city and founder members of the football league. It isn’t widely know that Everton spent eight years playing at Anfield from 1884-92 and even won their first championship at the ground in 1891. But the owner of the ground, John Houlding, had raised the annual rent from £100 to £250 per year causing Everton to move in 1882 to what would become Goodison Park. Houlding responded by forming a new team, Liverpool AFC, and charging them £100 per annum to play at Anfield.
Goodison soon became the first major football ground in England. In the 1890’s crowd’s of 30,000 weren’t uncommon at Everton at a time when such attendances were considered huge. The ground went on to host the 1894 FA Cup Final and 1910 FA Cup Final replay. Goodison Park continued to develop with stands designed by the famous stadium architect Archibald Leitch. The biggest crowd at the stadium was 78,299 for a game with Liverpool in 1948. Goodison was chosen to stage games at the 1966 World Cup including a Quarter final and Semi final.
Anfield also grew into a major stadium with the Kop standing terrace becoming famous throughout the football world. Their record crown of 61,905 came in an FA Cup tie against Wolves in 1952.
With the advent of all-seater stadia both grounds capacities have shrunk in recent years. Everton can only get 40,000 into Goodison and Liverpool’s limit is around 45,000. Both stadiums are surrounded by housing with little limit to expand, hence the plans to move. But the day they do will be a sad one for devotees of either team.