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Opinion : Reds and Toffees must be united to beat United

AllianzArenaI’m boarding up my windows tonight, putting the car in a secret lock up and probably going to ask the police if my family and I can go into a witness protection programme. Why? Well because of this article I’m going to write. You see, I live near Liverpool. Very near. If I look out of my window, I can see the Liverbirds most days, the proud guardians of the city and symbols of Liverpool’s proud heritage. A heritage which, of course, included two world famous and successful Premier League football teams at one time.  Liverpool and Everton.

But not at the moment.

It seems incongruess that while Liverpool the city has taken massive steps forward in recent times, emerging from the dark days of the 1980’s as a vibrant, thriving, cosmopolitan city, the football clubs, who for so long were the proud flagship of the entire community, have fallen by the wayside. A quick straw poll of fans of both Everton and Liverpool will see many issues named as the root cause. For Everton it is a lack of money, the new ground proposal being rejected or injuries wiping out half a first team squad. For Reds fans it’s a lack of money, the American owners, Rafa’s questionable decision making, injuries to Gerrard and Torres, a lack of squad depth, a lack of confidence and form or a lack of a new ground and while many of these reasons can be viewed as a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact that both clubs, at the moment, are struggling financially to match the bigger Premier League sides. A fact which has merely been exacerbated by the current credit crunch worldwide.

The answer? Well, both clubs it seemed had the answer. Build a brand new stadium each, costing hundreds of millions of pounds. Both would be smaller than the club ideally needs but what the hell? Anything so long as we don’t have to share with THEM.

And this for me is the problem. I’m proud to come from where I do. There is a great deal to be proud of on Merseyside, despite what other fans may think. The same is true I know of London, Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham etc. However what baffles me is the screeching indignant tones any Liverpool or Everton fan takes when the notion of a shared ground is even vaguely mooted. This maniacal hypocrisy of sharing your home with an Evertonian, but not wanting the clubs to share a ground is the root of the problem and why Everton and Liverpool fans, so dead set against the idea, need to grow up and gain a little perspective.

Yes, in an ideal world, I’d love Liverpool and Everton to have their own grounds. They are both big enough to warrant it. The potential for them to be as big as Man Utd and Man City or Chelsea, Arsenal & Tottenham is there. The fans of those other clubs can laugh at that if they like, but it is true. Liverpool and Everton are just as big across the world as you are. So the self-satisfied smugness can be wiped from your faces too. The problem is, this isn’t an ideal world. Everton don’t have the finance, or even the planning permission, to build their stadium. Liverpool don’t have the finance to build theirs, and remember that was a watered down, smaller version of the stadium the club actually felt it needed (which was, I believe a 70,000 capacity stadium, not 50-odd thousand, or whatever it was).

So why not join forces and build one stadium that meets the needs of both clubs and will propel both clubs onto an even playing field with United, Chelsea & Co? Why is this simple solution met with such furious indignation? It’s not because of the logic or logistics. Liverpool and Everton are as near neighbours as you can get. Hardly a mile between them and handily enough, Liverpool have planning permission to build on the park that lies almost halfway between the two existing grounds. Middle ground? You bet Stanley Park is.

Finance? If the clubs pool their resources then they are in a much stronger position to be able to afford the development of a ground which not only matches their needs, but could even exceed it. Liverpool currently have a season ticket waiting list of 10-14,000 people. Anfield is filled to its 45,500 capacity for every home game almost. Add onto that a number of casual fans who can’t even get tickets if they wanted to (like me) for games, and it is easy to see why a 70,000 capacity stadium is the minimum required. What is the use then of building a new Anfield that holds 55,000 or 60,000? It is a compromise caused by finance and obstinacy.

The Allianz Arena in Germany is the answer. It can be lit Red for Bayern Munich home games, Blue for 1860 Munich and white for National team games. It is a fantastic stadium, an edifice and a world leader. Liverpool could have this for its two clubs. They’d share the running costs (which would help financially for both clubs), they’d get more fans every week, they’d generate far more revenue, they’d have a stadium the envy of every club in the country. You never know, they may start actually winning things again.

But why have that when petty rivalry is so much more appealing?

It isn’t that Liverpool and Everton cannot share a ground. It is simply that a significant majority of fans won’t. It is this pig-headed obstinacy, dressed up as some kind of all-pervading love of the club, at the expense of logic and common sense that I can’t abide. It shows a total lack of foresight, a lack of understanding and a total disregard for the long term future of the club all to uphold some petty local vendetta against people, 50% of whom, you can count amongst your friends.

So Liverpool, Everton fans, if you want to be as successful as Manchester United, or have the money of Chelsea or Manchester City, the first thing to do isn’t to get a new stadium. The first thing to do is drop the petty vendetta’s, then maybe, just maybe, progress can be made.

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Article title: Opinion : Reds and Toffees must be united to beat United

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