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The new Everton chief executive is keen to explore the notion of ground-sharing with local rivals Liverpool and believes Merseyside could be the one place in Britain where the concept might work on a permanent basis.
In views that may prove controversial with some of the club's supporters, Keith Wyness argued that finding a new ground was paramount to achieving success after years of under-achievement.
“Goodison has so many fundamental flaws that a new stadium is crucial,” Wyness said, in his first in-depth interview since arriving at the club from Aberdeen last week. “I think ground-sharing must be explored, not just for Everton but for Merseyside in general. It is only one option but for all concerned it should be exhausted.”
So far, Liverpool have been lukewarm about the idea, building on their superior success rate by developing their own stadium project, and many fans of both clubs would vehemently oppose using the same ground.
But Wyness argued that it made eminent commercial sense to ground-share, as local rivals do most notably in the footballing hotbed of Milan. “A stadium working every weekend makes financial common sense,” he said. “If it's going to happen anywhere in Britain, Merseyside is probably the one place where it could.” However: “We would only go in as an equal partner.”
In wide-ranging and hard-hitting remarks, Wyness also warned that the club which has startled observers with its unexpectedly fine start to the Premiership season could not afford to spend too much of the £30m it will receive from selling Wayne Rooney to Manchester United on new players. With debts still totalling about £40m, it was essential to balance the books before chasing new blood.
“A huge culture change is needed, but turning the old tanker round will take time,” he said. “Everton has been dwelling on the past and it is about instilling a youth and energy back into the club and focusing on what is important for the business.”
“The first job is to stem the bleeding and get a handle on the costs that are going out of the club. That's what we did at Aberdeen. If you get it right off pitch, it impacts on what is happening on it. We are fully aware the squad is very low in numbers and badly needs strengthening but the long-term viability and security of the club has to come first. Close behind comes supporting the manager but it's too early to say what portion of the Rooney money will be available to the manager.”
Wyness emphasised that the position of the highly-rated David Moyes as manager was pivotal to the club's immediate future. “David is forward-driven, focused, young and energetic and typifies exactly what we need on and off the pitch,” he said. “He has clearly had a full and frank discussion with the squad after what happened last season. There seems to have been a genuine coming together. At this level, so much is psychological and he seems to have built a great team spirit. We are in a post-Rooney era.”
Although Wyness' predecessor, Trevor Birch, resigned after only six weeks following a rumoured boardroom spat, the new man at the helm insists Everton are no poisoned chalice and have enormous commercial potential. “I see it differently to Trevor,” Wyness said. “I see the glass half-full and want to give the fans pride in how the club is run. This is a club with great assets commercially as well as emotionally but I can't look a potential investor in the eye until we know it is running properly as a business.”
He is undisturbed by all the stories linking Liverpool with a variety of prospective investors over recent months. “I genuinely believe we are by far the better investment and I have a clear idea of where I want to go, including doubling the turnover,” he said.
“Obviously we have some debts but longer-term we are by far the better prospect for growth than Liverpool because any investor would be buying low in the market. With Liverpool, they'd be buying high in terms of valuation.”
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