When Everton were last at the design stage of a stadium move, thoughts of what would happen to Goodison Park centred mostly around whether or not Tesco would pay cash or cheque. This time around, it is so very, very different.
Not only do the designs of the proposed stadium at Bramley Moore Dock represent the kind of gigantic leap Everton have made since the dark days of exclusivity deals with JJB Sports and magically disappearing £58m gifts, but the plans for Goodison Park do also.
Gone are the days when a few million quid from a supermarket would be enough to take Goodison Park off our hands. Today, plans were unveiled that will set the standard for how football clubs should leave their old grounds if they move.
Too many iconic stadiums around the country have been lost to faceless housing estates, supermarkets, or left to ruin.
Not so, Goodison Park.
The initial plans for when Everton leave are as stunning as the plans for the new stadium. Plans to leave behind a community hub, affordable housing, help for business start-ups, and a partnership with a health provider are just a few initiatives that Everton plan to leave behind at Goodison Park.
Football clubs from around Europe have already contacted the Blues to see what they are doing, so that it can be emulated abroad, and Everton, and Everton in the Community are setting a high bar to match.
As proud as all that makes me as an Evertonian and a socialist, it is the protection of Everton’s Goodison Park heritage that makes me most proud.
The centre circle will forever remain as grassland. It will remain a constant reminder of the history that happened around it. It will be a playground for future generations from L4 to play in, and it will be a Mecca for Evertonians to bring their own future generations to hear tales of times gone by.
Where fans of some other clubs might have to take their children or grandchildren to the frozen aisle in Asda to talk about the history that unfolded on that spot, Evertonians will be able to take the next generations to the centre circle and relive their fondest memories, ensuring that the link between past and present remains.
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