Ever since 1996 there have been rumblings that Everton could be ready to leave Goodison Park behind and move on to pastures new. First, there was the proposed move to King’s Dock. Next came tentative plans to return to where it all started back in 1878 in Stanley Park in a ground-sharing scheme with Liverpool FC. Once again, these plans failed to materialise. Then was the awful threat of a move to Kirkby, which was quoshed by fan groups in a Public Inquiry.
But now the club is edging ever nearer to getting the go-ahead for the 53,000 seater stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock. The hopes are that this won’t simply be at the heart of the regeneration for the whole north side of the Mersey but that it will also signal an uplift in the fortunes of Everton both on and off the pitch.
Looking at the Premier League odds in the middle of September of 100/1 against a top-four finish in the 2020/21 season, it certainly looks like something needs to boost the prospects. Yet, it won’t be for many seasons to come as the development, if and when it’s approved, will take up to four years to complete.
While the people’s project aims to create up to 15,000 jobs and generate an extra 1.5 million a year in visitor numbers to the city, the hopes are that it will also represent something of a renaissance in the club. But one shouldn’t let recent history dictate these things, as both Liverpool and Manchester City demonstrated in recent seasons when they triumphed after many years of not quite making it.
There may be cause to be optimistic that a move to a new venue could see an upturn in results for a number of reasons. The first of these is the pride that it generates in a team. Coming out onto a pristine new pitch in front of 53,000 spectators is sure to see players trying that little bit harder, seizing the slimmest of chances to score and being more resolute in defence.
Similarly, fans who suddenly find that the facilities are new and purpose-built for the 21st century, instead of being adapted from ones built in the 19th century, will undoubtedly find it even easier to really get behind the team that they’ve supported through thick and thin.
This might all sound deeply theoretical, but one only has to look at how other teams have performed following a move to a new stadium. A prime example is Manchester City whose fortunes suddenly improved following a move to the Etihad. Cynics might say that this was simply a question of the investment made by Sheikh Mansour. But, as Paris Saint Germain have discovered, money alone can’t buy results.
So, while the prospect of moving into a new stadium may still be a long way off, there are good reasons for Everton to start getting into the mindset of success. And, just maybe, that success may arrive far sooner than expected.
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