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Everton's new stadium plans collapse for a third time

The Toffees are once again on the lookout for a new home...

Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Everton's hopes of building a new stadium on Walton Hall Park have been dashed, with the club and local council confirming they will now be looking for alternative venues.

Everton announced their intention to build a new ground on the park, which is about a mile from Goodison Park, nearly two years ago.

However, progress on the project has been painfully slow while there has also been intense opposition from local community groups who feel the site should remain as a park.

It is an open secret that Everton have struggled to come up with the required funding for the project, which was also to involvedmajor retail investment and new housing.

Last winter Everton CEO Robert Elstone accused the local council of not doing enough to support the club over the project. That drew a stinging response from Liverpool Major Joe Anderson who insisted the authorities were doing all they could to support Everton but would not supply the majority of the cash.

The Liverpool Echo now reports that Everton are considering two more brownfield sites within the city as an alternative, though where those sites are we do not know.

A joint statement from Everton and Liverpool Council said:

"Liverpool City Council and Everton Football Club can confirm they have been working together over recent months to investigate alternative plans for a new stadium for Everton Football Club.

"These new plans no longer focus on Walton Hall Park but on two other potential sites brownfield sites within the city boundary.

"The proposed scheme at Walton Hall Park was always an ambitious one. It was a regeneration scheme that relied heavily on retail investment into the site.

"Most of the current investment into retail is focused on city centres and larger district centres and not on out-of-town developments like this would have been."

Mayor Joe Anderson said:

"Most people will be aware that I did give a commitment to Everton to support a potential scheme at Walton Hall Park with the aim of regenerating the area and creating new jobs.

"However, through the work that the club and the council have done, we have concluded that effectively building a new village in North Liverpool with lots of retail space is a step too far in this current economic climate.

"On the subject of the park itself, I can now say that the park will remain a park and will be designated as such in our Local Plan which will be out for consultation this summer."

Most Evertonians will react to this news with grim resignation. This is now the third new stadium project that has collapsed following Kings Dock in 2003 and Destination Kirkby in 2009.

Millions of pounds have no doubt already been wasted and serious questions have to be asked of the board about how they have approached the club's quest for a new ground.

It has been apparent for some time that Everton simply did not have the funds required to get the project off the ground and they were never going to get that cash off a council already dealing with cuts to its budget by the Government.

The one reason for optimism is that with Farhad Moshiri now in control the next proposed ground move should be a lot more viable. Redevelopment of Goodison Park may also now be an option.

Everton CEO Robert Elstone said:

"Our work with the council, particularly over the last few months, has been positive and progressive and whilst our work evaluating the alternatives is at an early stage, we are hopeful that the new sites provide us with a much more straightforward, deliverable opportunity to build a new stadium."