Exciting news for the Blues: Everton Ladies are aiming to move to a new home stadium at Walton Hall Park sometime around mid-October of 2019! The new stadium is home to Liverpool County FA and is only about ten minutes away from Goodison Park. Hooray!
Everton plans on adding 500 seats to the grounds that will feature VIP and press sections. They are also going to add a TV gantry, upgraded standing areas so that supporters can watch from all sides of the pitch, and new dugouts and turnstiles.
Why are Everton Ladies moving?
Well, their home stadium for their 2018/2019 season was less than ideal, to put it mildly. Merseyrail Community Stadium is in Blowick, which is a 45 minute drive outside of Liverpool. The closest railway station is a little over a mile away and supporters bemoaned the lack of parking and atmosphere. Unfortunately, Everton’s attendance suffered and was the lowest among all WSL teams.
Interestingly, Everton had their eyes on Walton Hall Park back in 2016 when they had plans to relocate there from Goodison Park, but ending up backing out after receiving push back from local residents.
In May 2018, BBC Sport reported that Everton was in talks to use a proposed North West football hub in 2020 that would be near Northwich, about 30 miles and almost an hour’s drive away from the heart of Liverpool. No word on whether or not that is still a possibility.
The new stadium may be small but is definitely much more convenient to get to, so this should help to increase attendance rates.
The FA Director of Women’s Football, Sue Campbell, told The Guardian in May that the FA had recently completed an audit about women’s playing grounds and that there was much to improve upon. She said:
“When you talk to the players they want to play somewhere with atmosphere. If you want to attract people to watch a game you need an attractive place to come to, particularly if you want to bring families in. But over the next year we will try to put some of those things right.”
The new grounds are a step in the right direction. The new atmosphere and 6-8 new signings this summer will make for a better experience for the supporters and players.