Bill Kenwright has vowed to consider the protests against Everton's possible departure from Liverpool but insists an emotional farewell to Goodison Park is necessary if the club are to ever regain their status among the English elite.
Confirmation of Everton's intention to relocate to a new 50,000-seater stadium in Kirkby prompted a hostile response at the club's 127th AGM on Monday, with chairman Kenwright and the Goodison board accused of handing the keys of the city to rivals Liverpool if they proceed with the proposed link-up with the supermarket giant Tesco and Knowsley Council.
Though sensitive to the concerns which, as a fierce Evertonian himself, Kenwright also shares, the theatre impresario is adamant that the brutal economics of life in the Premiership - the club posted a pre-tax loss of £10.8m in the last financial year - dictate that a 114-year residence in Liverpool 4 should come to an end.
"We've been very mindful of what we heard at the AGM," said Kenwright last night. "But I speak to other chairmen and every stadium move has something similar. Arsenal had the same. So did Sunderland. I have been coming to this ground for more than 50 years. Do I love this ground? Of course I do. Do I feel a responsibility for the grandchildren of Evertonians? Absolutely yes. But do I think that responsibility can be fulfilled here? Absolutely no. That is the bottom line.
"We have got this football club to a £60m turnover. [chief executive] Keith Wyness had a three-year plan and he has got us there very early. But we've now got to get it towards £70m-£80m and we can't do that here. We've run out of options."
Everton have considered redeveloping Goodison and a ground share with Liverpool, only for those options to disappear as a result of cost and their rival's impending takeover by Dubai International Capital respectively. Instead, they have signed an exclusivity deal with Knowsley Council to explore the merits of the Kirkby site at the expense of any other within the city boundaries.
Kenwright added: "You have an emotive question - shall we go to Kirkby? The biggest show of hands was those who kept their hands down. They just don't know."Reuse content