Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Cheek By Jowl: Wealth & Squalor

It's been a while since I last featured Stadler & Waldorf, aka George Gillett & Tom Hicks.
My antipathy to them hasn't lessened one iota. Their recent announcement that work on the new stadium in Stanley Park had been put back by at least a year, due to the credit crunch, didn't surprise me.
The reality, however, is that even owners of a more transparent & purposeful hue would have had to put the Stanley Park development on the shelf because of global factors.
My strong suspicion, unchanged since last Spring, is that both Liverpool & Everton will remain at their respective grounds for the forseeable future. In the longer term both sets of supporters will recognise the unanswerable economic case for a shared stadium.
David Conn examines the state of limbo at Anfield, in today's Guardian, shedding some much needed light on what it means for the wider Anfield area ( ).
Conn's observations merit considerable quotation:
"Yet there is more to Hick's and Gillett's failure to finance the new stadium than the challenge to Liverpool's footballing status. The new stadium on Stanley Park and plans to develop the current Anfield site into a hive of restaurants, shops and offices are central to plans to regenerate the area around the old ground, which, over the years, has declined into near-devastation.
"Anfield could currently lay claim to being the most economically unequal place in Great Britain. Around the Premier League club's famous ground are rows of shattered streets whose houses have stood empty and boarded up for years. Like many areas in formerly industrial towns and cities, particularly in the north-west, old jobs disappeared in the 1980s and people moved away. Houses, if they were occupied at all, were let short term to people who had no stake in the area. The terraced streets of Anfield and neighbouring Breckfield were blighted by crime and many houses were burnt out before being sealed with grimly familiar metal shuttering, a process known locally as being 'tinned up'.
"The area around Venmore Street, opposite the stadium, is, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, the most deprived local authority ward in Britain. Crowds of fans walk past its boarded up terraces on matchdays and it is difficult to imagine that Liverpool's Spanish striker Fernando Torres, the very definition of a European glory boy, can be parading his multi-million pound skills just over the stadium wall."
Anfield, like so many other parts of the city, is likely to remain unchanged, stadium or no stadium.

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