By Alex Miller
at SportAccord, London
7 April 2011
Keith Harris, the chairman of the investment bank Seymour Pierce and the man who brokered billionaire takeovers at Premier League clubs Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester City and elsewhere, has revealed today that he has advised Liverpool and Everton to groundshare.
Harris, speaking at the SportAccord conference in London, says that he believes two top clubs in the Premier League will groundshare ‘at some stage’ and that the development would be a ‘change for good.’ He added: ‘It has worked well in Milan and Munich, so why not, it makes common sense’.
Liverpool’s American owners, the Fenway Sports Group, are assessing whether to redevelop Anfield (which sportingintelligence understands is their preferred option by some distance) or move to a long-mooted new stadium in Stanley Park.
Everton have also investigated leaving Goodison Park over the past few years but made no tangible headway. Harris said he had advised the two Merseyside giants to share, believing it was feasible in part because the fans don’t hate each other as much as other teams involved in same-city rivalries.
Harris also joked that following his advice, he received more death threats from Liverpool and Everton fans than he had from his previous wife – ‘but only just more!’
After a podium session at SportAccord, Harris spoke exclusively to sportingintelligence about other football finance matters, and warned that Uefa’s financial fair play rules will only succeed if all clubs are dealt with in an even-handed fashion.
The fears of Harris echo the sentiments of Liverpool managing director Ian Ayre who last week called for the rules to be strongly enforced to avoid being ‘killed’.
With some big clubs such as Manchester City and Chelsea still apparently some way from complying with the new regulations, concerns remain that the rules won’t be enforced immediately and across the board.
Harris said: ‘The rules will have to be tried and tested and then maybe they will have to be amended.’
Harris also believes the new £195m Football League / Sky Sports three-year TV deal to start in 2012-13 – worth £69m less than the current three-year deal – will accelerate the split between clubs in or around the Premier League and those at the lower levels.
‘This deal will mean a squeeze at the bottom. I can see the teams not competing to reach the Premier League being cut away and becoming feeder clubs or even amateur.’