Robert Elstone has revealed his bitter disappointment at Everton not being considered as a venue for World Cup 2018 by the England bid team.
The Blues learned on Wednesday that Liverpool was to be given host city status with the existing Anfield Stadium and the proposed new stadium on Stanley Park given preferred status.
Everton had been instrumental in Liverpool City Council’s attempts to gain host city status, putting forward its ambitious plans for a new FIFA compliant venue in Kirkby, which was rejected for planning by the Government last month.
Despite the rejection from Whitehall, the legacy of the Destination Kirkby project is that subject to funding and planning – as is the case with other cities and stadia – there can be an Everton facility capable of staging World Cup football.
Mr Elstone said: “What is truly disappointing is that we at Everton have been ruled out of contention despite constantly re-iterating our belief that we will have a new stadium built, open and fully-functioning many years before a World Cup in either 2018 or 2022.
“We have fully supported the City of Liverpool's bid for host-city status and, yes, we do feel aggrieved that it was not a case of Anfield, a new Liverpool stadium OR a new Everton stadium.
“If the result of the Public Inquiry into the Destination Kirkby project had not come when it did two weeks ago - had it been delayed until after today's announcement - I don't think there is any doubting that we would have been included.
“We are pleased for the residents of our City. It is right that the City hosts the World Cup.
“However, it is not without irony that the City played a major role in defeating Kirkby. Indeed, in the City's official bid document, the proposed Kirkby stadium was described by the City council leader Warren Bradley as ‘outstanding’.
“But as we take in the announcement made today by the England 2018 bid team we seem to have fallen foul of timing with the decision taken at the very worst time in our long-standing, and ongoing search for a new stadium.”
Frustratingly for Everton and its Chief Executive the protestations on the merits of the plans for a new Everton stadium were not met with the same enthusiasm by the England bid team.
He added: “The search for a new Everton stadium post Kirkby will of course intensify and as I have said previously we remain absolutely confident of delivering that within the timeframe of the World Cup bid for 2018.
“Clearly, the bid team did not feel comfortable with this approach and when we sat down with them, we wholeheartedly disagreed on their point of view.
“Other clubs that will face similar funding and planning challenges just like Everton have been included - so why not Everton?
“A fundamental of any successful stadium funding package is, almost certainly, occupancy by a strong, viable and robust PL club. Such an occupant is also the only way to support a lasting legacy.
“If we do deliver a stadium within the timeframe then we would be delivering a FIFA compliant venue and in our opinion it would be crazy not to play World Cup games at Everton.”