Willie Kirk has revealed why significant future development plans at Walton Hall Park will help drive Everton forward, as the Club celebrates the one-year anniversary of moving into their purpose-built new stadium.
The Club is committed to making several key improvements at the site over the next five years, encompassing enhanced facilities for supporters, staff and players.
Upon completion, the stadium will hold 2,200 people. Walton Hall Park currently has one covered seating area on the west side of the pitch – a new covered tiered standing section will be built over the next year on the opposite flank.
The next 12 months will also see improvements made to pitch, floodlights and press facilities. Everton’s longer-term plans include upgrades to player changing and staff facilities, while extensions will be made to the seating areas for supporters.
“The plans are very exciting,” Everton manager Kirk told evertonfc.com.
“The improvements to the stadium and the return of fans – when it is safe to do so – will massively improve the players’ matchday experience and hopefully make it an intimidating place for opposition teams to visit.
“It’s an exciting time and one that the players are extremely looking forward to.
“The stadium and playing surface have to continue to improve as we grow as a team and the women’s game grows as a product.
“If you look at the top four WSL teams, they all have very good grounds and facilities and it is now part and parcel of team’s success.
“Successful teams in the future are not only going to be full of good players, but the infrastructure around them has to be of the very highest level and a major part of that is the home ground.
“In the future, we will certainly be able to tick that box at Walton Hall Park.”
Everton’s Walton Hall Park curtain-raiser against Manchester United on 23 February 2020 was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,500.
On a momentous day in Everton Women’s history, the Blues were edged out 3-2 in a thrilling encounter. Academy graduate and Club captain Dan Turner fittingly scored Everton’s first goal at their new home.
“The move was very significant in terms of our development as a team and Club,” added Kirk.
“We needed to get closer to the city and to Goodison in order to grow our fanbase.
“The move to Walton Hall Park allows us to now grow that fanbase over the next few years.”
Everton attacker Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah has been with the Club for 16 years having joined the Blues’ Academy aged nine.
She explained why Walton Hall Park holds a special place in her heart – and says she is savouring the prospect of performing in front of a vocal and vibrant crowd of Evertonians at the stadium again.
“I used to train at Walton Hall Park as a kid so, for our stadium to be there, it feels like home,” she said.
“It’s where I started my football journey. Looking at the stand and seeing the words, ‘The Home Of Everton Women’, it really is special.
“I’m buzzing about the return of fans to the stadium, just to see their faces again and hear that roar when a goal goes in.
“To hear those Evertonians backing you makes such a difference.
“When it’s safe for them to come back, we can’t wait to put in some performances and show them what they’ve been missing!”