Everton's proposed new stadium could yet stay in Liverpool, according to City Council leader Warren Bradley.
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer
The Goodison Park club has agreed an exclusivity deal with supermarket giant Tesco and Knowsley Council to discuss plans for a new stadium in Kirkby.
But many Everton fans want them to remain within the city of Liverpool.
And Councillor Bradley told BBC Sport: "If Everton's deal with Knowsley falls through, I hope they will be able to discuss possibilities in Liverpool."
What we have got to is do all we can to retain Everton in Liverpool
Liverpool city council leader Warren Bradley
Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy - a lifelong Everton fan - said that "constructive" talks were going on between Everton and Knowsley council that would help finance the new stadium.
Everton are unable to comment on specific details of issues relating to the stadium plans because of the exclusivity deal.
But Councill Bradley, also a Goodison Park season ticket holder, confirmed Everton had been offered alternative sites within the city and the council was also searching for commercial partners.
He insisted he has not given up hope of Everton remaining within Liverpool, saying: "As a City Council leader more than an Evertonian, do we really want to see a commercial business the size of Everton move out of the city? Of course we don't.
"What we have got to is do all we can to retain them in Liverpool. We've done work on finding land and we are doing work at the moment on finding further commercial partners.
"If at some point Everton say their current plans for Kirkby are not financially viable because there is no asset base, or Tesco say this doesn't stack up for us or any of our retail partners, and those involved don't think they can take it any further, then hopefully there will be possibilities in Liverpool."
Councillor Bradley admitted he had been a supporter of a joint stadium for Everton and Liverpool.
He also insisted he had not closed the door on the possibility of re-developing Goodison Park if any way could be found to go ahead with such a project - but this has been virtually dismissed by Everton.
Councillor Bradley said: "I have always been an advocate of the joint stadium with Everton and Liverpool.
"I thought it would half their administrative costs and stadium costsn which had to be a plus and they could put the extra finance on the pitch."
He also fears the disappearance of Everton from Goodison to Kirkby would hit the surrounding businesses and communities hard in the city's Walton area.
"There is a business community there that has been stabilised because Everton have been there," he said.
"It would be a sad day because a lot of the businesses that have survived because of Everton wouldn't continue to have that under-pinning support."
Everton's King's Dock move was abandoned in 2003
Councillor Bradley also rejected suggestions on Merseyside that the council had been more receptive to Liverpool's plans for a new stadium in Stanley Park than Everton's proposals for a new stadium.
Everton abandoned a proposed move to King's Dock in April 2003 because they failed to raise the cash to fund their share of the £155m project - but lines of communication are open with Kenwright.
"The council went to hell and back for Everton on King's Dock, but unfortunately the business plan was never going to allow that to happen," insisted Councillor Bradley.
"Since Christmas Bill Kenwright and I have spoken, not particularly about a new stadium, but about striking up a relationship between the council and the chairman of Everton and I have got to say it has gone from strength to strength.
"If Everton decide the exclusivity deal with Knowsley is no longer, I believe I can sit around a table with Bill Kenwright and the chief executives of the council and Everton and come up with something I believe is acceptable to Everton supporters and also to the city."
And despite Everton's reservations, Councillor Bradley would be willing to explore the possibility of re-developing Goodison.
He added: "It is something we are looking at. There is a school close by and I have got the chief executive of the council working on that.
"The main issue is what commercial partners Everton would get in that area. I know Everton have an opinion on that.
"But what I would say is if Everton feel they can get some commercial support or commercial sponsors in there to do something special, there is no reason why we can't do some land assembly work to ensure that we can extend the footprint of Goodison.
"If Everton do decide for commercial reasons they have to go to Kirkby, that is a decision they will take, but as council leader and a season ticket holder, I would like to see Everton remain in the city and I have definitely not given up on that."