Everton women’s Walton Hall Park stadium was the scene of a suspected arson attack on Friday evening, with police believing that a fire at the venue in Liverpool was started deliberately.
Everton moved into the stadium in February 2020 after previously playing games in Southport and renovation work planned to increase the capacity to over 2,000.
The Liverpool Echo writes that fire crews were called to the scene at 6.23pm as flames engulfed a stand at Walton Hall Park. The stand, plastic netting and scaffolding was on fire, sending thick black smoke into evening air.
Two fire engines attended the incident and one had fully extinguished the fire in just over half an hour. The full extent of the damage is not yet known, although early investigations into what caused the blaze have shown it was started on purpose.
Despite the fire, it is said that Everton are hopeful their next Women’s Super League home game against champions Chelsea in a few days’ time on Wednesday 17 march will be unaffected.
Sporting venues in England remain closed to the public as part of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown restrictions and as long as the site is safe for players and officials, games should still go ahead.
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The Toffees have enjoyed a strong WSL season so far in 2020/21 and have a solid grip on fifth place behind the big four clubs – Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal. They have a six-point cushion over sixth place Reading and finishing fifth would represent an improvement on last season when they finished sixth, behind the Royals on points per game.
As recently as 2018/19, Everton finished second from bottom in the WSL and were only saved from relegation thanks to a couple of timely wins in the run-in and Yeovil’s financial collapse.