Robert Elstone, the chief executive of English Premier League football club Everton, has hailed major shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s investment as crucial in paving the way for the team to push forward with its stadium development plans.
Everton is planning on building a new stadium on the Bramley Moore Dock site in Liverpool, and Elstone has said that funds have been committed to the land, initial designs and planning preparations for the project.
Elstone last week revealed that the funding target for the stadium had “escalated significantly”. Initial projections had suggested that the stadium would cost in excess of £300m (€339m/$406m) but the ground is now expected to much more.
Speaking yesterday (Tuesday) at Everton’s general meeting, Elstone stressed that work is still needed before the stadium plans bear fruit.
“Much work, time and resource has gone into advancing the stadium project over the past 12 months but there is much still to do,” he said. “And if there is one enduring message to take away from tonight, it is that while we are fully committed, and optimistic, there are still hurdles for us to overcome, not least securing all the money needed for what will be a huge financial commitment with very long-term consequences.”
Elstone added: “The site commands a sizeable cost premium – not just the cost of the land but the cost of preparing the site to build a stadium on. But it’s a site that comes with some fantastic commercial upsides, opportunities our business plan continues to explore.
“We are confident that around two-thirds of what we need will be supported by Liverpool City Council in an arrangement that generates not only a very healthy financial return for the council but, most importantly, kick-starts a scheme that will provide significant numbers of new jobs, houses and new business.
“It is important that we thank the Mayor and his colleagues for their commitment to the project over the past 12 months.”
Elstone said that Everton would work with the council to develop a financing model for the project before gathering fans’ thoughts on what should be included at the stadium. Elstone said that Everton would be playing in the new ground by August 2022 “if all goes to plan”.
On Moshiri’s investment in the club, Elstone added: “Mr Moshiri’s initial investment of £105m, bolstered with a further £45m since the year-end, has allowed us to repay the Prudential loan that sat on our balance sheet since 2003, saving us around £3m every season.
“Mr Moshiri’s investment with no fixed repayment date and no contractual commitment to repay, is reported in shareholder funds, not in ‘liabilities’. And at the year-end, the club is reporting net assets of over £90m.
“The conclusion from all of that, and the overview of the accounts more generally, is the club’s underlying financial position is healthy.”
Image: Ben Sutherland