Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has spoken out to defend a decision by the City Council to loan Everton £280m (€316.3m/$377.6m) to help finance the English Premier League football club’s new stadium at Bramley Moore dock.
The loan will run for a period of 25 years and Anderson said that the City could make up to £7m from the agreement with the club, through interest on the loan and additional revenue from business rates and related developments once the stadium opens.
However, various opposition councillors have criticised the move, stating their belief that Everton would be able to raise the funds for the stadium project itself, without the help of the City.
It is widely known that Anderson is an Everton fan and the mayor has previously had to deny claims that he is backing the project due to his personal links with the club. Anderson has now repeated these comments and added that the new stadium will be a boost for the whole city.
“There is no risk to the city or the council from what we are doing,” Anderson told the Liverpool Echo newspaper. “We are trying to bring in more revenue and this should make a profit of nearly £200m over the next 25 years.
“I’m a mayor first and an Everton supporter second. To people who ask why Everton FC should benefit from the city council at a time when Liverpool faces austerity, I would point out we are trying to raise money to protect services.
“The development site we call Liverpool Waters, from the Pier Head to the docks at Seaforth, was planned to take 30 years and a $5bn investment. We think this is a way of accelerating the regeneration of the region, bringing in jobs, investment and new housing. First it will be a deal that benefits Liverpool, and second it will be a deal that benefits Everton FC.”
Anderson’s comments come after Everton chairman Bill Kenwright this week said that the project could cost as much as £500m, despite initial projections of around £300m.
Everton chief executive Robert Elstone last week revealed that the funding target for the stadium had “escalated significantly”, but also praised major shareholder Farhad Moshiri’s investment as crucial in paving the way for the team to push forward with its stadium development plans.