Everton outlines financing plans for new stadium

Everton has laid out financing plans for its new stadium, while the English Premier League football club has revealed it intends to implement a groundbreaking legacy scheme for its existing Goodison Park home.

The new stadium was one of the main items on the agenda as the Merseyside club staged its annual general meeting on Tuesday evening. Everton last month announced that it is proposing a capacity of 52,000, expandable to 62,000, for its new stadium at the Bramley-Moore Dock site on the banks of the River Mersey in Liverpool, with the club adding that it will be “futureproofed” for any potential change in regulations concerning safe standing.

Everton intends to submit a planning application with Liverpool City Council in the second half of this year and has laid out a goal of completion in two years following a start date in 2020. The project is expected to cost £500m (€556.9m/$638m) and its ambitious scale, along with how it will be financed, has led to scepticism in some quarters.

It was announced yesterday that Farhad Moshiri, who is said to have invested £250m into the club since securing a majority 49.9% share in February 2016, has pledged to put his own money into the project. Moshiri spelled out the necessity for a new stadium, and the plans for financing it, adding that Everton had “not been given a stadium” like West Ham United or Manchester City.

“There must be an understanding that we don’t have a choice, we don’t have a plan B or a plan C,” he said. “We’ve been given a site but it’s extremely expensive and it will cost £100m for land preparation. However, we’ve evaluated it, it’s a good site and we just have got to get on with it.

Moshiri added: “We will complete this stadium and I will throw as much money at is as needed. The private market will give us £350m, a naming rights partner will give us some more, along with maybe equity capital of £100m.”

While formal design plans for the new stadium have yet to be released, Everton deputy chairman Keith Harris has pledged that the facility will be a state-of-the-art “fortress”, while still respecting the club’s 141-year history.

Addressing shareholders at Tuesday’s meeting, Harris (pictured) said: “I can promise state of the art, tomorrow’s technology, today’s passion and yesterday’s history will be melded into this stadium and it will be a fortress other clubs will shudder to visit. With your support we can deliver that.

“It is a superb site, absolutely outstanding. I have been involved in building and financing a number of stadia and nothing comes close to this site. It will be a stadium which reflects the atmosphere and passion we have (at Goodison Park) but includes the benefit of what we have today. We will build a modern-day experience which is enjoyable for the home fans and formidable for those who are visiting.”

Harris has worked on a number of stadium projects and was responsible for the generation of finance for the redevelopment of London’s Wembley Stadium. He revealed that there remains flexibility over the initial capacity plans announced last month.

He added: “We have a wonderful structure on the site which has to be handled with care. But all the challenges will be met and beaten. The optimism has to be high. (Manager) Marco Silva and (director of football) Marcel Brands are being consulted as we finalise the design.

“We expect the introduction of safe standing during the period the stadium is being built, so original capacity has flexibility to increase by 10,000, depending on government legislation. We will announce another consultation exercise revealing designs in next few months.”

Meanwhile, Everton chairman Bill Kenwright has pledged a “great, great legacy” when the club leaves its current home. Everton is expected to submit an outline planning application for the redevelopment of Goodison Park, its home since 1892, at the same time as the document is entered for the new stadium.

Kenwright praised the vision of chief executive, Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, for the future of the Goodison Park site. Kenwright said: “Goodison Park is important to all of us. One of the first things we decided was, we would not sell Goodison Park to any trader who came along.

“We are going to create something that is lasting and say, ‘Thanks ever so much Liverpool 4′. And it will be, I promise you, a great, great legacy. We are probably the first football club ever to do it (establish a legacy after leaving their home) – and quite right, too.”

Image: Everton