Usmanov investment sets up Everton stadium rights deal

Everton has announced that Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov has agreed to pay £30m (€35.1m/$39m) for an exclusive option on the naming rights to its proposed new stadium, as the English Premier League football club revealed it generated record losses of £111.8m for the financial year to June 2019.

The announcements were made as Everton held its general meeting on Tuesday evening, with the new stadium at the forefront of items on the agenda. The Merseyside club last month revealed the final designs for the 52,000-seat stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock ahead of the submission of a planning application to Liverpool City Council.

Everton has projected that the stadium plans will have a “transformational” impact on North Liverpool, contributing to a £1bn boost to the city region’s economy, creating up to 15,000 jobs and attracting 1.4m visitors to the city each year.

Speaking yesterday, Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale said the club has made “significant progress” with the plans as she detailed the agreement concerning its naming rights. USM Holdings, the holding company for Usmanov’s business interests, has paid £30m up front for the exclusive option on the contract. Barrett-Baxendale said: “It is a significant commitment of interest and demonstrates the commercial impact the new stadium will afford.”

Usmanov hinted earlier this month that his company would be interested in acquiring the naming rights. USM already has naming rights to Everton’s Finch Farm training ground through a five-year deal agreed in January 2017.

Usmanov, a former shareholder in Premier League team Arsenal, is a close friend of Everton’s majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and has been discussing the possibility of investing in the club. Everton’s chief finance and commercial officer, Sasha Ryazantsev, said: “We are delighted to announce the club has entered into a £30m new arrangement with USM, in addition to our existing relationship.

“USM purchased an option that enables them to enter into a naming rights contract for our new stadium in Bramley-Moore Dock at a pre-agreed annual value and term. This innovative deal secures additional commercial revenue for the club and the option premium we are due to receive will be exclusively used as the club’s further contribution to the project’s equity.”

It was revealed yesterday that Moshiri, who has made a major investment in players since taking over the club in February 2016, has seen his shareholder loan rise to £350m. Everton said its net debt reduced by £56.6m to £9.2m in 2018-19 thanks largely to the continued substantial support of Moshiri.

Everton posted its second highest revenues of £188m compared with the record of £189m set the previous year. However, the record loss of £111.8m comes after a loss of £13.1m in the previous year and brings the club close to the Premier League’s watermark concerning profit and sustainability rules. These rules allow for a £105m loss over three years, with Everton’s total loss in the same timeframe standing at £94.3m.

Concerning the stadium, Barrett-Baxendale said the club is “cautiously optimistic” about starting work this year, adding that Everton will be “prepared to move quickly” on a three-year build if approval of the planning application is passed.

She said: “Research has shown the stadium will provide a major £1bn boost to our economy… create 15,000 new jobs and an additional 1.4 million new visitors to the city. In addition, it will act as the northern catalyst to Peel’s £5bn Liverpool Waters development, which would see Liverpool competing with Boston, Toronto and Barcelona in terms of the scale and diversity of its waterfront and associated economy. During the next year… the hard work continues.

“I would like to re-emphasise that although we have made fantastic progress there are still a number of hurdles to overcome. And there are no guarantees when developing a capital project of this scale. However, the board is cautiously optimistic. We have a robust plan, we have the right team in place and we have prepared extensively to mitigate all possible risks, giving us the best possible platform to succeed.”

Image: Everton