Everton and Laing O’Rourke have held a ‘topping out’ ceremony at Everton Stadium to mark the completion of the structure, with the two parties maintaining that the project remains on schedule.
Dignitaries from the English Premier League football club and its construction partner jointly celebrated the achievement, 20 months since work began on the semi-derelict site at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Everton officially began work on the new 52,888-capacity venue on July 26, 2021, with an official ground breaking ceremony held on August 10. All four stands have since been erected to full height, with the final sections of steelwork and terracing units being installed on top of the east stand, where the topping out ceremony took place.
Everton’s chief stadium development officer, Colin Chong, said: “The project has had to overcome many hurdles, but what can’t ever be questioned is its importance to the future of Everton Football Club and, more dramatically, its importance to the economy and the people of the Liverpool City Region. That is why we should all take immense pride in ‘topping out’ while the project remains firmly on track.”
Work continues at Everton Stadium to complete the roofing structure on the west and east stands, while the initial fit-out has begun simultaneously on numerous levels of the two main stands. Everton Stadium is due to be completed for the 2024-25 season, but recent reports have questioned whether it remains on track.
At the end of March, The Guardian stated that analysis by stadium construction experts of documents filed by Everton as part of the public planning submissions, plus the club’s latest published drone footage of the construction site, suggested that the project is at least three months late.
Laing O’Rourke project director, Gareth Jacques, said: “With the support of our designers, supply chain partners and office colleagues, what everyone can see today is what has been achieved in 90 weeks. That is phenomenal.
“What we do isn’t easy and we have some of the best people in the industry, and some of the engineering we adopt at Laing O’Rourke is very cutting-edge. What you see is a result of doing some really difficult sub-structure work through the winter months, when there was rain, hail, it was very windy and not pleasant at all.
“To do all that and keep slightly ahead of schedule is impressive and I am incredibly proud of everyone involved. I genuinely believe that what the team are delivering is going to be a fantastic stadium, which the fans will love.”
Everton Stadium was this month included among the 10 venues proposed in the UK and Ireland’s final bid to host UEFA Euro 2028. This came after Everton posted a loss of £44.7m (€50.6m/$55.5m) for the 2021-22 season despite generating a turnover of £181m, with work on its new stadium a major contributing factor.
The loss represented a significant reduction on the £120.9m loss posted in 2020-21, but means that Everton has now posted combined losses of more than £300m over the past three years. Indeed, Everton was last month referred to an independent commission by the Premier League for an alleged breach of its financial fair play rules in relation to its spending last season.
Everton broke ground on its new stadium project at the very start of the 2021-22 accounting period, which the club said led to it incurring significant capital costs of £207m. The costs related to the infilling of Bramley-Moore Dock, enabling works, and above-ground construction commencing on all four sides of the stadium.
Everton confirmed that it is in advanced negotiations to secure the next stage of funding for the stadium development, with heads of terms having been agreed. The funding is expected to be signed off in the next couple of months.
Everton finished 16th in the Premier League last season and is currently 17th with seven matches to play of the 2022-23 campaign. Its accounts have revealed that relegation would have a significant impact on the future of the club.