| The arrangement to acquire land from Peel Holdings clears the first hurdle in Everton’s efforts to relocate to the banks of the Mersey. However, that is only the first step in a complex process that will involve Liverpool council helping the Premier League club secure the financial package to move from Goodison Park. |
Everton have a billionaire major shareholder in Farhad Moshiri but it is believed he will not be contributing to the costs of the stadium and that the club intend to raise the capital from a consortium of commercial lenders.
Planning permission would still have to be given for any development.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said the purchase agreement was a “significant step”.
The local authority said it would “securitize” any loans taken out by the club – in other words act as guarantor – as it looks to find funding, expected to be in excess of £300m, for the new stadium.
Mr Anderson said: “We will provide security using our status as an organisation, enabling them to go the market to secure a loan.
“It won’t cost Liverpool City Council taxpayers any funding… Indeed, the reverse is true. Out of the deal for that security [Liverpool City Council] would receive a substantial amount of money, in excess of £4.4m every year.”
No timeframe has been set for building a new stadium.
Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone said: “Clearly, it is vital we have clarity on cost and we have to recognise that the stadium will be significantly more expensive at Bramley Moore Dock.
“To get that certainty, and ensure the stadium is affordable, we need to confirm stadium design, capacity and configuration.”
He said the club was committed to a full consultation process and keeping fans informed.
The current stadium at Goodison Park is one of the oldest in England and the club has been seeking alternatives for a number of years. In 2003 they had to abandon plans to build a new 55,000-capacity stadium at King’s Dock after they could not raise about £30m to fund the £155m project, and a proposed relocation to a new ground in Kirkby failed amid much acrimony from supporters in 2009.
Everton could preserve parts of Goodison for a “vital legacy project”, according to a report for the council’s cabinet. The mayoral recommendation states: “EFC intend to use the stadium move to facilitate a vital legacy project at Goodison Park, delivering health, education, affordable housing and public spaces for the local community which is likely to stimulate further investment in the L4 area and will create social, environmental and economic benefits. Details of this will emerge from EFC in due course.”