Everton have taken a significant step towards their goal of building a new stadium on the banks of the River Mersey after securing a deal to acquire land at Bramley Moore Dock.
The club have agreed Heads of Terms to acquire the site, two miles from Goodison Park (pictured) on the banks of the River Mersey, from Peel Land and Property subject to planning consent.
There are still a number of hurdles to overcome – funding for the £300million-plus scheme for one – but it is the beginning of the process which will see Everton leave their home of 125 years.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson helped broker the deal and on March 31 the city council is set to agree the principles of an innovative finance model which will take a lease of the stadium from a funder and, in turn, sub-lease it to the club.
The stadium will be fully funded by Everton and no financing will be provided by the council but the authority will benefit from an annual security fee payable by the club in return for the council’s participation.
“Over the past year, the club has worked with the support of the council and we are grateful for the ‘can-do’ approach that has got us to this important milestone,” said Everton chief Robert Easton.
“We are particularly grateful for the role the mayor has played to date in our talks with Peel and for his support in this important step in the journey towards reaching a funding solution for the stadium.
“We are delighted that we have been able to agree Heads of Terms with Peel, giving us control of the Bramley Moore Dock site and allowing us the time we need to complete the substantial further work required to be able to confirm the project’s viability.
“We can now move forward into the next phase of work with much greater confidence.”
Bramley Moore Dock was the preferred option of the club, driven by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri, despite it being a more complicated and expensive option than an alternative site in Croxteth.
— Everton (@Everton) March 23, 2017
Everton’s priority now is to secure the necessary funding to ensure the ambitious project does not go the way of three other failed stadium moves this millennium.
The presence of Iranian billionaire Moshiri, crucially not a factor in their previous attempts to find a new home, on the board should considerably help that process.
“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,” added Easton.
“To get that certainty, and ensure the stadium is affordable, we need to confirm stadium design, capacity and configuration and to do that, we need to talk to fans, partners and all stakeholders in the project.
“We’re keen to stress not only the scale of the work ahead but also the remaining risks and uncertainties.
“We’re delighted we’ve secured the site and we’re equally delighted the mayor is continuing to support our financing model, but significant hurdles remain, not least the preparation and submission of a detailed planning application.
“Receipt of a successful planning approval at some point early next year will be the most significant step towards bringing the stadium to life.”
The new stadium will form part of the £5billion Liverpool Waters project, which it is hoped will be a catalyst for economic regeneration and job creation in north Liverpool.
“I’m delighted that we have got to a stage where the city and Everton can publicly share the vision for the club’s potential new home at Bramley Moore Dock,” said Anderson.
“The proposed new stadium will be a landmark for the city’s spectacular north Liverpool waterfront and a powerful statement of intent for the club and the city of Liverpool that will resonate globally.”
Over the last two decades Everton have suffered at least three failed attempts to find a site for a new stadium fit for modern football.
In 2000 they announced plans to move to King’s Dock in the city, only for that to collapse when the necessary investment could not be found, and in 2009 a controversial move out of the city to Kirkby as part of a Tesco superstore redevelopment foundered after a public inquiry ruled against the plans.
Most recently Walton Hall Park, the closest site so far to Goodison Park, was proposed last year as part of a housing, retail and leisure development but questions were raised about funding and viability and that too failed to come to fruition.