Joe Anderson told LBN there was a possible scenario where the city could build and own the stadium, planned for Bramley Moore Dock on the waterfront, and lease it back to the club. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool City Council could entirely fund Everton FC’s £500m new stadium if the club were unable to raise their share of the cost via private investment.
City Mayor Joe Anderson told LBN there was a possible scenario where the city could build and own the stadium, planned for Bramley Moore Dock on the waterfront, and lease it back to the club.
The current arrangement will see the council borrow £280m at ultra-low interest rates and then pass that loan on to the club at a profit to the city of around £7m a year over 25 years.
That still leaves around £220m for Everton to find and last month the club’s chief executive Robert Elstone admitted raising the balance would “not be easy”.
So while both the Mayor and the club are still confident Everton can raise its share of the funding and go ahead with the current model, the idea of the city funding the whole project is an option on the table.
The downside of that from Everton’s point of view would be they would not be the owners of their own stadium and would possibly have less control over the final design and specification. The club has set an ambitious timetable for delivery with work starting in summer 2019 and the stadium ready for the kick-off of the 2022/23 season.
“There is an open door to the possibility – it is not ruled out,” Mayor Anderson told LBN.
“Everton want to own their own stadium and they are still confident they can raise the money that would allow them to do that.”
He added that if such a ‘plan b’ were to be implemented it would significantly change the terms of the whole deal. He explained: “There would have to be a completely different securitisation package to go along with that.”
Both the Mayor and Everton see the successful delivery of the stadium as essential for their own separate reasons.
It is estimated the club’s current home, Goodison Park, will no longer be fit for purpose in less than a decade and Mr Elstone says the new stadium is essential to “future-proof” the club. One way or another, Everton will have to find a new home.
Mayor Anderson sees the stadium as the anchor development for the wider regeneration of Liverpool’s Northern Docklands. He sees it as a catalyst for both the Ten Streets scheme and the £5bn Liverpool Waters Project, incorporating the new cruise liner terminal.
The original plan, unveiled a year ago, would have seen Everton raising all of the funding itself with the council acting as guarantor on the loan. That changed, Mayor Anderson said, when he realised the city could benefit financially by becoming a direct funder via the loan arrangement.
Critics of the project, such as opposition Lib Dems on the council as well as a significant number of Liverpool residents, say the investment could be too risky. The Mayor has pledged there will be full transparency and a vote of the full council before any agreement is signed.