Everton’s new £500m stadium project will get a £45m boost under plans put forward by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Liverpool city region’s six local authority leaders. Tony McDonough reports
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is ready to make a contribution worth up to £45m towards the cost of Everton FC’s £500m stadium.
On Thursday evening Mr Rotheram and the leaders of the six city region local authorities – Liverpool, Wirral, Sefton, Knowsley, Halton and St Helens – issued a joint statement saying they were ready to support the docklands stadium project with hard cash.
“This is not an investment in a football club,” said Mr Rotheram. “It’s an investment in the most significant regeneration project the city region has seen in over a decade. It will create thousands of jobs and help breathe new life into long-forgotten parts of our region.”
Everton FC and its main contractor Laing O’Rourke broke ground at Bramley-Moore Dock in Liverpool Waters in August. It is hoped Everton will leave its current home at Goodison Park in Walton and kick off the 2024/25 Premier League season at the 52,888-capacity arena.
The entire build is scheduled to take around 150 weeks in 12 separate phases. The initial enabling works are expected to take 32 weeks and are being funded by majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri.
However, Everton has yet to reveal the details of the main source of funding for the stadium construction. In 2018 the then Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said the city was willing to lend the club half the £500m cost. However, the idea was abandoned with Everton insisting it would meet the whole of the cost.
Next week, Mr Rotheram and the six local leaders, including current Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson, will consider a grant of up to £15m to assist with infrastructure work to public space and heritage sites on the land around Bramley-Moore. This would include preserving historic features, restoring derelict land, and providing public access.
They will also consider a loan of up to £30m towards the overall project to build the club’s arena. The wider stadium project will be a vital catalyst for regeneration of Liverpool’s north docks and the area around Goodison Park.
Everton forecasts the project will offer a boost of more than £1bn to the city region’s economy, attract 1.4m visitors to the region each year and deliver an additional £237m of social value.
The Combined Authority’s funding would come with conditions. They would include Everton committing to targets for employment and training opportunities for local residents and the achievement of social value.
As well as providing jobs and apprenticeships and stimulating the area’s regeneration, the loan would offer a return on investment, plus interest that could be used to fund other projects and services across the city region.
The stadium move will also kickstart the Goodison Legacy Project which will redevelop the club’s existing ground into a mix of housing, retail, office space and facilities for the community. It is estimated this will create more than £58m in social value.
As part of the deal, Everton will lead on campaigns focusing on chronic health issues in north Liverpool. Increased funding for the club’s charity, Everton in the Community, will see an expansion of its work in education, training, employment, youth projects, reducing crime and violence, supporting asylum seekers and veterans and health and wellbeing.
The joint statement said: “The Combined Authority exists to drive economic regeneration, create jobs and opportunities for local people, and breathe new life into an area that has continually been left behind by national governments.
“Devolution is all about local leaders taking control of our own destiny and working with local people to shape the future we want for our region. This project stands as one of the most significant regeneration projects our region has seen in more than a decade and will be a major catalyst for regeneration and revival.
“The financial returns generated from this investment will ensure that we are able to invest in further regeneration projects and services across the city region. Given austerity and the financial constraints that local councils continued to face, this is an innovative way of generating new money and investing to improve our region.”
A report going before the Combined Authority next Friday states: “The project provides the opportunity for transformational regeneration of North Liverpool and South Sefton/Bootle areas.
“The stadium is anticipated to attract further investment in the northern Liverpool docks area in a way no other commercial project is likely to achieve with wider impact spreading into adjacent areas such as south Sefton.”