Everton have received backing from Liverpool City Council to act as its guarantors for the costs of their proposed new stadium at Bramley Moore dock. The Everton hierarchy recently agreed a Head of Terms deal to buy land on the dock from Peel Holdings and will now work closely with the council in order to try and secure the financing that will allow them to leave Goodison Park for pastures new.
Everton revealed in a statement on their website that the council will not help finance the new stadium, which will cost in 'excess' of £300m (€348m). Majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri has been the driving force behind a potential stadium move but The Guardian claims he will not be providing any funds from his own pocket. The club will instead try to raise the money from commercial lenders.
The council will now finalise the terms of the agreement between Everton and Peel over the next three months, which will presumably be used by the council and club to create a Special Purpose Vehicle company in order to secure funds for the new stadium. After that time, Everton will be able to prepare a planning application and push on with their attempts to secure funding.
Everton chief executive Robert Elstone is delighted that the Blues have managed to reach this stage of the stadium process and thanked Mayor Joe Anderson for his help in the negotiations with Peel, who will receive a fee in the region of £25m.
"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," Elstone said. "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. 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. And to do that, we need to talk to fans, partners and all stakeholders in the project. We're committing to that consultation. We're also committed to keep fans fully informed as the project develops and as other milestones are reached.
The deal is highly beneficial to both Liverpool City Council and Everton. The council has a higher credit rating than that of a private company due to the assets it possesses, and that will help the Toffees secure loans with lower interest rates.
The council will also receive an annual fixed security fee from Everton for being their guarantors while the Blues will also pay into a security package, which would help the local authority pay off the loans should they not be able to do so. Everton's proposed move to Bramley Moore dock will also regenerate a part of the city that has been in dire need of development for some time.
Liverpool Mayor Anderson knows that the agreement with Everton is just the start of a long and arduous process but has hailed the progress as a "special moment" for both the city and the Blues and believes the proposed stadium is a "powerful statement of intent" from the blue half of Merseyside.
"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," Anderson said.
"I understand that creating this financial arrangement is a small step in a long journey for the club, but it is the first step and for that reason it is a special moment in the city's – and Everton's – long illustrious history. If things progress as we all hope, it marks the beginnings of a new and exciting chapter.
"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.
"From the city's perspective, the stadium would complement and accelerate the regeneration plans already in place for north Liverpool, much like the way our partnership with Liverpool FC in the Anfield Project did for their stadium expansion which has benefitted the wider Anfield community."