Everton agree deal to build new stadium on Bramley Moore Dock site

James Ducker
Everton have been at Goodison Park for the last 125 years - PA

Everton have taken a significant step towards the creation of a new stadium on Liverpool’s waterfront after reaching a deal to acquire land on which to build the proposed £300 million ground.

The Merseyside club have reached an agreement with Peel Holdings to build on the Bramley Moore Dock site, which clears the first hurdle in their efforts to leave Goodison Park, their home for the past 125 years, and relocate to the banks of the Mersey.

Everton have also been given the backing of Liverpool City Council to act as guarantors for the loans required to fund the project, which is expected to cost in excess of £300 million and has won the support of many fans.

After years of aborted attempts to relocate from Goodison after abandoning controversial plans to move to King’s Dock in 2003 and Kirkby in 2009, the club are hopeful that they are finally on to a winner but the process remains fraught with complications. The stadium would form part of Peel’s planned £5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme, which is estimated to create around 5,000 jobs over 10 years.

It is understood Farhad Moshiri, the billionaire Iranian businessman who bought a 49.9 per cent stake in the club in February last year, will not be contributing to the costs of the stadium, despite his belief that Everton have outgrown the existing 39,572 capacity at Goodison.

Everton have cleared first hurdle in their attempts to leave Goodison Park

Everton are expected to raise the capital required from a consortium of commercial lenders, although they are unlikely to be able to secure the necessary finance until late summer. There is hope of submitting a planning application later in the year with some optimism of it being approved in early 2018 but that remains to be seen.

Everton plan to present a report to Liverpool City Council a week today which would involve the club creating a Special Purpose Vehicle company with the local authority which, if approved, would secure the funds for the new stadium. Under the arrangement, the lenders would acquire a 200-year head lease of the land from Peel and lease the stadium to the SPV, which would sublease it to Everton for 40 years.

Everton would foot the debt repayments and interest on the loans and have an option to acquire the head lease for the remaining 160 years from the funder.

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Robert Elstone, the Everton chief executive, said the announcement meant the club could “now move forward into the next phase of work with much greater confidence.”

An initial plan to build a stadium at Walton Hall Park, a short distance from Goodison, was abandoned in May after being strongly opposed by local residents.

“To get that certainty, and ensure the stadium is affordable, we need to confirm stadium design, capacity and configuration,” Elstone said. “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.”

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