Everton face 'enormous challenge' of making new stadium plan financially viable

25/08/2015  15 Comments  [Jump to last]
In one of two articles taking a deeper look at the situation at Everton, Paul Joyce suggests that with redeveloping Goodison Park off the table, a solution to the club's stadium issue remains a long way off.

» Read the full article at Daily Express

Reader Comments (15)

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Tom Hughes
1 Posted 25/08/2015 at 09:46:40
The elephant in the room is the question of why is: "the redevelopment of Goodison off the table"...? Why has it continued to be dismissed out of hand every time the stadium question is raised? You could be forgiven for thinking that there was something dark and sinister wandering the depths of one of Goodison's old stands, terrifying the staff, such has been the aversion to this option over the years.

When asked at a recent Shareholder's Association quarterly meeting about the whole stadium question, and specifically the redevelopment option, Robert Elstone was only too quick to trot out the old Wyness party line that the club experts fabricated in response to KEIOC's campaign at the time of the Kirkby poll... ie that redevelopment was simply not viable, and would achieve only 35k capacity... All of which had been disproven, even long before Destination Kirkby had raised its ugly head.

Unfortunately he has inherited a mindset that has been allowed to pervade all aspects of this issue since before the Kings Dock. It has never really been questioned, and a proper and exhaustive exploration of the complete range of redevelopment options at GP is required before we can ever make a meaningful judgement and comparison with ANY relocation proposal. It has become abundantly clear that this has never really happened to date, and this should always have been the starting point in the whole stadium question.

Unfortunately, the third party force behind destination Kirkby dictated that this was never going to be considered, or allowed. Now, the rather flimsy over-reliance on naming rights for Walton Hall Park, with little by way of enabling incentives to add to the project funds, has left that option faltering too, and may well demand the sale of valuable playing assets for it to ever be realised. Even then, it may then also be of dubious quality in order to limit the cost and long-term debt incurred..... is that, and any other unknowns or imponderables, all really worth it then?

Without a doubt, Goodison Park is increasingly tired and lacking in several aspects of its offer: limited capacity; limited corporate/hospitality; far too many obstructed views etc. However, it is not (and it has never been) the lost cause that it's continued disregard implies.

Without fear of contradiction, the place comfortably oozes more character and history than most of the rest put together. It is not for nothing that the place has earned the mantel of "Grand Old Lady", and is increasingly revered by various commentators and journalists for its special appeal, intimacy and bear-pit atmosphere when the occasion demands it. These are both literally and metaphorically very solid and real foundations that can be built on, with problems and failings eradicated, and all future requirements met in a greatly enhanced stadium.

Furthermore, much of the existing structures and capacity can be reused and real quality views and facilities added... giving far more high-value elevated seats than will ever be achieved at WHP... and potentially for a significantly lesser outlay over a phased redevelopment. Only at Goodison Park is there the potential to have history, modernity and continuity combined in this way....

Isn't it about time a design competition was commissioned, with an open brief to see ALL the options to continue the evolution of the world's first true purpose built football stadium? What could possibly be more fitting, appropriate, desirable..... or even achievable? The club needs to get this right...

Jay Wood
2 Posted 25/08/2015 at 10:09:00
Hmmm... a couple of bewildering articles by the same jounalist in the Express. The piece on RM facing the sack is as irrational a piece as you are likely to read, which is an achievement in itself.

What interests me more across the 2 articles is, other than quoting RM's comments from pre or after match interviews open to all the media, they don't directly quote an Everton source. They do, however, directly quote the Palace chairman Steve Parish, talking about Everton.

On the one hand Parish considers whilst Everton have the history, they no longer have the riches to be considered in the same bracket as Manure, the 'poo or Chelski. Rather, Parish considers:

"Everton are an absolute aim for where we want to be. Right now it will take five years to get where they are. I heard an Everton fan say,"we have got the worst stadium in the Premier League". Well he can't go to many away grounds.

"For me our ground is not acceptable and we are going to work hard on that. Personally, I"m not sure on the new ground model is the way forward. I think Liverpool are doing the right thing redeveloping."

So this is how Everton is considered by an ambitious chairman and competitor. No longer on equal terms with the elite clubs with whom we shared parity at the launch of the PL, but a role model for lesser and more middling clubs.

Similarly, he acknowledges Palace's ground like GP is not fit for purpose and intends to redevelop it rather than re-locate.

Parish also notes that the new TV deal has considerably closed the gap between the paupers and the 'lower elte' such as Everton, Villa and Newcastle. Ultimately, that means there will be ever increasing pressure from below on Everton to merely hold the position they now do.

Interestingly, the articles also alludes to how Everton has undertaken a review of their commercial opportunities in the past 12 months and intend to appoint senior staff to help grow revenues.

For me, this echoes the concerns of many on TW on the performance of the board in the PL era, namely:

* we allowed the truly big clubs to get a jump on us and with each passing year whilst not addressing key issues, that gap continues to widen

* we have badly underperformed in improving multiple income streams, other than receiving monies from Tv and player sales

* we have been negligent in not addressing the stadium issue

Everton essentially follows a survival, rather than a growth model. That is the road to stagnation and, ultimately, extinction as we are overtaken and consumed by more ambitious clubs.

Tom Hughes
4 Posted 25/08/2015 at 10:30:14
I think you're right Jay..... The supposed second tier elite have already enhanced their stadia and are enjoying their best average attendances in generations.... and some of the lower clubs are now embarking on expansion plans of their own, and will soon match us for capacity too.

We simply can't continue to do nothing.

Ciaran Duff
5 Posted 25/08/2015 at 10:53:54
I'm not sure if it is by chance or not but since the recent protests, there have been a lot of articles published about Everton's current status and issues. I'm not a big fan of the protests as such but it is good that these issues are at least being openly discussed in the press.

For me, the biggest issue is the stadium. As the article says, it is not an easy fix and IMHO there is no point in going back over what could have been etc. We need to work from where we are now.

The club needs to seriously look at ALL options for redeveloping or building a new stadium and they need to include the fan base. If we cannot fund a new stadium in a new location (ie if this WHP plan does not have legs) then the only option left has to be gradual redevelopment.

Why not have an OPEN competition for companies or groups to propose ideas and plans? Then let the club and fans decide on the best option and work out how best to implement and finance it. Even if redevelopment was going to take a long time, I reckon fans would accept that IF they can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Kevin Tully
6 Posted 25/08/2015 at 10:58:24
Articles such as this are spoon-fed to friendly journalists, because the club haven't got the balls to come out and admit to an ever frustrated fanbase they have no deliverable strategy regarding the stadium issue. How stupid do they think we all are?

This comment really made me laugh ; "Everton CEO Robert Elstone was not willing to comment on the matters, but the club faces an enormous challenge to make the Walton Hall Park scheme financially viable."

The comments above are directly out of Elstone's mouth, but they lit the WHP fire in stating; "By late summer, early autumn 2015, we expect to make a planning application for the whole site."

Now instead of coming out and being honest with the fans, they try this tired old smoke and mirrors routine of softening up gullible Blues with these ridiculous articles.

I'm sick of being constantly lied to and the constant drip of fallacious articles by a compliant media both locally and nationally should set off alarm bells for everyone concerned with this club's future.

In the past two weeks alone we have had to read at least a dozen articles why Bill Kenwright is the best man to lead EFC, all put out there by our PR department. That's some going for a man who said he wants out at the earliest opportunity.

Mike Allison
7 Posted 25/08/2015 at 11:17:30
The redevelopment of Goodison Park seems to be the only option, rather than 'off the table'.

The whole area is shocking and surrounded by derelict buildings. Even ten or fifteen years too late, we should be buying these up and making the expansion easier. It wouldn't even take much. The Park End goes to two tiers and the Bullens Road gets completely rebuilt with all the right facilities.

Harold Matthews
8 Posted 25/08/2015 at 11:26:00
"This is Anfield" site.

"Liverpool 'acted decisively' with Robert Firmino deal says Red journalist."

"Paul Joyce was discussing all things Liverpool on the Anfield podcast HQ on Wednesday evening and spoke of the refreshing way in which the Reds got the deal done. etc etc."

Tracking the journo led me to this site. Normally I wouldn't touch it with a long bargepole.

Brin Williams
9 Posted 25/08/2015 at 11:32:35
Tom, I've read articles and yet more articles on this subject many by yourself.

You have been closely involved as I understand and feel there is only one option here – redevelop. I am of the same opinion as GP is too good to leave.

In today's economic environment – give we had the cash ready to splash out – what is the top estimate for a first class refurbishment of the 'Old Lady' and given that it would be a piecemeal exercise what sort of period do you think it would take to complete?

Finally, what do you think it will take to get the message over to the BoD and fans to get behind such a venture – starting at the end of this Season?

Jay Wood
10 Posted 25/08/2015 at 11:46:44
Agreed Tom.

Doing nothing is no longer an option. And hasn't been for more than a decade now.

Shaun Murphy
11 Posted 25/08/2015 at 14:10:46
Mike @ 7, I agree mate but that 2nd rate Park End stand can't be extended as they never put foundations in to expand. I might be wrong but somebody on TW mentioned it few weeks ago.

Also, BKs only worth 㿙M; in today's game, he's basically holding us back by not upgrading like what Mike suggests. New Park End and new Bullens Road Stand, even new seats in the Main Stand, if we're lucky. You never know.... some tycoon might fall for it.

Paul Kelly
12 Posted 25/08/2015 at 15:56:43
The Goodison PR machine is certainly in overdrive.

"they need to trust the chairman to look after it."

Really, trust our chairman. Enough said.

Tom Hughes
14 Posted 25/08/2015 at 16:30:24
Paul.... there is nothing stopping extending the park end. Even if the foundations of the existing stand are too small (which I doubt in anycase) the new structure can be stand alone.... or existing foundations can be expanded.
Danny Broderick
16 Posted 25/08/2015 at 21:21:51
Goodison for ever. There is no other option, unless we get a billionaire sheikh with a few hundred million to spend.

We could probably re-develop Goodison completely for comfortably under £100 million, and it could be done gradually. A new stadium might be £250 million, we would never be able to even come up with half of that money, as things stand.

I would like to move to a 4-bedroom detached house. Until I win the lottery, I'll do the best I can with my 3-bed terrace. The same applies to our stadium.

Shaun Murphy
18 Posted 25/08/2015 at 22:22:35
I agree Dan, were selling players anyway. Arsenal did that and built a state-of-the-art ground, we just want ours improving.
Tom Hughes
19 Posted 27/08/2015 at 08:31:25
Apologies. .... I thought I'd replied to you but it appears to have gone missing.

There are a whole range of potential solutions at Goodison. .... and consequently a range of costs too.

The cost very much depends on the scope of redevelopment adopted, depth of construction, ultimate capacity, the format/structural-complexity.... and how much of the existing stadium is kept and how much the footprint is expanded.

There is also scope for an enabling development built into the stadium on both the Park end and Bullens sides. That could help fund these expansions. They could be commercial and community/regeneration-led.

One end of the spectrum could for instance be the preservation of the existing stands.... and building a wrap around tier above and behind the Park end and Bullens to bring the capacity up to 50k+.... This could be achieved for approx £22-35m. New roofs for St End and Mainstand would remove all obstructions in their upper tiers and could cost less than £10m. Exec boxes could be added on these sides too if required..... This would probably represent the minimum outlay to achieve the 50k capacity.

Another option might be to replace the whole upper Bullens with a new larger upper tier.... thus removing all obstructed views on this side.... and possibly allowing for a slight expansion of the lower tier too. This could have the added bonus of being able to house the full away section on the lower tier. This would cost approx £25-40m on its own.... but would be transformational on this side... and would bring the capacity upto 45-46k..... and can be achieved with no loss of capacity in two phases.

The Park end can literally be as big as any end stand in the country.... it can have an upper tier added sandwiching a row of boxes. Or simply expanded in a single tier to be bigger than Dortmund South tribune..... or expanded around the corner to meet the new upper Bullens. A simple single tier expansion of say 6-7k new seats would only cost £15-18m.... but again the effect would be quite dramatic and would greatly enhance the atmosphere. A two tiered arrangement with boxes would be marginally more expensive..... but the boxes could be convertible to hotel rooms and a new hotel added at this end with conference/exhibition facilities to help fund it.

This need not be piecemeal nor low quality. In fact, because we would essentially only be adding 10-15,000 new seats we can afford for them ALL to be high-quality and high-value.... and the result would be a transformed stadium with far more elevated views than promised at WHP. A natural evolution of Toffeeopolis. ..

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