Everton declines combined authority’s £30m loan for new ground
Everton FC has declined a £30m loan from Liverpool City Region Combined Authority towards the construction of its £505m new ground.
The combined authority announced in September 2021 that it had agreed to provide the club with the loan, together with a £15m grant linked to the project at Bramley-Moore Dock on the Liverpool waterfront.
However, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram revealed the club’s decision today (March 7), following continued interest around the development and the club’s finances in the wake of it suspending ties with one of its biggest commercial sponsors due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Uzbek-born Alisher Usmanov, a business partner of Everton owner, British-Iranian Farhad Moshiri, is among a raft of ‘oligarchs’ sanctioned by the European Union, US and UK for their close links with the Russian state and president Vladimir Putin.
Everton is reported to have informed the combined authority that it no longer needed the £30m loan in January this year, after securing alternative financial backing from the private sector.
Mayor Rotheram explained the reason for offering financial backing for the scheme, saying: “As one of the largest construction projects in the North of England, coupled with long term commitments to regenerate the local community, the LCRCA supported the scheme on the basis that it could be the catalyst for the transformational regeneration of communities across North Liverpool and South Sefton.”
However, he added: “Earlier this year, Everton Football Club notified the LCRCA that it had found alternative sources of funding from the private sector and would, therefore, no longer require the £30m loan.
“We are in contact with Everton Football Club about the next steps on the £15m grant, which is intended to preserve the historical assets of the Bramley Dock area, support the wider development of the site, create jobs for local people, and attract visitors to the region.”
Today’s announcement was due to be publicised at the combined authority’s April meeting, but the decision was taken to issue a statement due to the interest surrounding the future of the development over the past few days, following the club’s decision to suspend links with its key sponsor last week.
Mr Moshiri has so far bankrolled funding, believed to be £100m, to prepare the former dock for construction work to begin, with a target date of 2024 for the team to begin playing at the 52,888-seat ground.
But there are now questions about how Everton will fund the overall development cost given the shock to the global financial system caused by the war, and the suspension of ties with USM.
USM had sponsored the club’s Finch Farm training ground, believed to be worth £6m a year, and in 2020 Mr Usmanov paid Everton £30m for first option on the naming rights of the new ground.
The names of Mr Usmanov’s telecom companies, Megafon and Yota, were also on the club’s women’s team kit following a sponsorship deal in 2020 said to be the biggest in their history, but these have now been removed, as has signage around Everton’s Goodison Park stadium.
Last week Everton revealed it had suspended ties with Mr Usmanov and his business interests, saying: “Everyone at Everton remains shocked and saddened by the appalling events unfolding in Ukraine.
“This tragic situation must end as soon as possible, and any further loss of life must be avoided.
“The club can confirm that it has suspended with immediate effect all commercial sponsorship arrangements with the Russian companies USM, Megafon and Yota.”
Everton declined to comment today.