Like every Evertonian, I greeted this week’s news of a potential new stadium on the site of a Dock by the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey positively. What I hear is that what will be built should offer around 1000 seats more than Liverpool’s ground – always better to be bigger than the Reds.
But, is the deal all done and dusted? Far from it. My take on what’s going to happen down the Dock Road is this: we will now have a costed stadium offer on an iconic site which we can take to a major commercial concern and seek co-funding. And we have a City Council which is behind us.
It might sound simple but as ever the devil is in the detail.
To be positive, consider the AT&T stadium in Arlington Texas – home of the Dallas Cowboys. The venue is owned by the city. The name gives it away, the massive telecoms company AT&T lent their
brand to the stadium – and for quite a lot of money. The franchise owners of the Dallas Cowboys, no doubt, were also in the funding mix. But notice that a lot of organisations and a lot of money were needed to create a stadium which is home to the NFL version of Manchester United.
We, the mighty Everton FC, are not Manchester United. We blues know that we are much better than that. But as the world sees it Manchester United, like the Dallas Cowboys, are a brand worth associating with.
Everton is not near that place yet.
So, as representatives of Everton go looking for potential commercial partners they will have significant obstacles to overcome. Firstly if you were say, Subaru or Siemens, would you choose to commit over £100 million for a stadium named after you where Everton play?
Or, for argument sake, would you put your money into the home of the New York Giants ?
That is the sort of equation I believe we are now working with. We have an offer, a superb stadium by a river in an iconic city used by one of the original founders of the professional game of football and in the world’s most popular sports league.
But we also have competition to attract the investment money – which is never easy.
So how many roads must we walk down before weekends at the Docks?
For me, we need a fantastic design which will compliment one of the worlds leading commercial brands, we then need to convince them to give a lot of money in exchange for naming rights and throughout this process we need to convince the city of Liverpool that they can underwrite the right investment or actually invest itself.
Does that sound easy to you? Whilst also being competitive in the League and Cups, holding on to our best players and paying big-money to attract new talent?
No, not to me either. But we are truly on the right path by owning the land – that was never going to be easy and we did it. We certainly seem to have the backing of the city council and, in our new majority shareholder, we have someone linked to mega money.
So Godspeed all those people who will now be involved in making a dream come true and making the River Mersey truly blue on the dock road.
But don’t expect an overnight success story. We are Evertonians after all.