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Ambitious Everton plans push Newcastle United even further back

5 years ago

Everton are the latest in a now long line of English clubs that see a desperate need to have a bigger stadium, if they are to be able to compete in the longer-term.

For years Newcastle United had the second biggest Premier League capacity, then Arsenal knocked them down to third with the building of the Emirates.

This has been followed by Manchester City moving and then expanding the Etihad, West Ham moving, Liverpool increasing Anfield’s capacity. all of which has knocked Newcastle down to sixth.

Tottenham are now moving and when their new stadium is ready, that will make St James Park only the seventh highest capacity.

Now Everton have agreed a deal to acquire land where they will build a new £300m stadium, this will be on the Bramley Moore Dock site near the River Mersey.

After a number of false starts over the years, this time it looks as though the new stadium is coming to fruition and would almost certainly relegate St James Park to only eighth largest in English club football.

A number of hurdles are still to be overcome including final planning permission – but with the club working in partnership with the local council on the project, it is set to go ahead, providing all the finances stack up.

Liverpool City Council is to act as a guarantor to help Everton secure funding for the project, with he local authority securitizing any loans taken out by the club.

Liverpool Mayor Anderson:

“We will provide security using our status as an organisation, enabling them to go the market to secure a loan.

“It won’t cost Liverpool City Council taxpayers any funding. Indeed, the reverse is true.

“Out of the deal for that security, Liverpool City Council would receive a substantial amount of money, in excess of £4.4m every year.

“For us it is a great deal, we’re spending no money. It is also a fantastic deal for the city because it helps us revitalise north Liverpool.”

Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri bought a 49.9% stake in Everton in February 2016 and immediately identified the desperate need to set in motion plans for a far larger stadium.

The Merseyside club want to to develop long-term into one which can compete both domestically and in Europe, with greater attendances and profile key to that ambition.

In the meantime, Mike Ashley is pushing ahead with a development to build student accommodation opposite the Gallowgate End, which will effectively end any hopes of Newcastle ever expanding St James Park, even under a new owner.

With no realistic way of increasing the other three sides of the stadium, a study undertaken by the Hall/Shepherd regime showed that the Gallowgate End could be brought up to the level of the Milburn and Leazes, giving NUFC a capacity of around 60,000.

The club had purchased a long lease on the land opposite Gallowgate with the potential of enabling that to happen.

That lease was part of the Newcastle United that Mike Ashley bought but this student accommodation development is purely a personal project for him, with no financial benefit to the football club.

With Newcastle averaging over fifty one thousand in the second tier, if Newcastle United showed ambition on and off the pitch then there is little doubt those extra eight thousand seats could be sold if competing at a decent level in the Premier League.

Despite the ever greater amounts of cash coming in from TV, clearly any ambitious Premier League club sees a bigger capacity as essential to competing at the very top.

A bit like his ridiculous transfer policy/management structure that relegated Newcastle twice in seven years, when he thought he could ‘cheat’ the system.

Does anybody really think that Mike Ashley is right and everybody else is wrong?

That is of course if he has any intention at all of trying to make Newcastle United long-term.


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