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Monday, August 2, 2010

Derwent Instigate Potential Stadium Site Development Plans


On Tuesday 3rd August reclusive Billionaire Albert Gubay's Derwent Holdings will have their plans approved for the first phase of their proposed complete redevelopment of the commercial section of Edge Lane. The outline planning approval for this initial phase concentrates on the eastern boundary of the site, land bounded by Edge Lane, Edge Lane Drive, Mill Lane, Binns Road and Borax Street. Precise details of this initial application can be read here. This phase of the application is essentially a concession attached to the whole development which will see an extension to Mersey Care’s mental health Rathbone Hospital.

Apart from Everton's current home, Edge Lane represents one of only three sites that could meet the future needs of the club and of these is by far the only suitable alternative to the re-development of Goodison. Offering the potential for securing a lucrative stadium naming rights deal and the possibility of selling Goodison to the right developer for £15m [Keith Wyness, 2007] Edge Lane clearly would tick many of the boxes on Everton's shopping list.

KEIOC have long since advocated the concept of securing an appropriate stadium solution in place of simply an affordable solution which, all Evertonians will remember, was the mainstay of the proposed to move to Kirkby. Our position is that the solution must be appropriate in many areas; it must be in an appropriate location, it must be of an appropriate design to cater for the needs of a top premiership club, the cost of such a stadium must be appropriate in terms of its affordability and finally the whole concept must be appropriate in its ability to deliver the funds required by the manager to challenge for honours on the field of play. In an ideal world all these criteria would be met, however, realistically, it is acknowledged that compromise will always form part of any potential solution.

What should be avoided at all costs is the acceptance of complete inappropriateness on the simple basis that the solution is affordable. Despite claims to the contrary, surrounding providing the manager with annual funds of £10m, Deloitte carried out an appraisal of Everton's business plan for Kirkby and determined that with average gates of 47,000 the annual net contribution [profit] to the club would be in the region of £6m. It is a sobering fact that since the formation of the premiership Everton has lost an average of £6m per season and in the seasons when Kirkby was being considered this figure rose to £7m; so whilst Liverpool and Tottenham formulated plans to deliver tens of millions Everton contemplated a move that failed to address present day losses.

The plans for Edge Lane comprise the complete redevelopment of the current offer with 40% additional retail floorspace. The area shown below, on this old map, highlighting the old Edge Lane station on the Canada Dock line, offers exceptional rail access due to its proximity to the current Edge Lane station and that within the Wavertree Technology Park. Road access in and out of the city is provided by one of the city's main gateways, Edge Lane, currently in the process of a significant upgrade, and accessibility to the nearby city centre is an easy proposition.

John Taylor from Derwent Holdings has positively described their redevelopment of Edge Lane, explaining, "Derwent are excited to be progressing this major scheme in what we consider to be the best location in the city." whilst Liverpool Vision has stated, "The Edge Lane corridor is a key priority for Liverpool Vision and we can now move ahead with an exciting and comprehensive vision for the whole area."

Albert Gubay is well known for his philanthropy; as can be seen here his intention is to establish a trust which will generate income for the church.

As an alternative to Goodison the location would appear to be appropriate; the exercise of meeting the rest of the criteria could prove difficult, failing which, for a club with little financial resources, the phased redevelopment of Goodison would appear to be the solution with the highest degree of deliverability attached to it.

Despite over exaggerated land acquisition issues, the phased redevelopment could begin with the construction of a £30m revenue generating complex on the park end, with no loss of income throughout the construction period; this phase would be achieved at no cost to the club by means of a share issue. Later phases would be paid for through additional forms of equity financing and debt finance. Alas it would appear that the owner of Everton won't allow the board to dilute the current shareholdings so relocation would appear to continue to be the desired aim.

In the best interests of the club's future, decisions need to be quickly and professionally taken on, firstly, which of the available sites offers the best solution to Everton's stadium revenue problem and, secondly, what is the potential of its deliverability.

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