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Finance could again scupper Everton's dream of a new stadium

Everton face a battle to raise enough funds to ensure their plans to build a new stadium become a reality.

Alex Livesey

If building a new ground was that easy, Everton would be nicely ensconced on the banks of the Mersey right now.

All they needed to do back in 2003 was find the £35million required to fulfill their side of the bargain and see the Kings Dock stadium constructed. Sadly, despite reports the money was "ringfenced" Everton could not come up with the cash and the dream died.

A few years later Everton told us about 'Destination Kirkby', a "virtually free" stadium built on the outskirts of Liverpool and funded in part by Supermarket giant Tesco.

The "deal of the century" however was not quite as good as they first made out, with any potential move saddling Everton with huge debts. They are perhaps lucky then that the Government threw out the plans in 2009.

Now, five years later, they have come up with a new idea - let the council pay for it.

Chief executive Robert Elstone wants the club to become tenants in any new ground with Liverpool council footing much of the bill as part of a wider ranging regeneration scheme.

He used the Etihad Stadium as an example, with Man City becoming tenants when they moved into the stadium in 2003.

The problem with the City example is that the City of Manchester Stadium was initially built for the Commonwealth Games with a significant amount of public money, more than that will be usually found in a council's normal annual budget.

The council released a statement on Wednesday confirming their desire to work with Everton and help them as much as possible, but warned that they could not pay for it all themselves.

"As with all large-scale regeneration projects with the potential to create jobs and investment in Liverpool, the city council will look at ways it can support the wider regeneration scheme but no firm options have been developed in terms of how or where this will take shape.

"This work is ongoing and we will announce the details of the location and support we will be offering once this has been further developed.

"However, we must stress that the city council is clearly not in a position to fund the costs of a new stadium.

"Any investment the council makes would be in a wider regeneration scheme, subject to a sound financial and economic rationale for doing so."

It is thought the council would fund the redevelopment of infrastructure such as roads and other transport networks around the ground, but the actual stadium will not be paid for.

That leaves Everton in a familiar situation - how can they fund the new build? The Liverpool Echo claims Everton need to raise £30million to pay their share.

Given a stadium would cost in the region of £200million I am guessing that figure is after the usual sources of finance have been deducted - the sale of Goodison and a naming rights deal, as well as a possible link-up with a Supermarket like at Kirkby.

A new share issue would, in theory, be a quick and relatively painless way to raise funds. Though that would of course need approval from the current shareholders who may not want their cut diluted.

The two options the club would be keen to avoid are players sales and excessive borrowing. It is vital any stadium move has minimal impact on the playing side of the club as we don't want the nightmare scenario of having a nice new stadium but be playing in the Championship.

Potentially crippling loans should also be a last resort given years of past borrowing has hampered our progress over the last decade. The huge new TV deal has only just eased the pressure on the club's finances, they don't want to tumble into deep debt again, especially when Elstone admits any new stadium would not necessarily produce enough extra income to afford the repayments.

The silver bullet in this case would be outside investment and this is where "the best salesman there is" Bill Kenwright needs to live up to his promise.

He and the board need to convince an investor to help fund the ground with the promise of future profit - either by another quick sale or from progress on the pitch.

That would also be a leap into the unknown given Kenwright and co. would probably have to relinquish control of the club and trust any new owner has the club's best interests at heart.

Whatever happens it looks like some sort of gamble needs to be taken in order to get the stadium project on the move. It isn't ideal but with our rivals all sitting in new stadiums or it least well down the road to redevelopment, Everton can no longer afford to stand still.