Evertonians waiting for concrete news on a new stadium at the club’s AGM had their hopes dashed by Robert Elstone - though there were still plenty of reasons to be optimistic.
Supporters eagerly followed events at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall hoping to hear confirmation that the club had purchased land at Bramley Moore Dock for the new Everton stadium.
Sadly that news never arrived, though chief executive Elstone said the club were “optimistic” and were working closely with Liverpool City Council.
Elstone said design work, viability studies and a long-term business plan are in place for a new ground but also revealed “alternatives” were ready to be discussed if required.
That alternative is likely to be Stonebridge Cross, a site ready and available for development but a distant second choice in the mind of Evertonians.
Speaking about the stadium move, Elstone said:
“We are optimistic about the new stadium prospects. It’s an optimism tempered by some significant remaining issues that need to be resolved before we can move forward.
“But it’s an optimism founded on solid progress on many fronts, most encouragingly, progress in our partnership with the City Council and its willingness to explore options to support our efforts to find the money to make the stadium viable, the biggest challenge we’ve always faced.
“Right now, that’s where almost all our efforts are directed, along with the time and resource being invested in design options, testing viability from commercial, planning and transport perspectives and considering different sites.
“But before we can move forward, we need to find the answers to the uncertainties, work through the unknowns and, ultimately, present the answers that will allow the Board to make the right decisions for the club.
“The next few months will be critical, mostly in respect of our partnership with the City Council but we are optimistic and I would like to thank the Mayor for his support and the support of his team over the past 12 months. It’s an exciting project that could cement the Club’s future and make a significant contribution to the City.”
Despite the lack of any concrete news Elstone, Farhad Moshiri, Bill Kenwright and Mayor Joe Anderson said they were aware of Evertonians’ desire to move to the docks.
Elstone admitted “lessons had been learned” following the divisive Kirkby move in 2007.
During a Q&A session Anderson revealed £20m has already been allocated for a road directly into the Bramley Moore Dock site and a railway station is already being built there.
It seems Everton’s riverside dream is now a question of when and not if. All we can do now is wait....