Everton to build new Academy arena

, 17 March, 42comments  |  Jump to most recent
The club will proceed with a plan to build a mini-stadium at Finch Farm where the club's development teams can play their home matches.

The Liverpool Echo report that the new small-sided arena is part of the plans to expand Everton's training complex at Halewood which also include an accommodation block for the players.

The Blues Under-18s currently play their home games at Finch Farm but this new purpose-built arena would also allow the Under-21s to bring their home fixtures from Southport's Merseyrail Community Stadium where they currently play.  

Reader Comments (42)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 17/03/2016 at 20:44:46
Another development. Sounds good. Financing?
Paul Hewitt
2 Posted 17/03/2016 at 20:54:07
We need to buy Finch Farm back before we spend anymore money on it.
Darryl Ritchie
3 Posted 17/03/2016 at 20:55:04
Now if only we owned Finch Farm...
James Morgan
5 Posted 17/03/2016 at 22:32:09
Sounds like Mr Moshiri is dipping his hand in his pocket already. Let's hope he can make our academy the next La Masia!
Tony Abrahams
6 Posted 17/03/2016 at 22:49:49
Think this is a really great move, with all the plans the club have for Finch Farm.

James, we would be very lucky to become the next La Masia, but all these plans show how professional our club is set to become once again.

Next will be built a small school, and then these kids will be totally immersed, in both football and education. It will give us an even better chance of getting the best kids, with a promise to parents, that their children will also be educated to the highest standard possible.

The first team will always be the most important part of a football club, but the foundations below are equally important, and it’s great to see that this is the road on which Everton look to be taking.

I think the plans for Finch Farm, are fantastic.

Dennis Ng
7 Posted 17/03/2016 at 23:04:20
Do we own Finch Farm? I was under the impression we don’t; wouldn’t it be better that we own the land as well and not just the facilities?
Peter Gorman
8 Posted 17/03/2016 at 23:52:24
Tony, is a small school the best we can do? Surely to ensure we have the best talent at the earliest opportunity we should build a maternity ward.
Dennis Ng
9 Posted 17/03/2016 at 23:56:36
I believe Ajax offers their kids a good education as well as a solid footballing foundation. Surely we can make that happen, can't we?
Ciaran Duff
10 Posted 18/03/2016 at 07:23:28
How about an IVF clinic with donations from Rom, Barkley, Stones – oops I think I have drifted off into some dystopian Brave New World.

Seriously though, I often wonder about the education of our (and other) academy recruits. As we know, 90-95% will never make, so a decent education is something that should be provided to all kids. Certainly would be a serious consideration for me if I was a parent.

Steve Jones
11 Posted 18/03/2016 at 07:58:51
Good plans for Finch Farm. Hopefully the next news is we have bought it back.

Car parking needs expanding as well, far too many cars blocking Finch Lane when it’s full.

Tony Abrahams
12 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:42:05
Hilarious Peter, but how can you tell, before a child is born? You was chosen, but your shite, it's just not good enough!
Darren Bailey
13 Posted 18/03/2016 at 08:52:26
Really happy with this. When the news broke a couple of weeks ago about the accommodation and medical facilities being built, I mentioned that I would love to see a mini stadium and facilities to match Man City’s training complex and here we go.

I don’t think it will be as big a complex or stadium as Man City’s but all these developments and improvements will benefit the club as a whole massively. Don’t be surprised to see us purchase Finch Farm back in the near future, that has to be part of the long game. Excited to see what’s next on the agenda.

Tony Draper
14 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:08:12
Sounds exactly the kind of thing that needs to be happening.

What encourages me is that where this is a very definite improvement, I'm certain that other less "sexy" improvements will be implemented throughout our entire operations. Good.

Dave Abrahams
15 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:32:26
I agree with Darren (#13) that Finch Farm will be bought back sooner rather later and will be a great asset to improve the performance of young lads coming through.

The biggest boost, hopefully, will be the reorganisation of the U21 league which is now under consideration and due to be implemented in the next couple of years. This and the plan to stop players being bought and put out on loan will also help the future of young lads and also help the game of football.

Thomas Lennon
16 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:40:44
They are expanding across the road– mostly empty fields surround this area so an excellent base to build on. And yes more car parking. Ah! to be back living in Halewood again...


Graham Mockford
17 Posted 18/03/2016 at 09:45:08
Dave (#15),

I don’t really understand the big thing about us owning it or leasing it from a footballing perspective. The facility will be the same regardless of whose name is on the deeds.

It just a financial decision. Do you want the cash available to spend on other things or do you want the money tied up and lower your operating costs?

It may well be a smart thing to do if there is extra capital available, but I’d certainly prefer money to be spent on players (and playing facilities) rather than bricks and mortar if it comes to a choice.

John Raftery
18 Posted 18/03/2016 at 11:07:17
Graham (#17), You are right. I would prefer to see money spent improving facilities than purchasing land, bricks and mortar in Halewood.
Tony I'Anson
19 Posted 18/03/2016 at 11:46:41
Can only assume the Finch Farm buy-back option is still in place and new club ownership will exercise this option in due course.
Thomas Lennon
20 Posted 18/03/2016 at 11:57:28
Of course Liverpool CC owning a profitable piece of Knowsley might come in handy (politically) too at some future time – at the very least, in effect, Everton have not ’left’ Liverpool City area?
Erik Dols
21 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:23:46
Tony Draper (#14), exactly my thoughts. How often do you see "investors" only investing in players and perhaps a stadium, but not in the less visible infrastructure of the club? If this is an example of what the Moshiri-way is, I am content.
Dave Abrahams
22 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:24:44
Graham (#17), yes I prefer the club to buy players, but by buying the training ground now, I think it will save money in the long term. If the new facilities at Finch Farm increases the benefit of us getting our own players in this way, then that also will save money on future transfers.

We all love the interest a good new signing creates and I’m all for that, but if we produce a few good players through a flourishing youth programme that is all the better – although I do recognise that there is no guarantee either way.

Graham Mockford
23 Posted 18/03/2016 at 12:43:02

I completely agree, investing in playing facilities as announced is a sensible way of building for success, so I applaud the latest announcement. We can do this without owning Finch Farm, however.

The lease gives us an option every five years which I believe comes up again next year. If we pay the same as LCC paid, that will cost us £13m but save us £1m or so a year in rent.

The question the Board will ask themselves: Is this the best use of cash compared to other options? The fact we can now probably consider such a decision would point to an improved financial position.

Kevin Tully
24 Posted 18/03/2016 at 13:05:01
I doubt very much if the purchase of Finch Farm will require £15-16m cash. Even billionaires borrow money, albeit at attractive rates. It also certainly isn’t a straight choice between transfer funds or assets, we’ve had zero investment for the whole of Bill’s tenure, but things have thankfully changed.

Secondly, these people are here to add value to their original investment, so I would be amazed if Finch Farm isn’t brought back on to the club’s books as an asset, especially as they are going to improve the facility.

It’s been said Kenwright & Woods have walked away with around £40m between them, they have no excuse not to invest some money back into the club on a pro rata basis, seeing as they sold Bellefield, an asset owned by the club, so they didn’t have to invest any of their own cash.

Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 18/03/2016 at 13:14:42
Kevin (#24) they also sold Finch Farm to begin with... how much rent have Everton paid leasing the training ground since? More than double what they sold it for? It doesn’t look like it was very good business, any way you look at it.
Graham Mockford
26 Posted 18/03/2016 at 13:29:43

Buying the freehold of the land and facilities might add value either through the value of the asset appreciating or through reduced operating costs. It just depends how appealing that business case is.

However there are many other ways of adding value that will be competing for the same investment. I suspect we have not suddenly found ourselves in a position of having unlimited funds so it inevitably comes down to choices.

I know for many it seems an anathema not to own your own training ground and is seen as a piece of mismanagement by Kenwright and Co. In reality it was just a way of recycling assets to fund other priorities. A reflection of our financial condition at the time.

As I say it may make a lot of financial sense to exercise our option but if it doesn’t I wouldn’t lose much sleep.

Dave Abrahams
27 Posted 18/03/2016 at 13:58:44
Graham (#26)... or maybe Jon Woods or one of the other members of the board could have given Everton an interest-free loan or a loan with low interest to tide them over, instead of going further into debt.

They remained true to form and preferred not to invest another penny into the club, they are reaping the benefit now.

Maybe they will invest in the club now? No, I don’t think so either.

Kevin Tully
28 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:05:13
Graham, you dress it up whatever way you wish; assets were sold to keep the club afloat. Now the directors have profited through cashing in their shares, without any investment beyond their initial share purchase. (Which may have even been funded by a third party.)

Nothing wrong with that at all. My point is, if it was my legacy, I would certainly be returning some of the profit back into the club, if I had sold off the family silver in the first instance.

Graham Mockford
29 Posted 18/03/2016 at 14:40:21

As Dave said, I wouldn't be banking on it.

They paid a price for the club then sold some of it on at a higher price. That's what investors tend to do.

Assets were indeed sold . You make it sound like they sold something that didn't belong to them, that they had inherited (family silver). No they sold something they had paid for and therefore owned.

It could be argued that their legacy is a squad worth in excess of £200m including three of the most sought after young players in Europe.

Kevin Tully
30 Posted 18/03/2016 at 15:02:46
Graham, I really hope BK, Earl & Woods enjoy their windfall, they clearly made an astute investment. BK, out of all of them deserves it more than the other two, he has put thousands of hours into the club without reward, until now. That’s the business case, no argument from me. The two remaining Directors may well surprise us all, and invest a large chunk back into a new stadium development, who knows?

I hope they follow the lead set by the Crystal Palace owners, who diluted their shareholding with all the profit going back into the club to redevelop Selhurst Park. Now if they did that for the new Goodison, that would make them real Evertonians who would leave a tangible legacy in my eyes.

Dave Abrahams
31 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:10:57
Kevin (#30),

I wouldn’t be as kind to Kenwright as you appear to be; isn’t he the world's best Evertonian and he bleeds blue blood, don’t you know. Well, like Graham says, he is an investor so is entitled to do what he wants with what I would call his 'winnings'.

But, for such a massive Evertonian, it looks Billy Boy is keeping his hands firmly in his pockets. Which he is entitled to do, of course.

Best Evertonian? – my arse. <:P>[Couldn’t resist that one.]

Darren Bailey
32 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:28:40
If it is to be £13m that’s the cost of buying back Finch Farm (Graham, #23) I’m pleased to say that that’s a drop in the ocean for our new majority shareholder. Now I never thought I’d say that!

Seriously, though, that is the sort of money we would most definitely not have been willing to part with in the past but I can see it happening now.

I understand what you mean about investing in players instead of bricks and mortar and I can’t say either way is the right way but what I can say is that the club is going in the right direction under this new leadership and I for one am happy with the early signs.

As you say, whether we own Finch Farm or lease it, the facilities will still be built and the development opportunities will still be there. I’d say it’s more about adding value to the business if we were to purchase it. More assets, like the stadium once built. It’s a good thing and I’m pretty sure it’s down to Moshiri as the others are pretty useless.

I do thank Bill for keeping the club afloat and for what he’s done over the years but he’s not going to be investing any of that hard earned profit back in to the club – that’s for sure.

Charlie Gibson
33 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:45:34
Not read all the comments, but lots of people asking about buying back Finch Farm.

The pdf at this link is pretty enlightening - its the DTZ sale particulars that Trust Everton got hold of:


Of particular relevance:

"The tenant [Everton] has an option to purchase the freehold reversion at every fifth anniversary of the term in not less than 6 months notice in writing by the tenant to the landlord. The tenant can exercise this option at a price reflecting open market value with the benefit of the residue of the existing lease at the relevant date. The amount paid by the tenant must not be less than £13,869,244 plus an additional amount of £2,239,883. The additional amount is subject to being increased by RPI for the period from the start date of the lease to the date 20 working days prior to the date of completion of the transfer of the reversion.

The tenant’s next option to purchase occurs on the fifth anniversary of the term in July 2012. [So the next one will be July 2017] Based upon historic RPI figures between July 2007 and May 2011 (an average of 3.12% per annum for the first four years) and projected RPI figures for 2011 and 2012 which stand at an average of 4.32%, we envisage the additional amount to be £2,642,594. When added to the base amount, the total equates to £16,511,838."

So it would have cost the club £16.5m to buy FF back in 2012. With inflation, that'll be over £17m by July 2017.

There's also an overage provision which is relevant - if Everton gets planning permission to improve the site (for example by building stands for a couple of thousand spectators), the landlord gets 50% of any uplift value.

Also worth noting that rent is pretty high and will be over £1.4m per annum by now, according to the below methodology:

"The property is let to Everton Football Club Company Ltd for a period of 50 years commencing from 26 July 2007. The initial rent is £1,112,907.48 per annum and is subject to 5 yearly upward-only rent reviews on the basis of 2.5% per annum compounded. There is a tenant-only break option after 35 years, dated July 2042, subject to 12 months’ written notice and payment of rent up to the termination date. The Vendor proposes to top up the rent to the level of the 26 July 2012 uplift which is £1,259,153."

Phil Walling
34 Posted 18/03/2016 at 16:58:03
These plans were in the pipeline well before Mosheri came on the scene. The only difference is that he'll underwrite the finance required rather than 'somebody' in BVI.
Dave Abrahams
35 Posted 18/03/2016 at 17:24:52
Charlie (33) as a matter of interest have you any idea how much we sold Finch Farm for?

Somebody made a killing on the buying and selling of the place, there were rumours that Alex Ferguson had shares in the company that bought Finch Farm off Everton.

Graham Mockford
36 Posted 18/03/2016 at 17:43:33

We sold the land for £2m and had Finch Farm developed for us, about £9m worth of work.

It was then sold on to LCC for £12.9m

We also took the proceeds from developing Bellefield, about £8m I think was reported.

Dave Abrahams
37 Posted 18/03/2016 at 20:43:17
Graham (#36) thanks for that, sounds like we were really desperate for cash at that time. £2M, makes me wonder even more why no-one at Everton could not lend the club that amount to tide them over... Nobody seems to really love the club that much, do they?
Will Jones
38 Posted 18/03/2016 at 21:45:16
When you are a kid it is all about the wow factor!!! Whatever money we spend on this I am sure we will get it back tenfold later, so go for it. The time to be an old miser is when you are...
Peter Gorman
39 Posted 19/03/2016 at 00:14:45
No guys, this academy development counts as little more than Everton in the community work.

We already have a decent youth system turning out players with potential. Most never make it due to their own hormones leading them astray, bad luck with injuries or, most often, lack of opportunities to develop.

Building a mini-stadium is just nice, saves the kids having to travel away to Southport or wherever. It isn't going to turn Finch Farm suddenly into the English La Masia.

Until young kids get the opportunity to cut their teeth at a competitive level on a regular basis we won't see a conveyor belt of talent. The reason it doesn't happen that way is the risk involved in playing them (at any top level club) and the fact that there are no B teams playing in the football pyramid so any loan out is on a wing and a prayer when it comes to continuity of development. That isn't changing any time soon so let's not imagine these marginal gains will add up to anything significant.

Tony Abrahams
40 Posted 19/03/2016 at 09:45:12
I preferred your last comment than your attempt at humour, Peter, and you might well be right, except for the Everton, in the community bit of course.

I disagree with you about the conveyor belt of talent though, because I believe the more time these kids spend on site, the better they will become. Man Utd done the treble with half a team from the academy, and then stopped bringing kids through.

There is a lot of talent out there and Everton, have got a very good reputation already for bringing kids through. Rooney, Jeffers, Ball and Rodwell, put over £55 Million, into Everton, possibly even saving us from administration, who knows?

It’s definitely possible though, United’s history tell us this. Go back further to Glasgow Celtic, winning the European Cup, with all the team being born within a 30/50 mile radius. it’s possible to do, and it also makes perfect sense, when you consider the ridiculous price you can now get, or even have to pay, just for an average footballer.

Dave Abrahams
41 Posted 19/03/2016 at 10:08:26
Lot of sense in what you say, Peter (#39). The way the U21 system is set up, there will be little improvement there, so I’m hoping when it is reorganised (it’s in the pipeline) things will get better.

As it is, the young lads will, or should improve, by going on loan. If the shake-up means going back to the old Central League, then that will be a better environment for the young lads playing with a good mixture of senior pros and their own age group.

I doubt it will go back to the way entirely, to the way the Central League operated. There were some brilliant and no-nonsense matches in those days, but it can only be an improvement on the mostly boring games in the U21 league.

Peter Gorman
42 Posted 19/03/2016 at 13:53:39
Tony, I would be amazed if those historical examples you cite could be replicated in this day and age.

The most recent example I can think of is Middlesborough who brought through Downing, Johnson, Cattermole etc. at the same time and that was born out of financial necessity and didn't end at all well.

No top flight club can tolerate the risk of bringing youth through en masse and sadly that is required for their development. Galloway learnt more in a few months for us than he would a whole season on loan and several years in the reserves.

Looking at international youth level, England achieves a great deal (Ledson and Kenny starring against the Dutch at the Euros). Trouble is, the talent stagnates from 18 to 21 because of the set up in this country. Loans might work but will Yeovil, scrapping for its survival, teach a young player the virtue of possession that Roberto loves so well?

Sadly most potential will not be realised and that is due to our FA and historical set up as opposed to lack of talent or facilities.

Tony Abrahams
43 Posted 19/03/2016 at 19:58:25
Peter, it might not be possible, to bring players through, all at once, but it really doesn’t have to be done that way.

The most recent case being Boro? What did they win? I thought it was Man Utd, even if it was a one-off. It was still done in the age of The Premier League, though.

So just because you can’t do it en masse (why is that what’s required anyway?) you don’t believe it’s a good thing?

I have given examples of what our academy has done for Everton, and you’re quite right, we already have a decent system. But why not try and take it to the next level?

I do agree with you about the 18-21 group though, but also think it’s got something to do with The English culture as well. That’s another reason I think the plans for the academy are the way forward.

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