The Business case for a smaller capacity?

Paul The Esk 20/03/2018  50 Comments  [Jump to last]
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On 16th March, Robert Elstone attended the Downtown in Liverpool business breakfast, “The Everton Stadium and associated regeneration”.

During the course of his comments he discussed the business case for capacity, executive/premium seating and the overall costs of the project.

His view was that the business model was “tight”. The context being how much incremental increase in income would the football club see from moving to Bramley-Moore Dock and what was the optimal point in terms of capacity and therefore income versus the capital costs, and one assumes the interest payments required on the resulting debt.

Paraphrasing, it appears his view is that the business case is supported by a smaller increase in capacity over Goodison Park than perhaps fans might have thought and a smaller number of premium seats than perhaps might be expected.

Now obviously, the club and Robert Elstone have access to much better data than I do. I can only make assumptions based on publicly available data and case histories.

However, try as I might, I can’t make the business case stack up in the manner he describes. I’ll try and explain:

I’ll list the assumptions first and then get into the meat of it:

Option 1Option 2
Capacity60,00052,000
Season tickets42,00035,000
Average revenue per game£20.00£20.00
Executive/premium seats5,6004,000
Average revenue per game£166.66£166.66
Away supporters3,0003,000
Average revenue per game£25.00£25.00
General admission tickets9,40010,000
Average revenue per game£33.33£33.33
Construction cost per seat£6,000£6,000
Overall Cost of stadium£500,000,000£452,000,000
Amount of LCC borrowing£280,000,000£248,000,000
Other financing (assume equity)£220,000,000£204,000,000
Cost of borrowing %5.505.50

Option 1, 60,000 capacity

With a 60,000-seat capacity, of which 5,600 is Executive/premium seating, over a 19-game Premier League season, using the above assumptions matchday ticket receipts would generate £41.07 million per season.

Option 2, 52,000 seat capacity

With a 52,000-seat capacity, of which 4,000 is Executive/premium seating, over a 19-game Premier League season, using the above assumptions matchday ticket receipts would generate £33.7 million per season.

The difference in matchday ticketing income between the two options = £7.37 million per annum

Now let’s look at the cost of building and financing both options. The assumption is a borrowing cost of 5.5% with capital and interest repaid over 25 years (in reality, it does not appear we will have a fixed rate but that’s a topic for another time).

At £6,000 a seat, an 8,000 reduction in capacity reduces the overall build cost by £48 million. I’ve assumed that reduces the LCC funding by 2/3rd of that, £32 million.

Repayment costs for Option 1: £20.63 million per annum

Repayment costs for Option 2: £18.28 million per annum

Net Income

Net Income from matchday ticket sales minus annual repayment costs:

Option 1 = £20.44 million

Option 2 = £15.42 million

Not taking into account food & beverage revenues nor retailing activities around the stadium on matchdays.

Now, as I started the article, the club have real information rather than what is a pretty basic calculation with assumptions, but nevertheless, regardless of the actual numbers the principle remains the same.

From a financial perspective, what is described by the CEO as a “tight” model becomes even “tighter” when a less ambitious template is applied to the Bramley-Moore stadium. For a board renowned for their cautious approach, it seems that what may appear a more achievable option in having a sold out but smaller Bramley-Moore is actually a less beneficial option financially with only marginal gains.

Is there another reason?

Perhaps the real reason is that the board, or the CEO, does not have the confidence to sell out a 60,000-seat stadium with 5,600 Executive/premium seats?

If that is the case, they really must in my opinion, re-examine their assumptions and the methods they intend to apply to attract fans to Bramley-Moore.

I have stated on several occasions we can fill a 60,000-seat stadium by segmenting the marketing approach to different categories of supporter, Executive/premium, season ticket holders, walk-up or non-regular attenders.

Broken down into those categories then we can compare what’s required with what other clubs sell in order to assess how likely filling a 60,000 seat stadium is.

The results (in more detail here) are that we can fill a 60,000 seat stadium by selling 8,000 fewer season tickets than West Ham in 2017-18, sell 3,000 fewer Executive/premium seats than Spurs, and have 8,000 less “walk-up” or non-regular supporters than Liverpool.

We capped season tickets at 33,000 in an antiquated, but much loved Goodison Park; there’s hard evidence from several clubs as to the impact a stadium move has on season ticket sales. We have a waiting list, can we seriously not go from 33,000 to 42,000?

Liverpool sell more than 8,000 executive/premium seats at prices considerably higher than my model suggests. Can we not sell 70% of that figure, in an iconic stadium with state-of-the-art (not necessarily the bloated Spurs version of course), at prices below that of our neighbours?

Before the club marketed season tickets as aggressively as they do now, even at the end of the Moyes era Goodison would attract around 5,000 non-season ticket fans. Most of them had the worst views in the ground. Are we really saying in a brand new stadium with perfect sight lines, and great food & beverage facilities we couldn’t double that number?

If this seems like a rant against the club I love then I apologise, it’s really not meant to be. It’s an expression of confusion regarding either the financial modelling/strategies or the lack of ambition and willingness to have an assertive, aggressive but achievable business plan which if properly executed does two things. It de-risks the project for the financiers, and perhaps more importantly for the fans, provides additional income to as in Robert’s words “invest on the pitch, and to win trophies”.

I’m very happy to have the above challenged.

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Reader Comments (50)

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Don Alexander
1 Posted 20/03/2018 at 20:34:15
Paul, thanks, once again you write a very clear summary in my opinion. I'd like to think the "tight" one would provide you/us with as detailed a response but, as we know, he's from a club culture that treats the fans as irrelevant as often as possible.

Hopefully Mr Moshiri is more enlightened and more willing to take an increased risk in building a larger stadium to generate a better return for himself and the club. After all, when he was at Arsenal he had the courage and accountability to write a very detailed open letter to their fans addressing their woes with Kroenke, didn't he?

Declan Brown
2 Posted 20/03/2018 at 22:18:41
Paul, fantastic piece, I'm a fan of your work to date, keep them coming.

To your point, it would cost an extra £48m (an increase in about 10-11% in total cost), which we would initially finance £16m up front (an increase of about 7.8%) to go from a 52,000 stadium to a 60,000 stadium? On that alone, I say go for 60,000.

As for filling it, decrease the match ticket price by £1 to £5, whatever it takes to provide the supply of fans to fill it regularly.

I understand the fear of can we fill 60,000, but innovation, aspiration and forward thinking can provide a home that 60,000 would want to be at (provided the football is entertaining, but that's the manager's remit). Look at cars and how they've got better over the years, the price goes up and people still buy the new and improved models.

Look at the top grounds in England – Arsenal 60,000 – Chelsea want a new £1bn 60,000 stadium – Man City 55,000 but want to build another tier to go above 60,000 – Man Utd 75,500 and planning to go to 85,000 – Liverpool 54,000 and looking to put a new tier on their Anfield Rd Stand to go above 60,000 – Tottenham going to a new 62,000 stadium – Newcastle regularly filling a 52,000 stadium – West Ham despite their woes regularly above 50,000 in a near 60,000 stadium – Leeds with a near 38,000 capacity – Villa with a 42,500 capacity – Sunderland have a 49,000 capacity stadium.

Half the Championship have stadiums of 30,000+ so we must simply aim for 60,000 and go for it, keep the prices down to fill it regularly and don't let prices scare off the fans from coming.

I think we should go for 60,000 if not as close to it as possible, the two main stands each being a triple-decker like those of Stamford Bridge or Ibrox with all the mod cons behind the seats, all the premium seats and executive stuff in the middle tiers but have the lower tiers basically right on top of the pitch, all tiers being really steep to get as much fans as possible “on top of the pitch”, but the ends behind the goals have to be two goliath sized single tiered stands like those of the Dortmund stadium, two walls of colour and anger that terrify the opposition. Fill in all the 4 corners. All engineered to create as much noise as possible.

From the outside, I want the stadium to cry out “THIS IS EVERTON, THIS IS SPECIAL” as you come into Liverpool or when you pass it, hairs on the back of your neck standing up when you see it. From the inside I want it to be one bad decision from a referee from being an absolute intimidating bear-pit that inspires those who wear the sacred blue shirt.

When Man Utd won their first Premier League trophy with an average of less than 40,000 did they stop and say well we'll fill this every week, now they want 85,000 as their capacity. Think big, act big and believe. Overcome the fear and dare to be bigger and better. In football standing still is now going backwards.

If it's costing £16m up front, which is an increase of 7.8% on our financing (up front cost), then go for it.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something special.

Let's not do this the Kenwright way, let's think more like the late great Sir John Moores. Our record attendance is 78,299 so if we do things right we can easily fill 60,000.

Great article.

Andrew Clare
3 Posted 20/03/2018 at 22:38:26
Football is the most popular sport on the planet. Anything smaller than a 60,000 capacity stadium would be shortsighted.

I know we have been run by a bunch of amateurs with no ambition for the past twenty years but surely they are not going to cock this one up. Are they?

John Pierce
4 Posted 20/03/2018 at 23:06:17
Paul as always a well rounded article, fair yet with a clear view.

You've read my posts several times regarding EBM and it's clear to me the CEO and other board members simply do not have the vision to see through the most massive change in the clubs history.

The model has to be the biggest they dare, and as for ticketing plans they must see other clubs, in other sports, in similar geographical demographics, that can bust the lid off this thing.

Ticketing is linked to transport, the experience and the facilities. Everton must get that right to engage the full range of paying public demand as you hinted at.

I'd accept a lower capacity if the overall experience was of a greater value then it would be possible to get more per seat.

If the board cannot see beyond the current match day experience then we are in trouble already.

I would expect to see flexible ticket plans, which offer choice. Something as simple as a 6-game plan would bring in more revenue per head, put simply less a grind more a proper day out, people spend more.

Economic scarcity is such a simple idea rarely executed well.

Aggressive, outrageous premium seating plans is a must to help offset ticketing structures elsewhere.

As I type, I have no faith whatsoever we will get even close to being this commercially slick.

Great stuff, Paul!

Keith Young
5 Posted 20/03/2018 at 23:12:43
I have had the pleasure and advantage of meeting The Esk just yesterday. Beyond the usual autobiographical comments from the each of us (Rodger Armstrong made the threesome), we touched on this very subject. Wherein Paul mentioned the possibility that the architect might be happier with the lower capacity because he wants to retain the very special “atmosphere” of an Everton home game. So let's also consider how much. the resultant atmosphere means to us too.

In my view (I'm more in line with Andrew Clare's concerns about avoiding being shortsighted) let's consider a block buster. So Paul why not keep expanding your mathematical calculations over and above 80,000 Whilst requiring the Architect to create the Wonder of the North. Thus, the Northern Powerhouse would be in Liverpool not Leeds. More cheaper seats would be available and Mayor would be very proud.

Onwards and upwards as with the architect of Goodison Park!

Derek Thomas
6 Posted 21/03/2018 at 00:19:24
52,000 it is then.
Kevin Tully
7 Posted 20/03/2018 at 00:19:37
It's actually quite disconcerting to sit down and assess how many parties are involved in getting the whole scheme off the ground; Everton, Peel, UNESCO, LCC, Meis, Financial institutions – the list is growing, and you get the feeling this could all collapse at any given moment. What if Joe Anderson leaves his post anytime soon?

Surely the CEO will not be leaving at such an important juncture? If Elstone is going, surely that can only be a sign of unrest at boardroom level? After all, isn't he the man who has been driving the project?

As far as the diggers starting on site next summer, I would say that is completely unrealistic at this point. We also must not lose sight that it now looks like the half a billion mooted cost (which is guaranteed to rise) will be leveraged against all future club income streams and assets, including the playing staff. That is unless Mr Moshiri insists on acting as guarantor, which hasn't been made clear up to now?

I attended the 'business breakfast' last Friday, and as usual, the 'legacy' the club leaves behind at L4 played a major part of any discussions, which I find most bizarre considering there isn't even an agreed capacity / design of any new stadium, never mind finance or planning permission.

Currently, the club seems to be all over the place regarding the whole process. Never mind 'key principles', the club needs to put all it's efforts into achieving critical milestones whilst Mr. Anderson is in position if they are serious about delivering this stadium. Who knows what is around the corner?

I remember when the other two con artists were across the park and they promised 'A spade in the ground within 60 days.' I'll tell you something, If the financial crash hadn't occurred, they would have pulled it off. I can't see how this scheme is much different to be quite honest. They were going to place the debt on the club's books as well, and there would have been plenty of willing banks at the time to lend the finance required for such a scheme.

We mustn't be blinded to the thought of a new stadium at any cost. I firmly believe Mr Moshiri must explain how he will guarantee the future of this club of ours.

Mark Wilson
8 Posted 21/03/2018 at 00:35:42
The Esk will know roughly what I'm about to say almost before he reads on. But Paul your analysis will be as ever I suspect, very close to that upon which the club will make crucial decisions very soon.

It scares me. It really does. Why? Because this arithmetic is just too detached from the realities of the industry. It's a weird, one-off sector of the entertainment business where often finances are the subject of a whimsical toybox approach that bears little resemblance to a business world where logic and reality are actually important.

Everton are in my view a long way from being able to answer the key questions around capacity based on your type of assessment and accepted financial models. They will simply gamble, low or high, I suspect somewhere in the middle and settle on 55,000 – Why?

Because the club is farther away from being able to reasonably guarantee another thirty years in the top flight than it has been for a while. The pathetic mismanagement of transfer policy has left us in a dire situation. OTT? Really? We have lost a decade of progress. The kind of progress that might make your arithmetic a safe bet.

Even in the midst of another attendance boom ish .this club has to know that more of the embarrassing failures we have endured in the last five years will see reduced not higher attendances. The lack of focus on building a successful squad, as evidenced by obvious failures to create a balanced squad over the last two years in particular, merely demonstrate that thoughts of regularly filling a 60,000-seater stadium are just not grounded in reality.

We are miles away from that even in a shiny new stadium because for that to happen in this city we will need to be top four every year and better than the RS. The miracle that needs is not quite of Leicester City standards but thanks to Mr Moshiri's naive approach, mis-judgements on a grand scale, and a lot of failure before the new owner arrived, we really are five plus years away from securing a top class squad, probably at least eight.

We do not have a squad that can come good with a bit of tinkering. Everyone can see that. It's almost close to a total overhaul and even with a really top class manager that will not happen quickly. You cannot undo Martinez and Koeman and Walsh without massive surgery over a lot of years. We can improve and relatively quickly compete for 6th but beyond that is a huge issue.

So my guess is that exactly that a massive hit and hope is what is about to happen with the capacity decision because we have gone so far backwards on the football side of the club that there is no confidence we can fill those extra seats. It's about one thing and one thing only. A successful, quality footballing team.

Annoyingly simplistic? Maybe. But I honestly don't see how any math beats that conclusion. Continue to go backwards like we have and we won't fill 40,000 seats in a world class new stadium, let alone 60,000 so I'm praying that this disaster of a season and two years of Walsh will finally persuade Mr Moshiri to focus on the team, team, and team. Whilst gambling his life away on nothing more than hope in terms of key stadium decisions, because he really has no other basis for decision making right now.

Terry Murphy
9 Posted 21/03/2018 at 02:03:11
If we wanted to be truly innovative we would be investigating this:

The Future of Sports is Fan Controlled

Then we really could claim to be the People's Club – just a thought.

Gary Gibson
10 Posted 21/03/2018 at 05:20:19
It's got to be 60,000. We can't build a new stadium that's smaller than Anfield even before their redevelopment of The Anfield Road Stand.

We would definitely fill 60,000 every week, or at least come close to doing so. A new stadium always dramatically increases the average attendance of a club. When Sunderland played at Roker Park, they used to get crowds of around 18,000. Now they get 30,000 every week... in the Championship. And Man City rarely filled Maine Road (which was smaller than Goodison), yet now they get 55,000 almost every week. People are more likely to pay for an expensive football ticket if the stadium has great facilities and no obstructed views.

I'd rather we had a couple of thousand empty seats than be missing out on income because someone can't get a ticket.

If we went for a capacity of 52,000 and then found that that wasn't enough it would be too expensive to remedy it. The RS have just spent £114million on redeveloping one bloody stand. We'd be stuck with a pig in a poke.

Tom Hughes
11 Posted 21/03/2018 at 06:26:38
I think the analysis may be slightly flawed in that it is assumed that the construction cost per seat remains the same for both capacity scenarios.

Of course that could be the case with a slight difference in structural complexity or repetition or design-quality for both options, but generally cost per seat can increase quite dramatically with capacity as the relationship with increase in volume of construction is not necessarily a linear one, even for just an 8-10k increment.

My feeling at the presentation, (and given the relatively slow progress since this was first announced) was that the body language and wording has changed a lot in recent months. Elstone made no secret that they are struggling to make the business-model work with any real conviction. The two posters above illustrate both ends of the optimism spectrum on this issue, and Elstone's default position is well known, but it is hard to say who is right.

I would like to think that there is a clearcut case for 60k, and the new stadium effect is a well-documented though not universal phenomenon. Sunderland were playing in a 20k stadium that had seen its capacity reduced dramatically, therefore it was a fairly safe bet from the off, and similarly Man City, who were also filling Maine Rd in the 3rd tier were too – not to forget that both they and West Ham got the proverbial "freeby", which brings me to my next point.

Some of the previous driving force and financial justification of Bramley-Moore Dock was the Commonwealth Games bid. Strangely as soon as this was lost, it was announced that costs had dramatically increased by 20%. I'm not sure how that can happen when they haven't even got a finalised design to price, unless of course the Commonwealth Games was going to fund the whole infrastructure costs, plus provide some enabling funding via the surrounding athletes village etc, which would later become residential/hotel developments. Then we got a figure of £500m plucked out of thin air, when Roma's new stadium (also designed by Meis), on an equally sensitive site is still only half that cost for 52k capacity? None of which makes any sense.

As I said on the previous stadium thread, all in all it still very much feels like a moving target, and now it is being shot at by a moving gun and as others have said we haven't been able to tie down some very basic fundamentals. So how can we even contemplate a Goodison legacy, when they haven't even established a clear case for moving in the first place? And I would suggest that at £500k we are stretching that envelope to the extreme. (Or are we already beginning to line up the excuses?)

Alexander Murphy
12 Posted 21/03/2018 at 06:39:07
Very useful article and thought provoking comments so far. Thanks to all.

Several thoughts come to mind.

Two options are offered, yet to My layman's thinking this implies that these are currently seen as the only two options – they are not. Where is the 70,000 option? The 80,000 option? After all this is an exploration of economy of scale is it not? Ambitious and quirky modelling is dramatically less expensive than building it only to discover !

The reason that I suggest 70,000 & 80,000 is not based upon some personal delusion that at that size Bramley-Moore Dock will be rammed from day one. I suggest 70,000 & 80,000 precisely because they seem beyond our likely demand in the near future. However, including such figures will generate an even larger model which hopefully highlights the plus points upon which the final decision is made. Not all graphs are straight lines of constant gradient are they?

There seems an obsession with "Premium Facilities" and the income which they generate. Yet these same patrons in their soundproof bubbles generate zero atmosphere, in fact they have a negative effect. Look at those seats at Wembley right opposite the cameras, the ones that don't fill up until at least ten minutes after kick off and fifteen minutes after half time as these "Premium Patrons" are far too busy getting their "free ale" down their necks. Best seats in the house, empty. Bramley-Moore Dock will (hopefully) be the new home of Everton Football Club and spiritual home to it's faithful. The moneyed minority must be accommodated, but let us not make that at the cost of Bramley-Moore Dock being the most intimidating away venue of any visiting clubs' season.

How the prawn sarnies are served up is a matter of service delivery. Where they are consumed must not be at cost to "That atmosphere unmatched by any other in world football!"

As latecomers to the new ground/redeveloped ground club, we benefit surely from others mistakes? Or if not mistakes, then at least, from over conservative thinking ("be careful" etc). Ambitious thinking is the way of the winner for as the timid are treading gingerly the Champion is making bold strides. Strides which will shape the very landscape if which the timid are so wary.

Being cautious for three decades has reaped it's due rewards, namely, fuck all. Still in business, yes. In the business of bridesmaids, minding the coats.

If we really want to save money, let's just stay where we are shall we? After all, we quite like it here, don't we?

Paul [The Esk]
13 Posted 21/03/2018 at 07:53:26
Some really interesting contributions to the discussion & interesting how many attended on Friday.

There are obviously limitations to the model I produced, but it's a start and I was keen to break the basic premise that Elstone was suggesting of just future proofing rather than growth.

Couple of additional thoughts - the £500m figure is a rounded figure obviously but has three main components – premium paid for lease £25 million; site preparation, infrastructure, professional costs £100 million, 60,000 seats at £6k a seat (£6k seems to be the industry accepted measure) obviously variable depending on quality and style of fit out. That adds up to £485 million.

60,000 is suggested as the upper figure because (i) there's a clear case for attaining that number of paying supporters and (ii) the possible maximum the site can accommodate.

I want us to be ambitious and if that puts everyone in the business under pressure to perform then good, that's how it should be. Demanding targets for the ticket sales teams, and demanding targets for the players, if we played good football, even better start winning trophies and competed for Champions League places then 60k would never be an issue.

Perhaps that's the nub of the issue – 60k will demand a level of performance consistently throughout the business not seen in many a year.

Bob Parrington
14 Posted 21/03/2018 at 09:47:05
Paul, Seating capacity comes even more into perspective if we consider non-football attractions I am sure there are many on Merseyside that would love to attract 60,000 fanatics such as music concerts and the like.

The location at Bramley-Moore, together with the invigoration of the area, would surely be a key factor.

So, IMO, DREAM BIG!

Keith Young
15 Posted 21/03/2018 at 10:24:15
As Paul writes £6k a seat is the accepted measure for establishing the overall cost. Yet it's this averaging across-the-board price means that we average the “atmosphere” too.

Take note of Alexander Murphy's comments above. Now what about the “we want a standing only area” movement who want to try the German solution? £6k for 2 feet? I don't want to exclude the “prawn sandwich” brigade (as especially I've been one of them as a guest at The Emirates and Wembley. Neither do I want to make it unaffordable for the family with 3 kids (cost = 1 prawn in cost of going to a game).

We have a heaven-sent unique opportunity in Liverpool to make a future World Heritage site for our grand children. Let's help Mayor Anderson make a dream worth aiming for.

So, for me, no averaging and make it NSNO all over again. If reality steps on the dream, it might as well be a cheap compromise with a big Kop anywhere.

Tom Hughes
16 Posted 21/03/2018 at 10:34:31
Alexander and Paul,

I doubt if economies of scale are more relevant than than the laws of diminishing returns, and supply/demand when it comes to determining capacity. Otherwise all clubs would've opted for massive stadiums and over-supply.

Yes, after the Taylor report in the 90s, nearly all clubs underestimated projected capacity in the all-seated, Sky-sponsored era, and have had expensive lessons in meeting the boom in demand that followed. On the other hand, the Italians appear to be opting for reduced capacities in the move away from municipal stadiums, to both reduce build cost and inflate prices, thus shortening ROI in the process increasing both intimacy and atmosphere.

LFC are now even tentative about the redevelopment of the Anfield Rd end on the basis that there will be no (or limited) corporate to help fund it and bring that ROI closer. So the bean-counter can justify almost any approach across the full range of proposed capacities of new stadiums by manipulating the figures to suit the owner's remit.

So, a lot will depend on how the owner views us in relation to his investment. That's not to say that there must be a sweetspot where profits are maximised, and we end up with a stadium befitting our fanbase's needs and club's heritage . but if LFC with literally tens of thousands on the waiting list, and a fanbase measured in millions are only gingerly looking to expand, then it might mean that there is more to it in our case than simply aiming high.

My feelings are that you can build in affordable expandability (and even some surplus capacity) at reasonable cost, and thus avoid unnecessary build-costs and embarrassing empty stands, and all the negative effects on atmosphere, ticket-income. So I think we can split the difference between the "Juventus approach" and "build it and they will" and hopefully hit that spot.

Of course, the incremental redevelopment of Goodison allows this to be achieved too... and at a fraction of the initial (and almost certainly the final) cost of Bramley-Moore Dock, testing that capacity as it is added. Which begs the question: at what point does this become the best option and with a fraction of the other imponderables and unknowns that are connected with Bramley-Moore Dock, or any relocation? This is the main reason why most of the bigger clubs have followed that route.

Have we been channelled to the dock option on the promise of extra Commonwealth Games funding and LCC SPV alone? If so, we need to know if that equation still balances, and reading between Elstone's lines, I'm not entirely sure that he thinks it does.

David S Shaw
17 Posted 21/03/2018 at 10:49:49
I'm a supporter, not a shareholder – give us 60,000.
Paul [The Esk]
18 Posted 21/03/2018 at 11:09:50
Might it not be Tom that LFC are losing their relative appeal locally from a match going perspective given the way the club has developed and frankly destroyed much of the genuine match going experience at Anfield replacing it with a Disneyland parody?

I understand the law of diminishing returns, the last seats in are generally the most expensive and yield the least, but I think this has to be looked at in totality, and given the lack of ambition shown for 30 years, a statement made, albeit a statement that can then be followed through financially and of course filled.

If the club was to adopt a more ambitious approach and recruit people with a real drive and passion to compete and succeed in a relatively local market that is (IMO) nowhere near saturation point in terms of match-going Evertonians, then we will fill the stadium, and assuming the pricing points are correct for the different classes of seats and categories of supporters, generate a positive cash return from day one, make the club more attractive to sponsors and commercial partners, and make success on the pitch (our ultimate objective) more likely. Meanwhile also keeping the match going experience for price sensitive supporters within reach of their pockets.

With regards to being able to expand in the future, you will have heard Elstone on Friday talk about the immediate need for a return on investment, something which would be diluted by the additional costs associated with making the stadium fit for a future increase in capacity.

Lawrence Green
19 Posted 21/03/2018 at 11:19:59
Tom #16

I would love Everton FC to be based on the banks of the Royal Blue Mersey, but only if it helps the club move upward and forward on and off the pitch. I can't believe that, after so many years (decades), the club haven't considered all of their options, including redeveloping Goodison. However, their previous failures don't exactly fill us full of confidence that they can see further than their noses.

It does appear that the current financials are forcing the club to lower their ambitions at least in terms of capacity and corporate income, than many may have expected when Moshiri first arrived.

Kevin Tully is perplexed by the focus of the club on what happens to Goodison after or if we ever leave, and I too wonder if the club aren't playing their well worn smoke-and-mirrors routine to confuse us all, as our focus is shifted to something that is important to the area surrounding Goodison, but is less important to many of the fans who are only interested in the team and its results.

Given the rising age of quite a number of our fan-base and the lack of success on the pitch in the last quarter-of-a-century, seeking to increase the capacity to anything above circa 55k could prove to be counter-productive to the club if the costs ultimately prohibit player recruitment and therefore adversely affect the quest for honours or indeed Premier League security.

I'm afraid that Everton's days of leading the world of football have long since disappeared and the best we can hope for is to see a scaled down stadium on the waterfront and not one which has the wow factor we were all hoping to see.

Is there a multi-billionaire out there who wants to purchase an ambitious Premier League club – as the one we have is as poorly equipped as our previous ownership – if you think that's harsh, well everything is relative and, without truckloads of money, our dreams for the club may well never come to fruition.


Brian Harrison
20 Posted 21/03/2018 at 11:20:53
I have to say I am very impressed by the original post and the subsequent posts – all seem very well reasoned arguments. There does seem to be an awful lot of pieces of this jigsaw that have to happen to make this work.

Has the Council voted through the loan? That seems to be the first critical part, then it's finding the rest of the money. I would have thought that the club surely has had discussions with parties willing to invest; otherwise, why commit to buying the land?

My worry as a fan is the cost of my seat in the new stadium, I see despite promises from the board the average season ticket price for Spurs fans in the new stadium is £1000. Similarly Arsenal charge anything up to £1800 for a season ticket.

I well remember Wenger telling the Arsenal fans that when the new stadium is built and the revenue created they would financially be able to compete with anyone. That seems a long way to what is actually happening at the Emirates, much to the disappointment of the fans. In fact the club seems to have gone backwards. Seems new stadiums aren't the panacea they were promised to be.

Let's hope that if and when our stadium is built that fans aren't charge an amount that would stop them attending the new ground. A lot has been spoken about creating a unique atmosphere in the new stadium, I would remind them that its a full house of fans that are right behind the team that creates a unique atmosphere.

Keith Young
21 Posted 21/03/2018 at 11:37:32
Tom points out the need to know now the answer to “Does the equation still balance?” The most likely scenario from Bill Kenwright would have been “a chance to get something for nothing!” and from Mayor Anderson “it might help our Commonwealth Games bid”... but not anymore.

So, unless Mr Moshiri (who is a very successful bean counter) and his Russian connections can be enthused to finance an international icon (nb: the Russians love Icons), then whatever happens will be cheap but not cheerful.

Tom of course can visualise a remodelled Goodison Park as being the icon on our doorstep. So Tom, remind me, is it possible to have a 60k+ icon at a Goodison Park ( with a possible standing only government-approved German style standing section?

Dermot Byrne
22 Posted 21/03/2018 at 11:51:12
Brian (#20), good points. I am always optimistic about games and very pessimistic about the business model of the Premier League.

I have said many times that all I think fans who attend games are seen as are the soundtrack to a media product. Listen to any game and you hear a mix of real fans over amplified to create an atmosphere.

With cameras, they can concentrate on small full sections of a ground too and there you have the visual backdrop. Just look at grounds on TV compared to the reality. They always look huge.

So the future is probably grounds full of a different income stream. Their reserve can be compensated by the creative techniques of TV companies and the few remaining in the Street End can be filmed and projected as football as it was.

Too many eating out of this trough for reversing of this deception – or should I say, too many sharing a sushi?

Sean Patton
23 Posted 21/03/2018 at 13:39:04
Thankfully, when it comes to making the final decision, Elstone will be long gone.
Martin Nicholls
24 Posted 21/03/2018 at 13:57:40
Build it bigger and better than Anfield and we may attract a rich tenant every other week!
Phil Greenough
25 Posted 21/03/2018 at 13:58:09
I can understand the need for caution, but given the amount of money spent in players and wages, is £500M a lot of money to spend on real estate and a prime location?

Basically, that figure equates to £20M annually over the next 25 years. No-one is going to tell me that Everton are not going to squander that amount yearly on one lousy player and his wage.

David McMullen
26 Posted 21/03/2018 at 18:26:08
The only determining factor for me is cost, money, finance. Can we do it? I'm sure we can. I'm sure the cost is negligible between 52,000 and 62,000 for example. The stumbling block, which seems to be the case, is the small-time mentality inference from Elstone.

We very much can achieve 60,000 plus. We are no different to Arsenal or Tottenham or West Ham (!) in that respect. The club simply has to show desired ambition to "catch up" with our peers (the top 6) by building a stadium on a par with them.

Building an even better even bigger stadium say 65,000 now that's called "making a statement" about who we are where we aim to be.

Interesting, I just had an email from the club about the survey results. 99% want 50,000 or more. But there's no breakdown, so no commitment.

They want to make this a state-of-the-art stadium Meis will make it a career defining one. In my opinion, it would be very unconvincing if it wasn't as big as can be.

Lev Vellene
27 Posted 21/03/2018 at 18:42:31
I just got the mail from EFC from participating in the new stadium 'Key principles' survey.

"In terms of capacity, 99% of respondents wanted the new stadium’s capacity to be 50,000 or more." Optimism? Reality?

Brian Wilkinson
28 Posted 21/03/2018 at 20:14:41
Received this email back today, as I am sure many more will have had the same reply from Everton.

You recently completed a survey on our 11 ‘Key Principles’ for a proposed stadium development at Bramley-Moore Dock.

We are delighted to present some of our findings back to you as well as offer you the chance to attend a feedback event with Club architect Dan Meis.

Overall supporters have given the Key Principles their resounding seal of approval. 97% of Evertonians agreed that the Principles presented by the Club represented a ‘clear vision for the new stadium’. The Principles were also given an average satisfaction rating of 8.5/10.

Almost 10,000 fans have now taken part in the first series of surveys related to the stadium project, generating half a million responses. The findings from those surveys will inform an engagement programme planned by the Club over the next six months.

The most recent survey gave supporters the opportunity to rank the Principles and share their preferences on features they would like to retain from Goodison Park - as well as to provide feedback in areas relating to stadium design and capacity.

Fans ranked making the new stadium ‘A Fortress’ – a stadium that maximises atmosphere and creates a home advantage – as the most important of all the 11 Principles.

Including the Dixie Dean statue at the waterfront site was ranked as an important factor by 85% of fans, who stated that by doing this - and introducing a Club museum (86%) - the new stadium would immediately be adopted as the Club’s ‘New Home’ - the Principle which was ranked second by the fans.

Supporters ranked ‘Being Easy to Get To And Get Home From’ as the third most important Principle, with the creation of an ‘Iconic Landmark for Liverpool’ ranked in fourth place.

In terms of stadium design, more than 60% preferred a ‘square shaped’ design compared to a curved or ‘bowl’ design, with more than 80% of fans stating a preference for the corners to be ‘filled in’.

Two-thirds of fans preferred that the away fans be located in a corner of the stadium, and 93% opted for the tunnel to be on the halfway line.

In terms of capacity, 99% of respondents wanted the new stadium’s capacity to be 50,000 or more.

94% of fans said it was important to them that as part of the ‘Goodison Legacy’ there was a permanent reminder of Goodison Park retained in L4.

Brian Wilkinson
29 Posted 21/03/2018 at 20:32:51
It needs to be a minimum 55,000 personally I would say closer to 60,000.

The new stadium will attract more fans, already under our worst few seasons, we have capped season tickets.

What they have to do is not under estimate the huge fan base Everton Football Club have.

A huge one-tier home end similar to Dortmund's is a must for me.

Lev Vellene
30 Posted 21/03/2018 at 20:58:07
We generally don't seem to like the VIP boxes/seatings, mostly just because! But if they can up the normal seating to 55k, then I'd happily enjoy the fleecing for the additional 5k posh seating in whatever form! Even if they remain vacant, for whatever reason, no-one will even notice they are not present with those numbers!
Ian Riley
31 Posted 21/03/2018 at 21:26:24
50, 60, 70,000. The product on the pitch will determine crowd capacity. Have a 50,000-seater stadium with capacity to expand. Prices of tickets will rise considerably the greater the capacity. Everton fans have been fortunate that season tickets have remained affordable for all for many years and please continue. Let's increase the corporate side considerably. That's were the profits lie.

Let's not forget, a bigger stadium could lead to a prawn sandwich atmosphere. Prices rise and so do expectations. Until the first bricks are put down, let's not worry. Haven't we been here before?

Kevin Tully
32 Posted 21/03/2018 at 21:30:59
Lev, knowing Everton, we will get a new stand for 'trans-fans'. This type of supporter is a more recent phenomenon, but they are football fans from the City who 'identify' as neither red, nor blue. Shirley Murphy-Turphy from EitC says this will be a world first. They are sending a survey out as we speak.
David McMullen
33 Posted 21/03/2018 at 21:46:22
Ian, it's your opinion but in my opinion that's not correct.

Success on the pitch determines how many we get in. Not the capacity. Why have a meagre 50,000? It's well below a host of clubs it's untrue. Very unspectacular and sets the bar very low for Everton Football Club.

Re the prawn sandwich atmosphere. What? If you mean corporate seating etc then it's there to be "won" to be obtained. If you mean a bigger stadium will leave to a diluted atmosphere, I don't really see that. Not if it's done right anyway! There will be an element of "tourists" and I think a new stadium and hopefully success will bring in new fans.

Don Alexander
34 Posted 21/03/2018 at 22:07:24
"Trans-fans" used to be more in evidence pre-Heysel. Apart from the truly unattached, it was by no means unusual for Blues to watch the occasional match at Anfield and vice-versa for decades and many members of my family, Blue or Red, did just that whilst all along being die-hard to the club they loved. Heysel and its after-effects spoiled all that though.

The current board don't need to be devoting any time at all to winning customers from unattached fans though. Just get the right people in their chairs in the boardroom, get the right manager with coaches he wants and the improvement into regular top six finishes will ensure that every other problem diminishes quite rapidly. Top four will ensure their demise even quicker.

Great squad = Great stadium, Farhad. Simples!

John Raftery
36 Posted 21/03/2018 at 23:14:36
Back in the sixties, when I started attending matches, Goodison often attracted crowds of 60,000 plus for big matches until the capacity was reduced with the introduction of more seating. Fans, predominantly male, attended those big matches despite the poor facilities, despite the prospect of serious overcrowding, despite sometimes having to stand in a stream of urine and despite being exposed to the elements in large areas of the ground.

Much has changed in the intervening decades including increased attendance by women and children. A new, bigger stadium is an opportunity to expand the match-going fanbase significantly above its current level as West Ham and Spurs have recently demonstrated. Plainly a successful team is important but it will not be the only ingredient in the future. Spectator comfort, decent facilities in and around the stadium, transport provision, pricing and a great atmosphere will also play a part in enabling the club to maximise the potential for expanding attendances.

We were a big city club 50 years ago. We can become one again providing we have the ambition and of course the money. A 60,000 capacity would be a statement of our ambition and confidence in the future.

Derek Thomas
37 Posted 21/03/2018 at 23:41:34
The survey managed the questions to justify the pre-ordained result required.

They will, by selective use of 'some' of the key points be then able to justify 52,000.

You wanted a close to the pitch fortress?

52,000 gives you this.

99% said 'we want over 50,000'...

What's your problem, you got what you asked for... do you know just how much more 60k+ actually costs?.

To do this we would have had to totally decimate the Goodison Legacy you all voted for...so on and so forth in a similar manner.

We're not getting anything that starts with a 6. That's if it doesn't fall over for other reasons... and if Moshiri or somebody else actually spins a white knight story/scenario and puts their own money in, this will mean the finance isn't there and they/he had to – or else it was going tits up.

Cynical? Bitter yep & yep but his is The Ev here.

Nicholas Ryan
38 Posted 22/03/2018 at 01:19:58
Build it, and they will come!!
Geoffery Cadman
39 Posted 22/03/2018 at 02:21:51
What an excellent article, and the feedback also. Like many my biggest concerns are the escalating cost. Hopefully, with the location, a substantial sponsorship deal can help off-set this. Regarding Capacity I went for 60,000 on the recent survey. I am now having doubts. At the moment I feel we could just about fill that for the bigger games. And our present income can cover the costs.

I have been watching Everton since the early 60s and seen big fluctuations in average attendances during that time. Even in the best seasons only half the games pulled in 50,000 or more. Only the 62-63 season averaged just above 50,000. Most games this season, the Upper Bullens has been filled by Evertonians. We can't rely on 3,000 or even 1,500 away fans every week. Every new TV deal has more games available. Two hundred in the next 3-year period. Sky have more games for less money this time and there's two packages still to sell. More live games less paying customers. It's time for the Premier League to start reducing the number of live games, before the bubble bursts.

Back to what Capacity, hopefully Safe standing rail seats will be in common use in the near future. The Ratio at Dortmund is 1.7 standing to 1 rail seat. A lower tier of 30,000 of these seats would give standing room for 50,000. With 5,000 corporate and 20,000 fixed seats, the capacity could be adjusted from 55 to 75,000, in sections to suit the individual demand. See “Safe Standing Roadshow.co.uk. Good articles on Dortmund and Celtics Conversion.

I have had worse experiences in seated areas than I ever had standing on the terraces. 10,000 stand regularly at Goodison every home game now. Often unsafely. The Atlanta game this season a prime example. Let's have the first really safe stadium in the country.

Tom Hughes
40 Posted 22/03/2018 at 09:11:07
Paul (#18),

I would also like to think that LFC have stifled natural growth of their local fanbase and turned them all into tellypudlians forever too. Anfield certainly isn't the place it was say 40 years ago, and is far more a tourist destination but I think if they magically found an 80k stadium in Stanley Park tomorrow, then they would probably easily fill it every week, with locals and out-of-towners leaving their remote controls behind. It's a shame our club has done so little to cash in on their relative underachievement both on and off the pitch but that's where we're at.

I agree that we are probably not at saturation as regards demand (in the current stadium), and "new stadium effect" combined with a bit of "stack 'em high and sell 'em cheap" could definitely add 30, 40 or even 50% in the short or medium term . and longer if success follows. However it is very difficult to speculate on that assumption, as Elstone said, that surplus demand is not as pronounced as it was at say Highbury, and that highly lucrative corporate market is also not there in the same abundance so the ROI is tighter and general business case less robust.

As regards building-in expandability it needn't be expensive in the short term, and possibly not in the longer term either. It depends on the approach adopted in the first place, and if that is properly planned for.

Tom Hughes
41 Posted 22/03/2018 at 10:31:45
Lawrence (#19),

I too would love us to have a truly state-of-the-art stadium at a more central site. Not overly worried about being on the riverfront to be honest but 5-10 mins walk from town and all its amenities and transport hubs would be great, and potentially game-changing.

As regards looking at all the options and redevelopment fully, I don't think the club has ever really done their homework properly. Which is probably why we're currently having a fan engagement process to help define a design brief – several years after the architect was commissioned to start work on the project. It was proven that they hadn't really done a proper assessment of Goodison Park at the time of Destination Kirkby, and there's been little to suggest that the blinkers have been removed ever since.

Similarly, LFC told their fanbase for over a decade that redevelopment was prohibitively expensive and/or not viable... one change-of-management later and guess what: the unviable became the reality. Planned, designed and delivered in less time than it has taken us just to ask the fans what they would want in a new stadium.

It really depends on perspective, who the decision-makers are, and any number of outside influences and other factors that can affect that process. For Destination Kirkby it was supposedly about enabling funding from a retail development, that was trying to sneak under the planning radar by offering a community enhancing (football stadium) development, on a site that couldn't merit such a large out-of-town retail park – all, we are led to believe, on the back of a chance meeting between the then director of Tesco and Bill Kenwright.

Then we had Walton Hall Park, based on a promise of enabling funding from a residential/commercial development on a Park offered by our Evertonian head of LCC. Each time redevelopment was ignored in order to force a third party's round peg into our square hole. (So to speak.)

Now, we appear to have reached a hiatus with yet another site that came with incentives, and a "Royal Blue Mersey" moniker instead of batman lights. Once again, redevelopment is brushed under the carpet? The fact is, redevelopment should always be the starting point in the whole process – especially so, when you're talking about the site of the world's first purpose-built football stadium. Then, when you've commissioned a design competition asking several stadium designers how they could take Goodison Park up to 50-60k, you at least have your benchmark, against which you can measure other options.

In terms of finances, location and transport, Kings Dock was far more of a no-brainer than Bramley-Moore Dock, and got a comparison by way of a ballot including a study carried out several years previously. Many things have changed in terms of stadium design and planning, and football's finances since Goodison For Ever-ton (sponsored by Bill Kenwright) commissioned Ward McHugh Architects to carry out that study. For us to be sure that we are getting the best possible deal for our club, we need to be able to make that comparison, so that we can at least confirm that the benefits exceed those apparently rising costs.

Mike Doyle
42 Posted 22/03/2018 at 11:25:02
I agree with those who say half-empty stadiums look terrible. However, given the scale of this project, it should be quite feasible to develop a stadium design that offers a flexible capacity ranging between say 50,000 and 70,000.

There's little doubt that games against the top 5 – plus the likes of Newcastle – and a few currently in the Championship (all of whom have big travelling support bases) could fill the higher capacity and add to the atmosphere.

Trevor Skempton
43 Posted 22/03/2018 at 15:11:00
It is clear to me that a flexible capacity, as Mike suggests, would be a good idea, but also that we must make allowance for an ultimate 'dream' capacity. I suggest 61,878 now, but incorporating an identifiable scope for increasing future expansion to 75,000. Experience shows that it is possible to create an intimate and intimidating atmosphere at that scale, although I accept that it is difficult.

The best existing example I know, of this size, is the Millennium/Principality Stadium in Cardiff, which has 75,000 seats. It benefits from both the enforced constraints of a very tight site and the proximity to City Centre amenities and transport.

Peter Lee
44 Posted 23/03/2018 at 23:12:43
Have to confess that I don't get this debate in the terms being discussed.

When all is said and done, the stadium exists to generate profits. Whatever the size, if it sells out and there remains pent-up demand then the business response is to increase prices. If it doesn't sell out, then reducing prices might fill it.

Economically not as simple of course but maximising income is not about maximising size.

Sunderland is often talked of in terms of the new stadium effect. The Stadium of Light was built with a partial upper tier. There were times when the ground was more often full. It could easily be expanded but it never has been. In the light of gates when the club was struggling, that was probably sound judgement.

In the end, a successful team will fill a ground and people will pay more to watch them. It can take an extended period of success to achieve that. Man City still struggle after their extension.

As an aside, at the last home game I could see eight empty seats from my seated position. All are held by STHs, all have excellent unobstructed views. A glance across at the Park End showed a fair number of gaps too.

Seat prices are lower at Everton for a reason. Higher prices would lead to lower attendances. Other clubs can charge more and sell out; we can't.

Because of the association with StubHub the club has by now accumulated a lot of data about what can be charged for seats for different games, seat positions, etc. It will also know where the purchasers originate from. Those data will inform future pricing decisions if the club heeds the urgings here to operate as a more savvy commercial operation.

Michael Penley
45 Posted 27/03/2018 at 05:25:33
I can't understand why anyone would not want as big as possible. Real Madrid has 80,000 seats. We need to aim for the best otherwise our club motto means nothing.
Phil Martin
46 Posted 27/03/2018 at 11:50:59
Anything less than 60,000 is (another) display of a lack of ambition.
Geoffrey Williams
47 Posted 30/03/2018 at 11:51:18
Personally, I would opt for a stadium with a capacity of 60,000+ and a retractable roof. It would make the ground a more viable venue for non-football events but the atmosphere would be incredible for football.
Brian Wilkinson
48 Posted 30/03/2018 at 21:19:53
Looks like our neighbours are worried... and they call us bitter:

Rejected petition
Block Everton Football Club From Building A New Ground On Bramley Moore

We call on people of the UK to sign the petition and stop Everton Football Club building a new ground on a heritage site. This is absurd and people of LFC/Residents feel it unjustified. We hope the good people of the UK and the FA see sense and stop this before it happens. #YNWA

More details
As football fans and concerned residents in and around the area of Bramley Moore Docks, mysb building a new ground on a heritage site. This is absurd and people of LFC/Residents feel it unjustified. We hope the good people of the UK and the FA see sense and stop this before it happens. #YNWA

More details
As football fans and concerned residents in and around the area of Bramley Moore Docks, myself and people of the Anfield area have been are very concerned aboelf and people of the Anfield area have been are very concerned about traffic issues if the ground goes ahead on this heritage site. BM is a special place as our kids normally like to play in and around the area, people walking their dogs as well as kite flying lessons. We have sent numerous letters to the FA asking them to support our concerns and hopefully have EFC docked points in the coming seasons.

Simon Smith
50 Posted 01/04/2018 at 00:52:29
Blah, blah, blah... Just give us a 60,000-seat stadium which is world class with more corporate seats to fulfill our needs to generate the cash to help finance the team. Surely not too much to ask?

Oh, and while you are at it, hurry up and give us some artist's impressions to make that lot across the park even more green with envy.

Colin Glassar
51 Posted 02/04/2018 at 18:39:39
Just seen a tweet on NSNO showing an image of the new stadium. Anyone else seen it? And wtf is 1878 style seating? And wtf is a Vomitory? Somewhere t spew up safely?
Colin Glassar
52 Posted 02/04/2018 at 18:46:18
Safe standing in part of the New Gwladys Street. Looks ace tbh.

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