Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Everton Football Club Deputy Chief Executive, has declared a commitment to leave a lasting community legacy on the site of Goodison Park once the Club relocates to the proposed new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock.
Barrett-Baxendale was speaking at the Club’s General Meeting on Tuesday evening, which was attended by fellow members of the Board including Chairman Bill Kenwright, Major Shareholder Farhad Moshiri, Chief Executive Robert Elstone, Manager Sam Allardyce and Director of Football Steve Walsh.
At the meeting, held at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Elstone delivered a wide-ranging speech in which he revealed the Club are planning and working towards a schedule that will see the Blues kick-off at Bramley-Moore Dock in August 2022.
Barrett-Baxendale, during her address to the audience, later spoke passionately about how the Club will “never leave” Goodison Park - even when they are playing first-team football matches at a brand-new state-of-the-art stadium.
“I’ve lost many hours of sleep thinking about leaving Goodison and what that means,” she explained. “How does a proper People’s Club exit its community after 125 years? Then I realised that the answer is very simple: we don’t. We don’t leave our community - we will never abandon our spiritual home.
“A couple of months ago, the Board agreed to register Goodison Park as a community asset. So that site, the Grand Old Lady, will be used for community benefit.
“I am working with a number of colleagues from Liverpool Hope University to ensure that we develop a Trust Board that will look after that site for generations to come. Everton Football Club will never leave Goodison Park.
“I’ve also been working with colleagues at Liverpool Hope University as part of a research project at the moment to see how we build a happy, vibrant, prosperous community that will thrive in the Liverpool 4 area when we relocate to Bramley-Moore Dock.
“We are looking at how when we have relocated, fans can still return to [the site of] Goodison Park and how we can build a community that will be successful.
“Some very early ideas we have at the moment are about health, education, commercial and retail units, housing and leisure facilities. It’s still very much a research project but we want to make sure we define our site and we remember who we are at Everton.”
Barrett-Baxendale, who also holds the position as Chief Executive for Everton in the Community, highlighted a number of significant off-the-field contributions at the Club over the past year, including the continued regeneration work taking place in the areas of close proximity to Goodison Park.
Everton Free School and the Community Hub, which sit side-by-side only a stone’s throw from the stadium, were built as part of a £6million investment.
Everton Free School offers 120 young people an alternative education, while the Community Hub - officially opened last year by the Earl of Wessex - is the new home of Everton in the Community which delivers 40 award-winning social programmes throughout Merseyside.
The latest phase of the regeneration project includes building the ‘Blue Base’, a facility due for completion later this year. This centre will be used for members of society who are aged over 75 and suffer from loneliness, and fans with disabilities.
As part of her speech, Barrett-Baxendale also heaped praise of Everton Under-23s' title-winning squad which raised over £250,000 for their ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ scheme that provides and supports young people on the brink of homelessness across the city of Liverpool.
Everton in the Community has won 71 community awards since 2012 and delivers programmes from 167 centres across the Merseyside region. Click here
to find out more about the Club’s official charity.