Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Stadium Development Officer, Colin Chong, offers an update on the progress made on Everton Stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock…
Those of you who know me, know how much this club means to me and my family. That is why I was proud to accept the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer of Everton Football Club - and I fully understand the responsibilities that come with this role and everything that is expected of me in the time I am in position.
I have always been pleased to deliver updates on our new stadium and speak to supporters on the progress we continue to make – and that is something I am pleased to continue to do.
There was a time, not long ago, when peering over the boundary wall, or looking through the gates, was necessary to check on the progress of our future home on the banks of the River Mersey.
Now, Everton Stadium towers into the north Liverpool skyline, and we’ve all enjoyed watching this magnificent super-structure emerge from the former dock.
The scale of progress in the past 12 months has been staggering and that is testament to the planning, commitment, professionalism and ingenuity of our trusted construction partners, Laing O’Rourke and their partnership with the hard-working staff here at Everton.
A year ago, the site was receiving the delivery of steel work and we were seeing the skeleton of each of our stands come to life. Since then, we have seen milestones that have included the arrival and departure of tower cranes, terracing lifted into place, brick panels delivered and installed, a complex series of roof truss lifts completed and the ramping up of internal works, which has included making the building watertight and the start of the mechanical, engineering and plumbing fit-out.
Within one year the site is literally unrecognisable.
WATCH THE LATEST EVERTON STADIUM SITE UPDATE BELOW OR HERE.
As the project gathers pace in the coming weeks and months, we’ll see some further visual changes as our barrel roof continues to take shape. However, there will also be more work taking place that won’t be visible from the road or a drone video. Work has been taking place internally in the west and east stands, as rooms, concourses, bars and restaurants start to form.
Myself, and colleagues across the Club, will continue to work in lockstep with Laing O’Rourke to complete what will undoubtedly be one of the best - and the most sustainable - football stadiums in the country.
Supporters have understandably shown a great interest in the project, from concept to consultation, and for that, I warmly thank you.
It’s also fair to say the one question I’m asked more than any other is ‘when will the stadium be ready and finished’?
Contrary to some ill-informed media reports, there is no delay, and the project remains firmly on track and on-schedule.
A precise moving-in date for our new stadium has never been publicly set by the Club. We have repeatedly stated that the schedule of the development will see the keys for our new home handed to us from Laing O’Rourke during the 2024/25 season.
When a new stadium is completed from a build perspective, it must be put through its paces and the building tested. We will be working on the planning for those test events with the aim of them taking place in the final months of 2024. What they will look like and how supporters can take part is yet to be determined. In parallel with the planning for those test events, the question of when our men’s senior team will play their first competitive game at our new ground will be determined.
I can confirm, after overcoming a full winter where we lifted the heaviest materials in the most challenging climate, we are confident the stadium will be completed in the final months of 2024.
This means we won’t be starting the 2024 season at Everton Stadium – but, to reiterate, the Club has never publicly confirmed an intention to begin the 2024/25 season at our new home. If the project remains on schedule, it raises the question as to whether the Club moves in mid-season or alternatively, do we wait and give the Grand Old Lady a fitting send-off before commencing competitive league games for the senior men’s team at the start of the 2025/26 season.
Whatever decision is reached, it won’t be based on sentiment; it will be reached in consultation with fans, while also considering the impacts it will have across our football club in terms of our football operation, our commercial partners and third-party contracts, our staff, seasonal workflows and the impact, of course, on supporters.
Moving mid-season may offer some commercial benefits, but also presents a series of challenges and hurdles that could negatively impact other aspects of the Club – and other commercial considerations.
What I can say categorically is that, today, the project is several weeks ahead of schedule, with another winter to come.
In the coming months we will be consulting supporters further on our digital journey and the migration process as we seek to make a fully informed decision on when the first competitive game for our senior men’s team will be played at Everton Stadium.
This will be our home for generations to come, so our ambition is to ensure we get this right for everyone.
It may have been a difficult and turbulent season on the pitch, but I know that in Everton Stadium we have a glimpse into the future of football for our great club.
The aim has always been to deliver on a promise to build something that all Evertonians can be proud of.
When you finally walk through the entrances in that boundary wall, I’m sure you will agree it will be that and much, much more.