Everton may stay at Goodison Park for a further two seasons after confirming their new dockside arena will not be ready for the start of the 2024-25 campaign.
It was originally anticipated the forthcoming season would be the last full one at their current home, with the £500m Bramley-Moore Dock venue ready in late 2024. However, newly appointed chief executive Colin Chong has disclosed that the current timeframe could be revised because it may be impractical to move mid-season.
In a lengthy statement – his first since replacing Denise Barrett-Baxendale this month – Chong insisted the building work remained on schedule and a decision about when to move is based on the merits of when to relocate.
Because the new facility will be complete midway through the 2024-25 campaign, it guarantees Everton will be starting the next two seasons at Goodison.
“The one question I’m asked more than any other is, ‘When will the stadium be ready and finished’?” wrote Chong, who has overseen the project as the chief stadium development officer.
“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 senior men’s first 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.”
More reassuring is Chong’s assertion that the building work is continuing according to Everton’s schedule, especially given the constant speculation regarding how majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri is funding the project.
Chong said: “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.”