Building Everton’s new stadium later this year will help boost economic confidence and unlock potential in the wake of the inevitable slowdown because of coronavirus, according to Henri Murison, the director of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership. He believes the “mega-project” will be important in boosting the region’s short- and long-term prospects.
Liverpool city council’s public consultation period on the planning permission for the stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock ends on Friday and it is understood Everton do not expect any additional delay caused by coronavirus. Work is expected to start in the final quarter of this year. It is also understood the constructors, Laing O’Rourke, do not foresee any problems in terms of labour from September onwards.
“The confidence point is really important,” Murison said. “Clearly the priority is protecting people’s health but you will have seen what the chancellor said about how we keep the economy going and there are significant projects like the stadium in north Liverpool which will make a big difference to the economy, not just in Liverpool but the wider north. Investments like this will unlock real economic potential.
“If we can control the virus while keeping the economy going then yes, government investment will keep us going in the next few months but there is absolutely a role for mega-projects like this. The economic value of this development is significant in the construction phase but the economic value it will generate all through the year, not just when football is being played, is the reason why it is so important.”
Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson, told the All Together Now podcast he did not believe the £500m, 52,000-capacity project would be delayed by the pandemic. “The shovel in the ground isn’t going to happen for, at least, a couple of months, we may well be over a period where that’s likely to happen,” he said. “And of course, a lot of people working in construction have less than people who work indoors. It’s a difficult one to judge but I would probably say I can’t see it having any delay at all, Covid-19 or Brexit.”
While the stadium planning seems unlikely to be knocked off course, Everton have had to suspend their community programmes. However, they are still reaching out to the most vulnerable fans.
Season-ticket holders, based on age, disability and other information the club hold, have received phonecalls checking on their wellbeing and any specific requests such as shopping needs. There has also been closer contact maintained, via telephone and WhatsApp, with those people involved in Everton in the Community’s programmes dealing with acute social issues, mental health and youth engagement.