By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Everton can learn from the mistakes of rivals in building a new stadium to help bridge the gap to the leading Premier League teams, their finance chief said on Wednesday.
The Merseyside outfit last year formally agreed a 200-year land lease at the proposed Bramley Moore Dock site.
Everton have played at their distinctive Goodison Park ground since 1892, but with a capacity of only 40,000 the club struggles to compete with the match-day income of rivals.
Yet some top-flight teams have experienced difficulty moving to new homes. West Ham United have endured crowd trouble and disruption since their switch to the London Stadium in 2016.
Tottenham Hotspur were due to start playing at their new White Hart Lane stadium in September but safety issues have delayed their arrival with no date set for them to move in.
Sasha Ryazantsev, who joined Everton in March 2016 shortly after British-Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri’s initial investment, said the club would learn from their rivals.
“There’s been quite a few stadium moves and some of them arguably made some mistakes and I hope we can learn from those mistakes,” he told the Leaders Sports Business Summit at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.
“Sometimes it’s good to be a trailblazer but when you’re not first, you can learn from others’ mistakes. It is a very long-term project and it will take several years before we move.”
The Russian added that it was not an easy decision to leave Goodison Park, which is one km away from rivals Liverpool, but that ultimately it would have benefits on and off the pitch.
“We see it as an opportunity to close the gap on the top six and the stadium itself will create a huge amount of new life.
“It will breathe new life into the team, create new jobs in the area and be worth one billion pounds ($1.32 billion) of economic value to the city.
Majority shareholder Moshiri last month increased his ownership stake in the club from 49.9 percent to 68.6.
($1 = 0.7577 pounds)
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Ken Ferris)