Everton’s chief financial officer Sasha Ryazantsev believes the club’s move from Goodison Park to a new stadium on the banks of the Mersey will help them “close the gap to the top six”.
After years of looking for a new home, the Premier League club settled on a site at Bramley-Moore Dock in early 2017.
Fans greeted the news warmly but progress has been slow, with several questions about the stadium’s design, funding and planning permission still unresolved.
That may be about to change, though, as the club appointed a stadium development director in August, two months after Ryazantsev became Everton’s first chief finance and commercial officer.
Speaking at the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London, Ryazantsev said: “We love (Goodison Park) and would love to stay there but we have to move with the times.
“Most of the top six are upgrading their grounds or have a plan to do so and elsewhere in the league we can other clubs that have future-proofed their grounds. We see it as an opportunity to close the gap to the top six.
“The new stadium will also breathe life into the city, creating 600 jobs and generating £1billion for the local economy. We are citizens of Liverpool and want to do what is right for the city and the club.”
Ryazantsev has been a board member at Everton since 2016, when the Russian investment banker joined after working on Farhad Moshiri’s purchase of a 49.9 per cent stake in the club.
Last year, Moshiri increased that stake to 68.6 per cent, a move that should make it easier for Everton to borrow the £500million that the new stadium is estimated to cost.
A large chunk of that could come from a low-cost loan from Liverpool City Council but Everton will still need to find at least £220million elsewhere if their vision of a state-of-the-art stadium in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site is to be realised.
Ryazantsev said “it will take some time” but it will happen. And he is convinced it will help Everton catch up with Arsenal, Chelsea, the two Manchester clubs, Tottenham and local rivals Liverpool.
“We will have more capacity, so we can sell more tickets, sell more food and beverages, get better partnerships and earn more broadcasting revenue,” he said.
“There is value in having a fantastic stadium, you get better players and they will stay longer, so you can translate that stadium onto the pitch.
“There have been quite a few stadium moves recently and some of them have made mistakes. Hopefully we can learn from those.”
The seventh most successful English club in terms of silverware, Everton have spent a record 114 seasons in the top flight. But they have not won a trophy since 1995 and finished eighth in the league last season.