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The implications of a potential relegation on Everton's new Bramley-Moore Dock stadium

The implications of a potential relegation on Everton's new Bramley-Moore Dock stadium

Everton is set to depart Goodison Park following the 2023/24 season for a new purpose-built 52,000 seater on the waterfront at Bramley Moore Dock. The construction of the stadium is estimated to cost around £760 million once it is completed, which has been mostly covered by Everton owner, Farhad Moshiri, in the form of a loan to the club. The stadium is set to be one of the most impressive in the country, and ideally, the football on the pitch should match that quality, however, Everton is in somewhat of a crisis currently.

Relegation is a possibility

Everton narrowly avoided relegation last season after Frank Lampard guided a relatively weak squad to safety. The club sold star player Richarlison in the summer to Tottenham Hotspur and looked arguably weaker going into this season, and the results have certainly backed that up. The Merseyside outfit looks in serious trouble as they have an unfortunate combination of ageing players and inexperienced players.

They have found frequently found themselves in and around the relegation places throughout this season and that is unlikely to change as there is more uncertainty to come. There have been rumours of Frank Lampard potentially being sacked if results do not improve. In regard to playing personnel, transfers are unlikely with the club at risk of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations if they spend a significant amount of revenue in the transfer window.

Relegation is a genuine possibility, and no club is too big to face the drop-down to the English Championship. Everton is a massive club globally and is certainly one of the major clubs that helped to increase the Premier League's global reach from its inauguration in the 1990s. In the United States, for example, football and the English top flight, in particular, are incredibly popular and remain on a steady incline.

The culture of watching football games alongside placing bets on them has also spread across the Atlantic as a result of the popularity of the sport in the states. Many sportsbooks now offer markets on the Premier League across many states following the legislation changes in the recent past that have made online sports betting now legal in numerous states. As a result sports betting has become incredibly popular in the US and the industry itself is worth over £70 billion. There are over 40 sportsbooks operating across many different states. Oddschecker has compiled Premier League odds, as well as other sports and competitions, to compare US sportsbooks. FanDuel, for example, offers the Toffees at 7/1 to finish rock bottom, which would not be great in terms of marketing for a team soon to turn a fresh page at their brand-new stadium. The club of course have strong ties to the US due to past stars like Tim Howard and a sizeable fanbase across the Atlantic will be watching how Everton's fortunes play out this season.

The implications of relegation on the new stadium

If Everton were to be relegated that would of course lead to huge financial consequences in itself. The club's sponsorships and branding opportunities would fall in value greatly. This is a major worry as they would have to gradually pay back the loans their owner afforded them to build the stadium on a championship revenue. Everton is on the lookout for a naming rights sponsorship for Bramley-Moore Dock after they cut ties with Alisher Usmanov and his company USM who initially agreed to be the rights holder.

However, a relegation would surely now reduce the fee that Everton could receive for the naming rights to their new stadium. Even at present while they are still a Premier League club, brands will likely be reluctant to commit to a partnership due to the uncertainty surrounding the club. It is unclear whether a brand or company will be receiving the naming rights to a Premier League or Championship club's stadium.

The concept of the new stadium was designed with the intention to expand Everton's global fanbase firmly in mind. In theory, it seemed like it would be an inevitable success - a state-of-the-art football stadium built on one of the most iconic waterfronts in the world. On paper, you would expect millions to visit Everton's new stadium within a couple of seasons, but in reality, would people travel across the world to watch a championship fixture whether it is played in a brand new modern stadium, or not? Aside from the brief vision of Everton's current squad playing in the league below, the pick of the bunch being poached by top-flight clubs would only reduce the appeal to attend Everton's games more so.

Could the stadium help the club to return to the Premier League?

Despite a poor squad potentially playing championship football within a season or two, what if Everton's new stadium still is a success? After all many "fallen giants" maintain worldwide popularity as fans honour their past successes. If Everton were to be in the Championship for the first season at Bramley Moore in 2024/25, perhaps they would still sell out the stadium due to their loyal fanbase in addition to tourists still wishing to experience what is claimed to be one of the best stadiums in the country.

Rather than Everton having a stadium they struggle to fill yet is expensive to maintain, the new larger stadium could perhaps form a large part of their revenue if they were to fall to the second tier. It could certainly go either way: if Everton were to, unfortunately, be relegated then the new stadium could either be another problem to add to a growing list or it could be the catalyst for their rebirth as a club.

In terms of their global following at present, Everton has accumulated over 10 million fans across various social media networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Considering Everton hasn't won a major honour for almost 30 years, it is unlikely that their fanbase would completely disintegrate due to relegation. In regard to local fans, attending matches in the championship would likely become less costly for them, but if Everton is to fill Bramley Moore Dock then fans across the country and the wider world are a priority.

The reality is that many football tourists will not travel thousands of miles to watch a team play that is not experiencing the greatest period in its history. The most loyal fans may do whatever it takes to attend, but there is no doubt that Everton losing their Premier League status would draw many global fans away from the club.

Overall Everton's new stadium could either provide them with a lifeline in the worst-case scenario of relegation or it could be yet another financial blow that could contribute to further decline. Either way, their current stadium Goodison Park is certainly outdated and a move or expansion has certainly been needed for a long time. Many fans argued that remaining at their current stadium, but redeveloping and modernising the football ground was a much safer decision financially and would also have allowed the club to maintain their long-standing tradition of playing their football in the Walton area of Liverpool.

Time will tell whether Everton and Moshiri have made the correct decision in building a brand-new stadium from scratch. For a team that has an endless list of issues on the pitch, it was certainly a massive risk. Everton Football Club has met a crossroads in what will likely be a significant part of their history; nobody knows which manager will lead the Toffees out at their new stadium, or what the quality of the playing squad and the division they play in will be. It is an uncertain time for the club, but perhaps Bramley-Moore Dock could provide the fresh start they so desperately need.

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