There may still be frustration at performances on the pitch and confusion over the way the club is run off it, but Everton fans do have one big reason to smile at the moment.
A couple of miles away from Goodison Park, on the banks of the River Mersey, work on the club’s new ground at Bramley-Moore Dock is continuing apace.
The £500million project will give the club the state-of-the-art stadium they have craved for decades, while regenerating an area of Liverpool with huge potential.
Everton are building a state-of-the-art new £500million stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock
The club have just two more full seasons playing at their historic home, Goodison Park
The plan is to move out of Goodison and into the new, 52,888-seater arena for the start of the 2024-25 season, giving contractors Laing O’Rourke just two-and-half years to deliver architect Dan Meis’ stunning design.
Construction work is on track, though, with huge changes to the site already visible as the club look to lay the foundations, quite literally, for their new home.
So, what’s the latest on the project? What are the next steps? And how will Everton’s stadium look when it’s finished? Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know.
The Toffees will be moving a couple of miles away from Goodison, next to the River Mersey
WHAT’S THE LATEST?
Earlier this month, the club reached a major milestone in the project when all the water in Bramley-Moore Dock was displaced with sand.
The process, which took three months to complete, saw 480,000 cubic metres of sea-dredged sand used to create a solid bed on which the new ground can be built.
An integral part of the enabling works, the infill of the dock saw a dredger called ‘The Shoalway’ make more than 130 round trips over 20 miles out into the Irish Sea to collect sand and bring it back to Liverpool.
Andy Baynton, principal engineer at Laing O’Rourke, said: ‘The Shoalway has been a 24/7 operation, with two crews operating 12-hour shifts.
‘It’s been a huge operation to get us to this stage and now the dock is filled, it will be taken back to the Netherlands for a service, ready for its next project.’
This is how the dock looked back in July, before Everton’s contractors began working on it
The water in the dock has now been fully displaced with sand dredged from the Irish Sea
With the water in the dock now gone, the second phase of ground works has already begun as Laing O’Rourke look to capitalise on a trouble-free first step.
The sand in the dock is now being compacted which will mean that the 16-20 metre-deep piles currently being drilled on the northern and southern wharves can be extended across the site. This is expected to be completed before staff break for Christmas.
Jonathon Rowe, ground engineering associate and job leader at consulting engineers, Buro Happold, recently explained the compaction process in detail.
He said: ‘To ensure that the settlement of the dock infill is controlled and measurable, rapid dynamic compaction will now compact the upper six metres of the infilled sand.
‘This is done by dropping a 16-tonne weight, at a frequency of 60 times per minute, with a land roller compactor completing this process.
Construction work is continuing at a rapid pace, with the ground set to be ready for 2024-25
‘Once this has been achieved, we then validate that the right densities have been achieved, with penetration tests from the very top of the newly compacted sand to the bottom of the basin.
‘As a result, the detailed construction and operation programme will be reviewed to establish how, when and what influence the infilling has had on the proposed construction process.
‘It also determines the return periods of relaying the pavements, the hard standing and the pitch surface, all of which are ground bearing.’
In total, 2,500 piles are being drilled at a rate of around 21 per day. They are being capped in concrete in order to provide solid foundations to support the stadium’s steel and concrete sub-structure.
The Grade II listed hydraulic tower, which is being kept and used as a centrepiece for the finished fan plaza, has been clad in scaffolding to ensure it is suitably stable to cope with the strong vibrations from the drilling.
480,000 cubic metres of sand has created a solid bed on which the new stadium can be built
Earlier this month, another major development was announced by the club, with the first element of above-ground building work taking place.
The very first section of the concrete ‘super-structure’ has been erected by Laing O’Rourke, with giant pre-cast concrete panels and pillars installed.
These are structural elements of the north west core, which will eventually feature entrance turnstiles to the north stand, as well as creating support for entry and exit stairs to the concourses.
Colin Chong, Everton’s director of stadium development, said: ‘We are ecstatic to see the first signs of the stadium appear above ground level before Christmas.
‘This is a symbol of the progress we have made to date and is very much a statement of intent for the future. Less than six months ago we were still infilling the dock and now that process is complete.
‘We have also been able to bring forward an important milestone of building above ground for the first time as the section of stadium’s north stand core structure is in place.
‘We are looking forward to 2022 where we’ll continue piling, putting in place the foundations for our new home, while also continuing to erect the stadium structure in the north and eventually the southern wharfs.’
The first part of above-ground building work is now complete, with concrete pillars and panels
WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN DONE?
In November, another major milestone in the ambitious project was hit.
The first foundations were poured on the northern elevation in the form of a concrete pile cap, which creates a base for the distribution of the building load.
Speaking at the time, David Jackson, project engineer at Laing O’Rourke, said: ‘It is a massive milestone to see the concrete going into the ground as we cap off some of our first piles.
‘This also represents the first time our structural and foundation work comes above the current ground level.
‘While the piling process continues across northern and southern sides of the dock, we have also been excavating and testing those piles.
A huge marine life rescue operation was undertaken so that the dock could be filled with sand
‘We’ve dropped in 30 tonnes of pre-fabricated reinforcement, put in casting items, bolt sets and drainage and today we’re pouring in the concrete to cap the piles and create a stable foundation.
‘Doing this will offer us a larger area for the distribution of the weight of the stadium on to the piles.’
At the same time, other developments included the re-siting of welfare offices and the removal of heritage assets – including cobbles, capstans, mooring posts and railway lines – to allow new offices and spaces for the growing number of staff set to join the workforce.
Prior to the dock being filled with sand, a huge marine life rescue operation was carried out to ensure that no wildlife was harmed.
The enabling works ensure the new stadium can be safely built on what was a water-filled dock
Contractors Laing O’Rourke cleared the dock basin of unwanted debris, repaired the walls and created a bung in the northern passage of water, effectively making a bath-tub before the infill process began.
All fish were removed from the dock by the start of October, and two floating pontoons were installed in the neighbouring Nelson Dock to provide a habitat for birds.
On top of that, the demolition of all non-listed buildings and warehouses was completed, with many of the materials being re-used across the site.
All of this was done within two months of the project commencement ceremony taking place at Bramley-Moore Dock on August 10, which marked the breaking of ground in the £500m project.
Everton officially broke ground on the project back in August and the building work is on track
First, a new temporary roadway – made up of reclaimed materials – will be laid on the solid sand base after workers are back from their Christmas break.
This will mean that the heavy machinery used for the piling process on the east and west elevations can be easily transported around the site
Once the foundations have been laid, it is likely that we’ll be able to see something resembling the bones of a stadium within the next 12 months or so.
Architect Dan Meis, who is back on the project in a new guardianship role after being let go when the technical architects took over in 2020, has created a truly eye-catching design.
The structure of the stadium combines the historic and the modern, with the brick base taking inspiration from Goodison’s famous Archibald Leitch lattice work.
Architect Dan Meis has created stunning design for Everton’s long overdue new stadium
The ground will feature brick, steel and glass to help it fit into its surrounding by the river
With steel and glass also incorporated heavily into new ground, there is also a focus on the building fitting in with the historic maritime and warehouse buildings nearby.
Entertainment has been a big factor in the final designs, with the plans detailing extensive public spaces for use on both matchdays and non-matchdays.
There will be a large fan plaza on the east side of the stadium, which will provide supporters with a space to eat and drink, particularly in the hours leading to kick-off.
The stadium will have four distinctive stands including a large steep home end to the south that will house 13,000 fans.
With supporters as close to the action as possible, the design will help amplify the noise within the stadium to mimic the ‘intensity and intimacy’ of Goodison Park.
The stadium has been designed to create a loud atmosphere and keep fans near the pitch
Everton’s new home will also help regenerate an area of Liverpool which has huge potential
It is likely that the north and south stands will have rail seating as Premier League clubs continue to push for safe-standing areas in the near future.
Everton claim their new stadium will bring a £1billion boost to the city region’s economy, while creating up to 15,000 jobs and attracting 1.4m visitors each year.
Writing in a blog post last month, architect Meis said: ‘While Goodison is a very special place, let’s not forget that Bramley-Moore Dock is a very special site in a very special city for a very special club.
‘Those things all coming together is the magic and it’s going to be unique; not just another stadium.’