HOK Sport+Event+Venue's plans for its £150 million stadium for Everton Football Club are in jeopardy as a result of both the club and its backers failing to raise funding for the scheme.
The AJ has learned that the three main financial supporters of the 55,000-seater venue - planned for the King's Dock in Liverpool - are all unsure about whether they can honour their original promises. If plans for the stadium collapse then a £100 million mixed-use development on the same site will also fail.
Everton is committed to finding £30 million of the required resources. However, plans to sell off its current ground, Goodison Park, to a major supermarket have been spiked. Local council planners have told the club that they will not back retail development on the land. This has reduced the site's value by more than £10 million.
Meanwhile, Liverpool Vision, the city's regeneration agency, is also understood to be getting jittery about the project. It has told Everton that if it cannot find its share of the money, then it will abandon the project and a search will begin for another use for the site.
And, according to a senior insider at Everton, Liverpool City Council, the scheme's final major backer, 'has gone lukewarm about the whole development'. The insider said: 'There are a massive number of problems with the scheme at the moment. Everyone is twitchy and unsure of whether they either want to spend this amount of money or whether they can afford it.
'The time has come for our partners to show us the colour of their money, ' the insider added. 'This is a crucial six-week period. If we cannot get all the money together within that time, then this project will be in serious trouble. Personally, I think it looks highly unlikely that all the cash will arrive.'
A spokesman for Liverpool Vision confirmed that there are still high-level talks remaining to try and find the funding but that a deal is yet to be put before senior figures at either Everton or Liverpool Vision. 'There are still negotiations going on with Everton and its partners as to how the public-sector funding will be divided up, ' the spokesman said. 'Planning continues to go ahead but there has still been no clearance from any board for the deals.'
Officially, Everton is maintaining that the club still has every intention of logging a planning application for the projects within six months.