Everton have set themselves the ambitious target of winning the Premier League at their proposed new stadium.
It is anticipated the planning application for the Toffees’ proposed £500m Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium will be submitted later in 2019.
Toffees chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale said it would be the catalyst for a return to the highest levels of the game.
“It means challenging for domestic titles and trophies,” she said.
“Not only to win cups but to win Premier League titles too.”
Everton last won the league in 1987 while their last top-four finish was in 2005. They are currently 11th in the Premier League.
In a wide-ranging speech at the club’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Barrett-Baxendale admitted it was “an extremely challenging goal” but said it was achievable over time under owner Farhad Moshiri.
She said: “The barriers to entry are daunting but we must all be focused and driven to meet the challenge.”
Moshiri said: “A new stadium is a necessity. We don’t have a choice. We don’t have a plan B or C.
“It is extremely expensive. It will cost us £100m more than other sites but it is like Mastermind. We have started so we will finish.
“I have spent £250m to turn a museum into a competitive outfit, we will complete the stadium. We will raise £350m through the city, the naming rights will be some more. There is an equity gap of £100m. This club is sufficiently robust to see this project through.
“If we want a big club we need a modern stadium.”
Everton’s ‘long-term, holistic strategy’ to be masterminded by Brands
Barrett-Baxendale was appointed chief executive on 15 May this year. Twenty-four hours later she sacked manager Sam Allardyce and director of football Steve Walsh.
In what has been described as a challenging six months since, she has appointed Marco Silva and Marcel Brands as their replacements and undertaken a major review of Everton’s entire operation.
As a consequence, she has enhanced Brands’ role, putting him in charge of Everton’s ‘whole football strategy’, which has also seen the Dutchman appointed to the club’s board.
She said: “Marcel is now accountable for delivering the long-term, holistic football strategy and principles from the academy through to the first team.”
Silva also received backing despite Everton winning just one out of their last eight Premier League games: “We are pleased with how he has integrated, with a clear focus on first-team coaching and development.”
‘Confident’ of securing stadium finance
Moshiri bought a 49.9% stake in Everton on 27 February 2016. Since then he is estimated to have spent £250m on the club, mostly on players.
The investment has seen Everton record successive top-eight finishes after a couple of seasons in the bottom half of the table.
However, it is the Bramley-Moore Dock project in Vauxhall – around two miles from the club’s existing home at Goodison Park – that Barrett-Baxendale believes holds the key to Everton’s return to the elite of the English game.
Despite scepticism in some quarters, she said Everton were “as confident as we can be of securing the finance we need”.
She added that the scheme itself would act as a catalyst to regenerate the entire north Liverpool area.
“It will create 15,000 jobs, attract 1.5million additional tourists and help accelerate the £5.5bn development of the Liverpool Waters scheme,” she said.
Deputy chairman Keith Harris said: “We have the unknowns presented by Brexit, we have inflation, we have the effect of the exchange rate in this country as most of the materials will be imported. But [the proposed stadium] is on a terrific site and those challenges will be met and beaten.
“I cannot promise an end date because we haven’t yet broken ground. We are on track with our work to apply for planning and hope to put a spade in the ground early next year and it would be wonderful if we could complete this in two years. We should certainly be in a position to complete it in three years.
“We expect there will be an instruction for safe standing. It could increase capacity by 10,000.”