The club are taking independent advice to see whether they should stick or twist with the proposed stadium. It'll be interesting if they make the decision before the EGM takes place.
A CRUCIAL report from Everton FC’s lawyers will decide whether the club should press ahead with its £400m dream move to Kirkby, the Daily Post has learned.
It came as Tesco, which will build a huge superstore as part of the project, called on the Government to fix a date for a public inquiry at the earliest possible time.
The legal advice being drawn up for the club will be put to an emergency club board meeting expected next week.
Everton has sought advice on the chances of success at the public inquiry – called on Wednesday – and therefore whether it should continue or walk away from the move to Knowsley.
It is understood that if the club presses ahead with the Kirkby stadium plan, now expected to be delayed by 12 to 18 months, an exclusivity agreement with Tesco will preclude Everton from drawing up alternative Plan B proposals.
After Everton’s board meets, representatives from Tesco, Knowsley Council, and the club will then gather to decide a way forward.
Last night, a club source said a new stadium was needed as a matter of urgency and, whatever the decision taken, staying at Goodison in its current form was not viable in the long term.
If Kirkby falls through, Everton will have to re-examine re-development of Goodison Park or moving elsewhere.
A source at the Department for Communities and Local Government, which is over-seeing the process, said officials recognised the importance and urgency of a swift decision.
Knowsley Council will be written to again within the next few days to let the authority know the name of the planning inspector that will handle the case.
Everton FC, Tesco, and Knowsley Council will then have to prepare a statement of “common ground” for the inquiry.
Public inquiries into schemes of this size usually hear a number of weeks of evidence. The recent inquiry into the plans to build more than 1,300 homes on Liver-pool’s former Garden Festival site took three weeks with an additional week extension.
It usually takes a number of months for an inquiry to be convened to give the parties time to prepare their cases and also to coordinate the diaries of the inspector and the leading barristers that will argue the case.
It is anticipated that the legal costs in the case for Everton could be between £1.5m and £2m.
The public inquiry is likely to delay the scheme by around a year, and the cost of steel for the scheme could increase by £15m to £20m, while around £15m could be lost in revenue.
Last night, a spokesman for Tesco said: “We are obviously very disappointed with the decision to call-in the proposals for Kirkby.
“This project would regenerate the town centre, create over 2,000 new jobs in the region, and deliver world- class facilities for Everton.
“In times of growing economic uncertainty, the case for this regeneration project has never been so clear, and it is viable only because it is a single, comprehensive development combining the stadium, retail and leisure.
“We are pressing the Government to fix a date for a public inquiry at the earliest possible time.