Everton's major shareholder and de facto owner, Farhad Moshiri has spoken of his confidence that the club are making significant progress on what he sees as a long road to getting the Blues back to their place among the elite of the English game.
Speaking in a rare video interview at Finch Farm, the Iranian-born billionaire shared his thoughts on the recent setbacks to his vision for Everton created by the team's unexpectedly poor start to the season and his determination to deliver a new stadium at Bramley-Moore Dock, the new cost projection for which is now £500m.
The interview was released on evertonfc.com against the backdrop of the Annual General Meeting of Shareholders at the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall this evening where CEO Robert Elstone reaffirmed the Board's desire to complete construction of a new stadium by 2022-23.
“We had a very difficult start to the season. I don't deny it; it was a shock for me,” Moshiri admitted.
“After the very good season we had last year and the heavy expenditure, expectations were high. The fixture list was bad, we didn't have a proper pre-season, we had the [early start in the Europa League] but still the team didn't appear to have a shape.
“So we had to take action. Now the team is performing much better.”
'We have to have a [new] stadium and we will'
Moshiri talked about having a plan that will take a number of years to fully execute and one which began with investment in the playing staff and the infrastructure that supports it.
He cited the new deal with USM at Finch Farm, the sleeve sponsorship agreement with Rovio for Angry Birds, and suggested that more arrangements along those lines were in the pipeline.
“We have invested quite heavily in infrastructure. What you see is the visible part — buying — but there is an awful lot going on behind the scenes to make success sustainable.
“The commercial side is developing really well. There are a lot of other sponsorships which are coming in.
“On the stadium we have [also] made great progress. We have to have a [new] stadium and we will have a stadium. When the building work starts, that will be the proof of the pudding so we want to get to that stage.
“But until we get to that, we are in the preparation stage but we are progressing well. We have secured the land which is the most essential [part], we've picked the [site] that we think the fans would prefer.
“It's an iconic thing, something that Everton needs,” Moshiri continued, perhaps hinting at a desire to unveil a ground superior to Anfield, “to have a better stadium — and that's what we have to do.”
'We need to fight'
“I think the first part of the exercise is to make the team competitive so that the owner, the Board, the fans and the employees can be proud of the team,” he said. “We need to fight; we are not here just to make up the numbers. We need to fight in every game.
“Our home record must be strong and the stadium must be a fortress. [In that respect] the design helps us.
“We have a multi-year plan. There will be bumps on the road [but] the plan is intact and we will resolutely go through that plan to achieve it and there will be investment everywhere.
“An enormous amount of work is needed just to retain the status quo; to move above that will require extraordinary effort — whether it's effort from me, the Board, our recruitment [team] and also from the fans to work with us, understand where we are.
“I've put my had in my pocket, you know. I am the end of the chain. After that the whole process needs to ensure that the investment is used in the right way. We have taken all the steps to make sure we are efficient.
“We've made mistakes — everybody does — but no single step will derail us. We are on a road and we'll get there."