By George Overhill

20th May, 2023 | 1:10pm

The ownership of the new dock-side stadium at the centre of the search for new Everton investment may end up going into the hands of developers Laing O’Rourke, according to a report in The Athletic.

The construction of the Toffees’ new home is reported to actually be ahead of schedule, but amid reported agreements on the cards with both 777 Partners and MSP Sports Capital Farhad Moshiri is looking to secure millions in new capital to ensure the project’s costs are covered, and there is speculation that a missed payment could be behind the commitment to high-level talks.

Everton blogger The Esk told The Athletic: “It is obvious that the next instalment of the Laing O’Rourke bill is either due or perhaps even overdue. And that instalment is a significant sum of money. This is what has forced Moshiri back to the negotiating table.”

And in his lengthy report for The Athletic Matt Slater writes of what comes next amid the various plans: “It is entirely possible that nothing happens. And by nothing we mean [Sean] Dyche and the boys stave off relegation over the next eight days, Moshiri keeps sending the cheques, the stadium gets finished, and Everton move into it.

“After all, as the famous industrialist J Paul Getty once said, “If you owe the bank $100, that’s your problem; if you owe the bank $100million, that’s the bank’s problem.”

“In other words, Laing O’Rourke is not going to down tools. It may end up having to take ownership of the stadium, but that is a rabbit hole for another day.”

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The new stadium is potentially the jewell in the crown of the Moshiri era at Everton, as long as the club moves in on time and preferably in the Premier League.

There aren’t a huge amount of competing features for that accolade in the years since the Toffees’ majority shareholder came in, but amid the slip down the table and the increasingly hostile relationship between board and fans the 52,888-capacity arena could be his primary achievement at the club long after he eventually moves on.

It goes without saying that it would be a major blow if Everton didn’t actually own it, so whatever happens on the investment front it is imperative that such a fate is avoided.

Clearly, it is speculation on The Esk’s part that a payment may have been missed, and as long as construction continues on its current pace that sort of problem would likely be kept under wraps.

The prospect of Laing O’Rourke taking ownership of the stadium is, it seems, a risk that is some months away if it were to come about, but it is an uneasy situation to even be mooted.

Moshiri has plowed a huge amount of cash into Everton so his willingness to spend has been proven, for all that the returns on that investment have not been even remotely what fans would have hoped for.

But as the talks with the two American suitors continue there is evidently a push to get outside investment on board, and that would seemingly be set to come to some sort of fruition once relegation is avoided or confirmed in the next eight days.

Staying in the Premier League and getting the stadium both financed and finished is a rare matter that board and fanbase alike will all be hoping is on the cards, even if one side of that equation has somewhat more influence over it than the other.

But for the next week at least it is Sean Dyche and the players who have the greatest control over the immediate future of this club.