March 29 – Everton fans would be forgiven for getting that sinking feeling over their long-awaited move away from Goodison Park.
Last week the club won support to build a new £300 million stadium on the banks of the River Mersey as part of Peel Developments planned £5 billion Liverpool Waters scheme.
This week a piece of academic research forecasts that due to climate change and rising water levels by 2100 the site could be under water.
It won’t be lost on fans that the research came from Manchester Metro – Manchester and Liverpool are two cities that love to hate each other, especially when it comes to football.
Researcher Graeme Heyes wrote in an article for The Conversation: “As a researcher in sustainable business models, surely spending £300m on a waterfront stadium is a significant risk in terms of sea level rise?
“Recent research has shown that by the year 2100 sea levels could rise by two metres.
“That is only 83 years into the proposed stadium’s 200-year lease.”
Heyes isn’t the only academic to question planning around an expected rise in water levels. Researchers at John Moores University in Liverpool predicted that of temperatures were to rise by 1.5 degrees and water levels rose seven metres – the level of water last time temperatures were that high – then all of Liverpool’s Docklands and much of the city would be under water.
In reality there is still a long way to go in the stadium planning process with a planning application expected to be submitted later this year and approval expected in 2018.
Liverpool’s City Council has agreed to underwrite the plan (the city needs a new stadium to enable hosting of its Commonwealth Games ambitions) and the club is expected to present a report this week outlining the funding mechanism which would see the club create a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with the local authority to secure the funds. The lenders would buy a 200-year lease from Peel and lease the stadium to the SPV which would sub-lease to Everton.
Everton would pay the debt and interest off over 40 years and have an option to buy the head lease for the remaining 160 years from the funder.
By the time the water levels are projected to rise the money men could well have sailed off into the distance leaving Everton in need of a life raft.
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