Everton hit as sale of training ground is blocked

LIVERPOOL: Cash-strapped Ever­ton have suffered a financial blow after losing a battle with planning authorities over an application for the club’s former training ground to be redeveloped for housing.

The setback will cost the club an estimated £10mil, money which Everton had planned to use towards their £78mil contribution for a proposed new stadium which is also the subject of a planning controversy.

Everton’s board last year committed the club to moving out of the city of Liverpool to nearby Kirkby, where a new stadium is planned as part of a new retail park centred on a massive Tesco supermarket.

The development is opposed by neighbouring local authorities and an inquiry that will decide whether it can go ahead is due to reach a conclusion next month.

Everton insisted they will still be able to raise the money needed for the new stadium but the loss of £10mil is significant for a club with rising debts that is actively seeking a new financial backer.

The redevelopment of the training ground for housing was initially blocked by Liverpool City Council last year. That decision was upheld on appeal on Wednesday by a government planning inspector.

Everton’s plans to move outside of Liverpool are controversial but the club’s directors feel they have no option because the subsidies involved in the Kirkby development makes it a far cheaper option than building a new stadium in the city.

Local rivals Liverpool have been forced to shelve their plans for a £400mil new stadium near to Anfield because of the credit crunch.

Both clubs have ruled out sharing a new stadium on the model of AC Milan and Internazionale at the San Siro, although that idea may return to the agenda if the Kirkby development is blocked. — AFP

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