London: English football club Everton said on Monday it had abandoned plans to build a new $439 million stadium at a park close to its home at Goodison Park.
The announcement comes just days after the club sacked head coach Roberto Martinez after a dismal showing in the English Premier League (EPL) this season, reports Xinhua. Everton finished 11th.
The club in a joint statement with city hall officials said it had concluded that building a new stadium on Walton Hall Park was a step too far in the current economic climate.
The proposed development would have seen an all-new stadium as a replacement for one of the oldest football grounds in the EPL. It would have included hundreds of new homes, shops and retail space in a new village within the park.
Local residents had waged a massive campaign against the proposed loss of a park created in the 1930s.
Everton FC says it is now working with city council officials and examining two as yet unidentified sites elsewhere within Liverpool.
Everton CEO Robert Elstone said: “Whilst our work evaluating the alternatives is at an early stage, we are hopeful that the new sites provide us with a much more straightforward, deliverable opportunity to build a new stadium.”
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson, a staunch Everton supporter, said: “Most people will be aware that I did give a commitment to Everton to support a potential scheme at Walton Hall Park with the aim of regenerating the area and creating new jobs.
“However we have concluded that effectively building a new village in north Liverpool with lots of retail space is a step too far in this current economic climate. I can now say that the park will remain a park.”
Close neighbours Liverpool FC spent many years developing plans to replace Anfield with a new stadium on another large area of parkland, Stanley Park, also generating strong opposition.
That too was abandoned, with Liverpool’ s American owners deciding instead to extend and upgrade Anfield stadium.