Knowsley Council is expected to approve plans for a new indoor pitch at Everton Football Club’s USM Finch Farm.
Everton FC wants to erect a 104,980 sq ft facility on space allocated as green belt land to the north of its existing academy building in Halewood.
The structure would house a full size covered pitch, additional changing rooms, climate control system, medical and rehabilitation space, internal viewing area and football equipment storage.
The site of the proposed facility is currently used as a floodlit artificial grass pitch, which would be relocated to the north east of the new pitch as part of the plans.
A report to Knowsley Council’s planning committee is recommending the application for approval – despite describing the indoor pitch as an “inappropriate development in the green belt”.
EFC has submitted a set of ‘very special circumstances’ which the council believes demonstrate how the benefits of the development “outweigh any impact on the openness of the green belt”.
A club statement included in the report reads: “Everton FC is one of England’s leading football clubs with a commendable success record.
“The club has maintained its status by investing and developing its young football talent to become elite players, capable of playing at the top of the Premier League and European competitions.
“The existing academy facilities at Finch Farm do provide for most requirements but there is a need for new/replacement facilities as the academy continues to develop.
“There is need to comply with Category 1 Premier League rules for certain new facilities (including the indoor pitch).
“The current situation with Finch Farm academy is that the increasing requirements around academy students has resulted in the existing facilities being overused.”
EFC’s proposal for both a new indoor pitch and relocation of its existing artificial grass pitch will go before Knowsley Council’s planning committee next Thursday (6 December).