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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Liverpool get approval for new stadium - to open in 2011

Liverpool have been given the go-ahead for their new 60,000-seater stadium by the planning committe of the local council.

The new stadium to be built in Stanley Park is scheduled to open in August 2011 and will feature an 18,500-seat single tier stand for the Kop, which holds Liverpool's most vocal supporters. The current Kop seats 13,500.

The design is the third version of the plan. The original plans were discarded when Tom Hicks and his now-estranged business partner George Gillett were unimpressed by the design they inherited when they bought the club last year, and the second, more ambitious, scheme had to be scaled down due to rising costs.

In January the American sports tycoons completed a £350m refinancing package on the loan used to purchase the club and £60m was earmarked for the stadium. But Hicks, whose feud with Gillett has plunged the club into turmoil, said last month that he was still working with investment bank Merrill Lynch on raising the finances.

In recent years Liverpool have been left behind financially as rivals Manchester United expanded Old Trafford to seat 76,000 and Arsenal moved from 38,000-seat Highbury into 60,000-seat Emirates Stadium in July 2006.

Builing work on the new stadium will not begin on the project before September 2008.

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