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Public enquiry begins into Everton's proposed new stadium

Everton insist they will not be able to compete in the Premier League without a new home, and on Wednesday the expected six-week inquiry will start at the Kirkby Suite in Kirkby town centre. Everton, along with Tesco, their partners in the construction of a new stadium planned in Kirkby, will have to convince a Government inspector - who will report directly to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Hazel Blears - to dismiss opposition to the £400m scheme.

Toffee's acting chief executive Robert Elstone insisted the club were optimistic about the upcoming inquiry.

He said: "We are still hoping for a favourable decision sometime in the spring, perhaps by early March.

"We are aiming for a two-year building programme which would mean a start date in early summer (next year). We hope a positive decision will allow us to take occupancy and start playing football there in August 2011."

Elstone added in an interview with the Liverpool Daily Post: "The Premier League is moving at a phenomenal pace and that is because of clubs which have billionaire benefactors or modern stadiums which they are able to fill.

"Everton has neither. We are struggling to keep pace with our rivals and with the economics of this league.

"The issue of alternatives is that this club has been looking for an alternative or to develop Goodison Park for probably a dozen years.

"These options have not come to fruition because they are not feasible, deliverable and most of all they are not affordable."

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