Retail giant Tesco will continue to support Everton FC in its bid to build a new stadium in Kirkby despite the Government's decision to hold a public inquiry into the proposals.
A statement from Tesco said: "We are obviously very disappointed with the decision to call-in the proposals for Kirkby. This project would regenerate the town centre, create over 2,000 new jobs in the region and deliver world class facilities for Everton. In times of growing economic uncertainty, the case for this regeneration project has never been so clear and it is viable only because it is a single comprehensive development combining the stadium, retail and leisure.
"We are pressing the government to fix a date for a public inquiry at the earliest possible time."
The controversial £400m scheme includes a superstore for Tesco, a 50,000-seat stadium and more than 500,000 sq ft of shops, along with hotels and restaurants.
Knowsley council granted planning permission in June. However, rival councils including Liverpool objected, saying it was too large and too close to other retail hubs.
Cash-strapped Everton will need all of Tesco's backing, fuelled by lifelong Everton chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, to make sure the project remains alive.