Liverpool have confirmed they are leaving their Melwood training complex in West Derby, with the club's US owners, Fenway Sports Group, ploughing £50m into a revamped facility in Kirby.
Despite its place in Liverpool's history, the training ground is "unable to accommodate our longer term ambitions", says the club. It is expected to be sold off for up to 160 new homes, with the money put towards the new project.
The move "will end the club's 60 year association with Melwood, but comes after prolonged discussions to amalgamate all levels of the football staff", reports the Daily Telegraph.
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Melwood has become something of a thorn in the club's side after the junior ranks moved to Kirby in the 1990s. "Not only has the design of Melwood often been described as soulless – lacking any distinctive character to associate it with Liverpool – but the isolation from the rest of the playing and coaching staff had a detrimental impact," says the Telegraph.
Liverpool's plan has not come out of the blue. "Jurgen Klopp has spoken in the past about his desire to bring Melwood and Kirkby together," says the Liverpool Echo. "Back in October it emerged that Liverpool were assessing options away from Melwood after the owners vowed to make the manager's vision a reality.
"After months of discussions Liverpool have reached an agreement with Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council over the scope of work and funding. It's a significant milestone."
Plans for the new site involve developing a further 14 acres of land behind the existing site to expand it to around 60 acres.
The existing academy building will be overhauled and new facilities will include a covered artificial pitch, a pool and hydrotherapy complex, gymnasium and specialist sports rehabilitation suites, says the Echo.
There will also be upgrades to the public pitches at Simonswood Playing Fields and new dog-walking and cycling paths, lighting and improved security with a CCTV system.
"Plans for the development will be drawn up by the architects KSS, who designed Anfield’s new main stand and worked on the Olympic Stadium in London and Wimbledon’s No 1 Court. A planning application will now be submitted and, if it is approved, work will start in early 2018 with a completion date planned for the summer of 2019," says The Times.
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