Dec 24 2013 by Nick Hilton, Main WIR
TRANMERE have withdrawn a planning application to build up to 50 homes on land behind the Bebington Kop Stand at Prenton Park.
The proposals were submitted to Wirral Council in September and would have required the demolition of existing buildings, including a leisure centre and social club, and a two-thirds reduction in the size of the car park on the nine acre site at Prenton Park.
The withdrawal of the application comes as controlling shareholder Peter Johnson continues negotiations with a number of parties interested in buying control of the League One club.
Tranmere’s plans for the construction of 90 homes on the nearby Ingleborough Road training ground are stalled by delays.
The housing proposal is linked to the redevelopment of the Council owned Woodchurch Leisure Centre as the club’s new training complex, with facilities to be shared with the local community. Although planning permission has been approved in principle, hurdles from opponents of the Ingleborough development, have to be cleared, including review of the case by European Commission.
Meanwhile the Tranmere Rovers Trust have issued a ‘final call’ to parties hoping to buy the club to declare their interest, warning that the current silence is causing fans to fear their motives.
The Trust have been in negotiations for more than two years with controlling shareholder Peter Johnson about plans to take the club into community ownership.
Earlier this year, Johnson disclosed he was talking to a number of potential buyers for the League One club he has owned since 1987 and signed non-disclosure agreements with all parties about the details of the negotiations.
However, the Trust maintain the non-disclosure agreements do not prohibit bidders from declaring who they are and giving some indication of their plans for the club.
The Trust insist they would be happy to step aside for a prospective owner willing to invest in the club and look after Rovers’ best interests.
However, having twice encouraged any interested parties to contact them or declare their interest publicly since the end of October, no approach has been received, the Trust say.
Trust chairman Ben Harrison said: “The silence, despite our repeated calls, inevitably makes us nervous. Tranmere is land rich and, following Peter Johnson’s generosity in agreeing to write off his historical debt, would clearly be an attractive proposition to anyone looking to profit from those assets.
“For one final time, we are calling on other interested parties to allay our fears and urge supporters who have not yet backed us to note their continued silence.
“Everyone sitting on the fence, given the lack of knowledge about any other bidders, is gambling on their intentions.
“We are the only bidder people can say with certainty has the club’s best interests at heart.”
Businesses and individuals linked to the Tranmere sale by rumour include Tom and Joe Morris, owners of the Home Bargains chain of retail stores, and currently Tranmere’s main sponsor, Dr Marwan Koukash, a Jordanian-born businessman and racehorse owner who controls Salford Reds rugby league club, Chicago-based sports management company Club 9 Sports, who were involved in unsuccessful takeover talks with Tranmere in 2011 and property development companies.