SOCCER legend Kenny Dalglish has unveiled plans for a floodlit football academy in Liverpool.
The multi-million pound project would bring a full-size, international standard artificial grass pitch, six five-a-side courts and a clubhouse, including a gym, to Mather Avenue in Allerton.
Dalglish’s company Complete Football is behind the proposal, which would be modelled on a successful centre recently opened in Gosforth, near Newcastle.
The former Liverpool FC player-manager hopes to win community support for the scheme, which would replace university sports pitches, before submitting it to Liverpool council.
He met residents earlier this week to discuss the project, which would create more than 30 jobs.
The private development would be open 89 hours a week, with more than one-third available free or at reduced prices for schools and community groups.
The one-time Scottish international star said: “The reaction to the Gosforth centre from the community has been fantastic. They really appreciate the level of facilities it offers.
“It is really important for us to work with residents and it was interesting to hear what they had to say.
“This centre would be built to Sport England specifications because people do not want to get changed by the side of a pitch these days.
“I also believe if you provide decent facilities for children, you will get a bit of respect back from them.”
The scheme, which includes modern floodlights and a car park for 130 vehicles, is the second to affect Liverpool university’s Wyncote ground in two years.
In December 2005, Tesco was granted permission to expand its Mather Avenue store on to land occupied by artificial hockey pitches, despite a fierce battle by residents to stop it.
Dalglish said: “This site is already a sports ground – we just want to improve the facilities.
“We have no link with Tesco in any way, shape or form.
“If the university let us go ahead with this, it will completely open it up to the community.”
Complete Football, whose technical director is former Everton midfielder Paul Bracewell, says there is a shortage of top-quality football facilities in south Liverpool, and the university’s grass pitches can only be used four hours a week.
It says it would offer coaching from qualified training staff to teams using the academy, as well as junior development programmes.
Community leaders today said they were keen to find out more about how the centre would run.