Everton Football Club received vital backing from Tesco, the supermarket chain, yesterday to keep alive its fading hopes of building a 50,000-seat stadium outside Liverpool.

The move was dealt a blow on Wednesday when the government announced a planning inquiry into the £400m scheme, which includes shops, hotels and restaurants.

Everton fears the delay could doom the scheme, given the economic downturn. Tesco said: '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.'

Financial Times