Tranmere Rovers have had controversial plans to expand where the club can sell alcohol approved – despite complaints from neighbours.

The decision was confirmed yesterday (Thursday, August 22) at a meeting of Wirral Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee and means drinks can now be taken into the directors’ car park until kick-off time.

Initially, Rovers wanted the area licensed until 11pm on matchdays, but suggested this concession in order to gain the committee’s support for the plans.

Ben Harrison, the club’s Associate Director, said: “We had requested to go till 11pm, but we’ve committed to reign that in significantly in respect of what residents say about late night noise.

“We are willing to work with them to do what’s necessary. It’s important to make income, but also to look after our fans.

“Tranmere does not receive huge TV revenue, so we have to try to balance the books (in other ways).”

The club’s representatives were quizzed on how they would cope with the extra numbers this change would bring to the fan zone marquee and directors’ car park.

Mr Harrison confirmed that the number of SIA (Security Industry Association) qualified stewards manning the area would rise from three to five and extra stewards employed by the club would be on standby should any problems occur.

Residents who made representations to the committee argued that granting the license variation would exacerbate the noise and anti-social behaviour issues around the club’s Prenton Park ground.

One resident accused Tranmere Rovers of “slowly and unsubtly taking over the whole area.”

Cllr Les Rowlands asked Mr Harrison how the club would deal with residents’ noise concerns.

Mr Harrison said that any music played would only be of a “background” volume and that by closing the area at kick-off time any noise disruption would be very limited.

When challenged on whether outdoor music playing until 7:45pm before midweek games is acceptable for parents trying to get their children to sleep, Mr Harrison noted that the club had received few complaints about anti-social behaviour on matchdays and said he wanted to work closely with the local community to ensure this remained the case.

Summing up the committee’s decision in favour of the proposal, Cllr Rowlands said he appreciated the club’s commitment to close the director’s car park area at kick-off time.

As the proposal still has to be approved by the Safety Advisory Group, it is unlikely that any changes will take place until the new year, but Mr Harrison was pleased with the committee’s decision.

He said: “We want to bring a festival atmosphere to games. Just because there’s alcohol involved people think fans will cause trouble, but most football fans aren’t like that.

“We want to extend the space to create a better atmosphere. Tranmere survives on its income from supporters and we’re on a high at the moment (after consecutive promotions). We want to make coming to Tranmere an enjoyable experience, regardless of the result.”