Everton’s hopes of relocating to a new ground in Kirkby have been dashed after the government rejected a planned £400m stadium and retail development.
Communities secretary John Denham confirmed his decision on Thursday.
He raised concerns over the possible harmful effects on the “vitality and viability” of local communities.
Everton chief executive Robert Elstone said the news was “very disappointing”.
The verdict could hit Liverpool’s hopes of being part of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup finals, the decision on host cities to be made on 16 December.
The development would have seen Everton move from Goodison Park in Liverpool to the 50,000-seat stadium in Kirkby as part of a complex with a Tesco superstore and other shops.
But, following a public inquiry earlier this year, the minister has decided that the move would breach shopping policy which discourages major supermarket chains from taking business away from town and city centres.
Local MP George Howarth said: “I regret this decision in a time of significant economic challenge to Merseyside.”
News of the plan’s rejection was welcomed by Dave Kelly, the chairman of the supporters’ group Keep Everton in our City (KEIOC).
“[KEIOC] repeatedly questioned the cost of the stadium, the chosen location flew in the face of perceived wisdom, overall this project represented an unacceptable risk to Everton Football Club,” said Kelly.
“[The] decision should be looked on as a positive, we have been saved from the road to continued mediocrity.
“After a period of calm reflection we hope Everton have had the foresight to develop a contingency plan that all fans can embrace.”
Everton chief executive Elstone told BBC Radio 5 live that he would be speaking to both parties before deciding on future plans.
“In the short term we need to review the decision and the reason for the rejection,” said Elstone.
“We’ll do that with our commercial partners, with Tesco and Knowsley, and determine how we move forward.
“Before that we won’t know precisely what our next step will be… a determination to drag this club forward is part of our fabric.
“All the hard work over a long period of time has been motivated by one thing, to take the club forward.
“[We want to] put the club on a firmer financial footing and, ultimately, give [manager] David Moyes a fairer crack of the whip in the transfer market.
“We’ve punched well above our weight for a number of years… I don’t think a smaller stadium [plan] would work for Everton Football Club.”
Ian Morris, of the Kirkby Residents’ Action Group, who opposed the move, said of the rejection: “That is brilliant, it is fantastic news.
“The club have a major problem with no new stadium and will have to look at redeveloping Goodison.
“But our campaign was never about football, it was about the town we live in.
“We believe the football stadium would have destroyed our town.
“Kirkby is only a small town and they were talking about a 55,000-seater stadium built right in the town with a huge retail development which we thought was inappropriate.
“It would have had a major negative effect on the retailers working in the existing town centre.
“The stadium would have disrupted everybody’s lives every time there was a football match.”