SPECIAL protection to keep Ewood Park as a football ground has been extended.

The Blackburn Rovers’ stadium has been listed as an Asset of Community Value for a further five years.

This means the historic ground will be safeguarded against a surprise sale or change of use for redevelopment in the future.

Rovers Trust have seen their application for an extension accepted by Blackburn with Darwen Council, having first secured it in 2013.

It gives the trust or other community interest group six months to submit a bid to buy Ewood Park if the club ever decided to sell its home since 1890.

The extension has been welcomed by Blackburn with Darwen councillors and Rovers’ fans Cllr Maureen Bateson and Phil Riley.

On November last year, the Trust had a bid for a similar listing for the club’s training facilities at Brockhall was rejected by Ribble Valley Council after Rovers objected to the application.

The club and owners Venky’s London Ltd did not object to the extension of the listing for Ewood Park.,

Michael Doherty, the Trust’s Legal and Policy Officer, said: “We are delighted that Blackburn with Darwen Council continues to recognise the fundamental importance of our football club, and its home at Ewood, to our community.

Rovers Trust chairman John Murray said: “This decision shows how Rovers supporters, regardless of results on the pitch, can continue to help protect the present and future of the club we all love.

“We urge all supporters who share our aims to join the Rovers Trust.”

Ewood councillor and Rovers fan Cllr Maureen Bateson said: “I am pleased. The ground is an important part of the community in Ewood, Blackburn and Darwen.”

Borough council regeneration boss and fellow-Rovers fan Cllr Phil Riley said: “I am pleased. With the club back on an upward trajectory, I think fans are less worried about the future of the club than five years ago.”

A Blackburn Rovers spokesman said:"We were happy for the process to proceed, as the club understands the merits of the listing to the local community.”