SOUTHEND United say it hopes its new stadium will be built and complete in 2014.
The Echo can reveal the 14,700 seat stadium at Fossetts Farm can be ready in under two years, according to the club.
However devoted fans remain sceptical after years of broken promises.
SUFC together with Sainsbury’s issued a statement which is the most clear indication of a timescale than has been announced for a couple of years.
Originally the plan was for the stadium to be ready for the 2010 season and then more definitive plans suggested a finish date for the 2013/14 season.
Set backs, financial difficulties and problems securing properties at Roots Hall for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket to enable the stadium building works have all contributed to the delays.
SUFC and Sainsbury’s said in a joint statement: “Work on the new store is continuing behind the scenes to secure the necessary technical approvals from Southend Council. At the same time we are progressing the contracts and programming of the project.
“We hope we have all necessary approvals in the very near future which would enable us to complete the stadium in 2014.”
Fans are pleased by the news but describe themselves as cautiously optimistic.
As recently as last summer (2011) the Blues said work could start in October 2011 and then again this January.
Ken Jarvis, from fan site Shrimperzone, said: “It’s positive news but unfortunately we have been here before - we’ve been given various dates in the past and work hasn’t happened.
“Speaking to fans we’d prefer to see a spade go in the ground then we’d really have reason to celebrate.”
He added fans are all behind the new stadium but feel let down previously and are keen to see action.
Ken said: ”It’s been such a long time coming. We feel before now why bother saying things will happen if it’s not going to happen, so this time we are cautiously optimistic.”
The stadium will eventually have 22,000 seats.