A fire which ripped through the former home of ex-Premier League footballer Jermaine Pennant is being treated as arson by police.
Firefighters battled flames at the house in Hale Road, Speke, Cheshire, at around 9.5pm on Monday, 10 October.
A portable pump collected water from a nearby swimming pool, while an aerial appliance was used to douse the roof and extinguish the “well-developed” fire.
The property has stood empty since 2020, when the ex-footballer, 39, split from his then-partner model Alice Goodwin, 32.
It had been converted into a cannabis farm and was subject to a drugs warrant earlier this year which led to the arrest of a 35-year-old man.
Officers received further intelligence of a cannabis farm at the same property in September, although no plants were found during their search.
The scale of the latest cannabis farm was revealed on social media by an urban explorer who filmed himself walking around the five-bedroom property.
Officers are now investigating the blaze at the house near Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport and believe it was intentional.
Detective Constable Gray said: “We are aware that this address has attracted a lot of attention recently following the discovery of a cannabis farm in the property in September. A man was subsequently arrested in relation to the discovery, and he has since been passed to another force.
“We are currently in the early stages of this investigation, and at this time, we believe that this fire has been started deliberately. Officers believe that the property was unoccupied at the time of the blaze, and no injuries have been reported to us.
“As part of our investigation, we are keen to hear from anyone who was in the Hale Road area between 6.30pm and 10pm and believes that they may have witnessed anything suspicious. The same goes for anyone with any video footage which may be relevant to the investigation.”
The mansion was purchased by the former Arsenal and Leeds United star for just over £1million in 2006 when he joined Liverpool.
A source told the DailyMail: “Jermaine bought the house back years ago when he played for Liverpool, and he lived there for about three years before he moved onto Spain where he spent a bit of time before moving back to Britain.
“Towards the end of his career, he played all over England and then ended up in India and Singapore before retiring about five years ago, but in all that time, he never went back to the house.
“It was rented out for years, and then around 2020, the tenants moved out, and it’s been empty ever since – some dealers moved in about a year ago, and it was common knowledge it was used as a cannabis farm.”
The 39-year-old will soon be put through his paces after he recently signed up for the next series of Channel 4’s Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins.
He previously appeared on 2018 Celebrity Big Brother and the dating show Celebs Go Dating in 2019.